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Collaboration in the arts is a strange animal; ultimately, it may require you to compromise somewhat on your own musical ideals, and that’s probably something that’s not going to sit well with you. But collaboration may not necessarily mean caving in to someone else’s ideas in order to get a song completed. If approached in the right way, songwriting collaborations can provide tremendous benefits.
First, let’s take a look at the possible negative side of collaborating with others to write songs:
- Your song idea may go in a direction that differs from what you originally intended. You may bring a song fragment to the table, frustrated that you can’t finish it. It may be exciting that a songwriting partner, or the other members of your band, finish it quickly and come up with something quite good, but it may not be the song you thought it would be.
- It may eventually suffer from “too many cooks” syndrome. With several people contributing, a song can sound piecemeal to you once it’s done.
- Your songwriting partners may be unreceptive to your ideas, or inflexible with regard to compromising on their own ideas. And that’s something you may not discover until you’re well into the process.
All those three points really mean is that you should know with whom you are collaborating. Partnering with someone in an artistic venture requires you to do your homework, and make sure that your way of working together is compatible.
With that in mind, here are some of the important benefits:
- You can draw on strengths that aren’t necessarily your own. If you find someone you can work with, you can take advantage of the fact that their strength might be lyrics, while you can craft a beautiful melody.
- You can tap into a new audience base. If your songwriting partner already has a fan base, collaborating with that person means quickly building on your own base, and that’s always a good thing.
- Your own songwriting style will modify and improve. You’ll find that anytime you do anything creative with someone else, your own way of working will change, usually for the better.
With any collaboration, it’s important to get expectations of the relationship in writing. The kinds of things you will want to specify might include:
- Any split on royalties must be agreed to on a song-by-song basis before the song is shopped around or otherwise marketed to publishers or A&R personnel. (Copyright is always equally shared between songwriting partners no matter how much or little each individual has contributed).
- Specify clearly that this particular songwriting partnership still allows you to write your own songs outside of this partnership.
- Specify that you may choose seek out other songwriting partnerships in addition to this one.
In any case, a songwriting collaboration can and will be a positive experience if all partners are conciliatory in nature, and enjoy the thought of working well together. When it’s done well, I believe the positives usually outweigh the negatives.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.
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