Many artists and writers outside of Nashville tend to do solo writes (pop artists being an occasional exception). Nashville is a bit different in that writers often team up to collaborate. The process can be daunting and confusing. I’ve had friends and writers tell me about sessions that weren’t working. “Is this me? I must be a bad writer…” Most of the time, that’s not the case and simply a matter of personalities and styles not gelling. Here’s just a few ways to tell if it’s not working out.
When a band’s original songs are homogenous, that’s on the songwriter. There’s a good chance the band’s main writer always writes on an instrument, and his or her songs are limited by that. Falling into ruts as a player will keep your songwriting stuck in those same ruts. Fortunately, there are simple practices you can establish to keep your ideas fresh and avoid becoming That Band.
Two people sit down to write a song together and they can end up making magic, but if they’re not careful, it can destroy friendships. After all, creative endeavors are fraught with egos, emotions, and opinions. So maintaining that partnership takes a lot of work. Here are the best ways to keep a songwriting partnership healthy, fulfilling, and productive.
There’s sometimes a stigma associated to co-writing – as if there’s a purity to the “solitary creator” in music. We’d like to dispel the bad reputation of co-writing and say, categorically, these lone geniuses are a dime a dozen. All you have to do is look to some of your biggest musical idols like Bowie, who knew that good creation comes from good collaboration.
The internet is a boon to bands with members living miles apart – obviously, and nobody’s claiming otherwise. It’s never been easier to maintain open communication and get things done despite distance than it is right now. Still, shared Google docs and group Skype chats don’t guarantee your own long-distance band will be problem free. There’s more to it than that. Just ask Atlanta rock ‘n’ roll act Barreracudas.
If you’ve had a string of mediocre (or agonizing) co-writes, it can feel like you’ve hit a wall. Maybe you haven’t found that magical friend who gets you just yet. Somewhere, in the millions of songwriters in the world, your co-writing circle exists. Do not give up the search. Get to them quicker by keeping these things in mind.
In the last few years, collaborating online isn’t only easier than ever, but it can be also be incredibly ornate thanks to a variety of apps, websites, and online communities. Still, at the end of the day, no technology can replace the human element so essential to great art. So here are some ways to intersect the two.