you ready to begin your search for your musical "other
half"? This article will discuss the kinds of things
you should prepare before and during your search to help you
find an effective co-writing relationship.
the beginning, many songwriters are convinced that teaming
up with another writer is the "cure for all that ails
them" musically. While in many situations it can provide
the foundation for excellent songs, this path is fraught with
scores of problems that are unique and different than anything
your might encounter when writing alone.
first thing to do is assess whether or not you need a co-writer.
Obviously, "need" is a pretty subjective term in
this case. When assessing this need there are a few truths
you need to keep in mind.
Does Not Add, It Multiplies
co-writers have the faulty impression that because they "only
write lyrics" they need to find someone who "only
writes music" to complete the process. Their thinking
goes like this: ½ a songwriter and ½ a songwriter
equals 1 whole songwriter.
a songwriter and ½ a songwriter equals ¼ a songwriter.
You see, life does not add, it multiplies. I won't bore you
by refreshing your memory on how to multiply fractions, but,
suffice it to say, that this is truth. The best you can hope
for in any writer (be that you alone or any team of writers)
is one whole songwriter.
this when you are first trying to "save" your writing.
The absolute first thing you should be focused on is improving
your own skills to the point that you can create a complete
song on your own. Not only will this make you an infinitely
more valuable co-writer (should you decide to do that), it
will also free you from a myriad of other problems associated
with the pitfalls of inability and ignorance.
doesn't mean that you must stop writing lyrics in your basement
at night and join a musical convent or that you must go back
to school to get your masters degree in production and arrangement.
But it does mean that you should have strong opinions about
all the aspects of songwriting including Lyric Writing, Melody
Writing, Chord Progression, Production, and Arrangement etc.,
etc., etc. before you enter into a co-writing relationship.
popular, successful songwriters were never formally schooled.
But almost all of them have "educated themselves",
to the standard forms and "rules" even if only just
enough to know when to break from them. One of the biggest
favors you can do for yourself and any prospective co-writers
is to find out what you need to be educated on in order to
be a complete songwriter.
you have a handle on those aspects, you are ready to move
to the next phase.
to Your Strengths
order for two people to work most effectively together, they
must compliment each other; the best way to determine what
you "need" is by assessing what you already "have".
Again, ideally, you should be able to "do it all"
and not "need" a co-writer. But that doesn't mean
that you can't "prefer" to work with someone else.
Working alone can become very serious and wearying, where
as Co-writing can be very fun! Consider the aspects of songwriting
that you feel more passionately about; creative areas where
you are more comfortable.
a brief description of yourself as a songwriter. Describe
what you do best. How do you start writing a new song? If
you start your songwriting by creating a melody, that may
be your strong suit. However, if you are more comfortable
with words than music, then the opposite may be true. This
may change over the years and as you get more experience with
songwriting's different facets.
you know what you're strengths are, your ready to find someone
to compliment them. The first word in this search must be
RESPECT. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT write with someone you don't
respect. The same is true for your co-writer…if they don't
respect you and your ability, RUN AWAY! Find someone who values
you and your contribution. This is essential. In order to
be creative, you must be willing to be vulnerable. You don't
want (and may not be able) to be vulnerable with someone who
doesn't respect you.
a supportive, compatible co-writer is always important, but
even more so in the beginning. This will undoubtedly mean
that you will be writing with someone who is in roughly the
same stage as you. If you are a beginner, find another beginner.
If you're more advanced, look among your contemporaries. Be
cautious when writing with someone who is dramatically more
or less experienced than you. This kind of co-writing relationship
is seldom healthy.
are not hard to find, they're everywhere. But there's a trick
to finding the right one. Here's what I recommend: Get involved
in a situation made up of a group of writers/performers. It
could be a lyric writing class at the local junior college,
a song critique session, an open mike night…anywhere there
is a collection of writers that regularly appear.
attention to those around you. Find someone who has talent
you respect and that is close to where you are experience-wise.
Listen to their songs, read over their lyrics, spend some
time in their company talking about their musical influences
and goals. Consider whether or not you want to lock yourself
in a room with this person for 3-4 hours at a time.
goal should to develop a successful co-writing relationship.
These grow slowly, over time. Once you have found the right
person(s) you're ready! Asking someone to co-write can be
a bit like asking someone out on a blind date. The important
thing is to not pressurize the situation. Be determined to
have fun! If the creative spark doesn't happen (and it's very
common that it doesn't happen on the first writing session
together), be prepared to be OK with that. Keep in mind that
you are now a lot closer to your goal than ever before. You
now have all the tools you need to find as many co-writers
as you can handle.
Klar is a Songwriter and Managing Director of Must Have Music
(BMI), which has spent the last ten years, developing an extensive
catalog of top quality original songs ranging from Adult Contemporary,
Pop/R&B, Contemporary Christian, Pop-Rock and Country.
The current catalog includes more than one hundred songs that
have been placed with Independent Artists across the country.
For information about this and other music industry related
topics, go to http://www.musthavemusic.net