Written by Gary Ewer, Senior Instructor, Dalhousie University, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website.
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It’s not common to find songwriters who excel in all facets of music creation. The best songs out there are usually the results of collaborations between artists who have strengths in different areas. You should consider a songwriting collaboration if you feel stuck in a writing rut.
And actually, even if you aren’t in a rut, you’ll love the feeling you get from bouncing ideas off of someone else. You can read all the stories of songs that McCartney wrote, where Lennon contributed one line of lyric… but that line was crucial to the success of the song. From McCartney’s “With a Little Help From My Friends”, Lennon contributed, “What do you see when you turn out the light?/ I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine.”
If you find lyrics hard to write, and you really want to get beyond “Oh yeah, baby, love ya,” it’s best to find a lyricist to collaborate with. It’s not likely you’ll turn into Leonard Cohen overnight, so find someone who knows how to turn a phrase to make people think.
Here are some bits of advice for finding someone to collaborate with in th esongwriting process:
1) Find someone trustworthy. It’s best if you can meet the person in person, but it’s not crucial. The danger is collaborating with someone who takes your melody or lyrics and creates their own song. Online collaboration is fine, but just be sure it’s someone you’ve been in communication with more than once.
2) Use collaboration as an opportunity to take your music in a somewhat different direction. Collaboration is all about expanding your abilities and modifying your sound, and if you find someone who simply does what you’re doing already, you’re missing out on an opportunity to expand into a new listenership.
3) Establish an agreement with your collaborator, and put it in writing. If you’re serious about songwriting, and see it as a potential career, it’s a good idea to talk out what you expect from your collaboration. Without an agreement, you may find your songwriting partner making agreements with agents or managers that don’t sit well with you. The kinds of things to put in agreement: percentage split of performance or mechanical rights (usually 50-50), agree to discuss before submitting songs to agents, agree not to collaborate with others unless both are in agreement.
One last bit of advice: When a song is the result of a collaborative effort, both (or more) get equal credit, and it’s also a good idea to put something to that effect in writing. When it comes to paying out royalites, you can often stipulate a more specific split, but that requires all parties to be in agreement.
Songwriting collaborations can be wonderful chances to get your music out there to an audience you hadn’t considered before, so go for it!
“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” shows you how to write great songs. It’s just one of a suite of 6 songwriting e-books written by Gary Ewer. (His newest e-book, “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting- Chord Progression Formulas” is being offered for free when you purchase any other of his songwriting e-books.) Let these six e-books show you every aspect of how to write great songs! Read more..