Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Song Co-Writing by Jerry W. Henry

In all genres of music a majority of the hits are collaborations. In the Country genre, in fact, ALL of the top songs are collaborations! If you look at the current issue of Billboard magazine and check out the radio play list charts closely, you will quickly notice that the vast majority of the songs you see charted there were co-written by two, three or more writers.

There are the obvious benefits to co-writing for songwriters. The most obvious is being able to bounce ideas off of each other. This process allows you to say dumb things to each other until the profound ones come out. Collaborating brings you new ideas and cannot only bring in other ideas; it can also inspire you to new ideas that you would not otherwise have found on your own. A co-writer benefits from another point of view or another’s way of saying the same thing differently than ourselves.

Co-writing can help you write more songs and stronger songs if both writers are focused on the same goals. Writing with more experienced songwriters teaches you quickly the do's and don'ts that exist in the world of pro songwriting. Collaborating builds a songwriters catalog faster. You share the frustration and celebrate the victories with a co-writer.

One of the major benefits, but less obvious, is the shared connections to get the song heard, pitched, recorded and released. The royalties are divided, but the marketing efforts are multiplied. This really comes into play if you are fortunate enough to write with already established successful songwriters who have publishing deals or just lots more connections in the business than you do. Also the cost of demoing your song can be half what it would be if you wrote it alone.

Creative energy is a powerful force and sometimes it is magnified when two or more writers are batting ideas around and reacting to each other. You will grow together and find opportunities are multiplied by your co-writing relationship as you share your resources. Never hesitate to discuss writer share percentages with a co-writer. But remember, anything too formal too early can kill the fun and desire to continue working together. Find someone that is trustworthy because you trust him/her with your ideas and those are worth money.

Chances are you’re stronger in one area (lyrics or music) than another; a collaborator can add strength where you’re weak. When you write with other songwriters you can open up incredible paths for your music that you would never explore alone. To be a good co-writer, you must be willing to be completely open. You then can explore any subject without inhibitions. That is the only way you can write honestly with another person.

Published in October 2013 issue of The Leaf

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