Co-writing: songwriter collaboration tips

How to find and effectively collaborate with other songwriters

[This article was written by guest contributor Anthony Ceseri.]

Co-writing can be a great way to improve your own songwriting skills, come up with new musical ideas, and delve into areas you’ve never thought of before. Plus, learning to play well with others is also a skill that will be beneficial to you in almost any aspect of life.

In this article, we’ll look at three tips you can use if you want to co-write with other songwriters.

1. Find people with complementary skills

An important thing to do before you set out to find a co-writer is to determine what your strengths AND weaknesses are. And you will have both. Once you do that, you can figure out what you need from a co-writer.

For example, maybe you’re a great singer but you don’t write melodies well. If that’s the case, you’ll want to find someone who’s really good at melody writing.  Figure out everything related to songwriting, recording and performance you can think of and decide what you and your prospective co-writing partners are good and not-so-good at. Some ideas to get you started may include lyric writing, melody writing, singing, guitar playing, production, arrangement and mixing.

When you start to find people who fill in your “weak gaps,” while you fill in theirs, you’ll really be able to come up with some solid songs.

2. Build relationships

You’re not going to find someone who you think you might like to write with, walk up to them and say “You’re awesome! Let’s write together!”

Think of it like dating. You wouldn’t just walk up to a woman and say “You’re beautiful! Let’s get married!” You want to develop a relationship first. You also want to think about what’s going to be in it for THEM? It’s not all about you.

So how do you find people to build these relationships with? One thing you can do is to go to social media. For example, go to accounts where other writers would be, like BMI or Taxi and see who’s following those accounts. Online songwriting forums would work well for this too. You can even meet other songwriters in the “real world” out at open mics or local gigs (yours or someone else’s).

Again, you’re not just going up to these people and saying “Hey, let’s work together!” but instead develop relationships with them so you’ll have a pool of potential writers to draw from at a later time.

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3. Be open-minded

When you finally develop relationships and start working with other people and they throw out ideas, don’t shoot them down right away. At first, you and your co-writers shouldn’t be afraid to put EVERY idea on the table and then LATER those ideas can be edited or tossed. But up front you want all of your ideas floating around as possibilities. Don’t be judgmental about the ideas coming out. Just consider all possibilities and edit them later.

Conversely, don’t push too hard for an idea you think is amazing if no one else likes. Again, you want to be open-minded and work with each other. It’s not only about one of you, it’s about the group (or the two of you). Check your ego at the door.

It’s also usually best to share the credit for a song equally. Getting into figuring out the exact percentages could cause friction and you want to keep your songwriting group a well-oiled machine. If you do end up in a writing session where you’re doing 99% of the work, you may just want to not write with the person who only contributed 1% anymore. I find with songwriting that doesn’t seem to happen too often because once ideas start flying back and forth, it lends itself to songs being divided up pretty evenly anyway.

Last note

If you look for people with complementary skills, build relationships and keep an open mind, you should have a pretty successful time co-writing with other songwriters. Co-writing is a great way to learn new things and grow as a songwriter. You’ll probably find some awesome ideas being generated when a few creative minds come together, so have a lot fun with it!

For a lot more songwriting information, grab your FREE EBook here:

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[Piano picture from Shutterstock.]