How to Set Yourself Up For A Successful Co-write

Many people are interested in co-writing but shy away it because they don’t want to fail at it.  Here are some easy ways to prepare for a co-write so you set yourself up for success.

I had heard for about the benefits of co-writing from many professional writers, but it took me a long time to take the leap into writing a song with someone else. Part of the reason was that I didn’t know many songwriters in my area, and the other reason is that I had no experience co-writing and didn’t want to fail at it. After diving in to many co-writes I realized that being prepared goes a long way, and taking the time to do a few things before the co-write will set you up for success and help you be the kind of writer other’s will want to have on their team.

Here are three ways to set yourself up for a successful co-write

  1. Choose the Right Partner(s)

Co-writing is relational, and you’ll find that dynamics that occur in social settings end up flowing into the co-writing session.  If someone dominates a conversation when you’re chatting with them, there’s a good chance they’re going to dominate a co-writing session. If someone is pleasant and easy to get along with in a conversation they’re probably going to be pleasant and easy to get along with in a co-write.  It’s good to “date” around by co-writing with lots of people, but after enough experience you’ll discover what kind of people you work well with and what kind you don’t. Choose co-writers that bring out the best in you and help create a great song.

2. Think About What Song The Room Could Write Well

It’s wise to think about the writers that will be in the room beforehand and consider what type of song would be best to write. If you have two co-writers who have created multiple monster pop hits, you would be wise to steer the room towards writing pop that day. If you know the writer is amazing at creating beautiful poetic lyrics that can tug at heart strings, you may want to steer the write to a folk ballad.  Think about your co-writers strengths in advance so you can steer the song to their strong suit.

3. Bring three great ideas (don’t come empty handed!)

You would be surprised the number of times people come to a co-write without a good idea, title, hook to contribute.  If you are writing up (writing with someone better than you) it is your job to bring the goods!  Bringing a great idea, title, a rough chorus or verse that has potential will make people want to write with you. Until you establish yourself as a writer be generous and go the extra mile by being the one with the best ideas in the room.

4. Be early and prepared

Whether it’s online or in person, get to the co-write a few minutes early. This will give you time to set up, go the the restroom, get your computer going and help ease any stress you may be feeling.  If you want to go the extra mile - create a google doc before hand with the writers names and the date in the title, and put your ideas within the document. Having this ready shows your writers that you’ve taken the time to prepare, value their time and it will give you a reputation as a writer who takes their work seriously.

After you’ve prepared, it’s time to write!  Have fun, stay engaged, be yourself and write a the best song you can together!


Are there any unique ways you prepare for a co-write? What is holding you back from starting to co-writing?

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES FOR CHRISTIAN SONGWRITERS

6 STEPS TO SONGWRITING SUCCESS

Innovative, practical, and inspiring, Six Steps to Songwriting Success presents a surefire step-by-step approach to mastering the elements consistently found in hit songs. Author Jason Blume, a songwriter with the rare distinction of having had songs on the Country, Pop, and R&B charts simultaneously, has packed this book with such key aids as the three-step lyric writing technique used by the pros; lyric, melody, and demo checklists; and tools for self-evaluation–plus many other exercises that work. Blume’s warm, humorous style features motivational anecdotes and entertaining stories of how hit songs came to be written and recorded.

GOD SONGS by PAUL BALOCHE

YOU’LL DISCOVER:
* How worship songs are born
* How to develop a song after inspiration comes
* 30 proven principles that make a song memorable
* 16 shared qualities of great worship songs
* 12 keys to unlock writer’s block

YOU’LL LEARN HOW TO:
* Gain the listener’s attention quickly
* Recognize tones, chords and rhythms that help
   us feel the message
* Find fresh ways of expressing worship
* Choose just the right words
* Make your song its best before releasing it
* Get your songs heard and used
* Minister most effectively with your music

EVERY HALLELUJAH by SUE SMITH

ART & CRAFT OF CHRISTIAN SONGWRITING

Born from eight years of teaching songwriting for the Academy of Gospel Music Arts, Robert Sterling's The Craft of Christian Songwriting deftly tackles the much-overlooked subject of craft in the Christian songwriter's creative process. The book challenges its readers to aspire to the highest level of excellence, providing chapter after chapter of practical insights into the Christian songwriting experience. All the way from "Getting Started" to "Building a Demo," The Craft of Christian Songwriting shows beginning writers how to make their next song their "best song ever," all from the unique perspective of the Christian songwriter. Practical and realistic, The Craft of Christian Songwriting is a smart read for anyone with aspirations of becoming a Christian songwriter. 

ANALYZE MY SONG

Analyze My Song.com is a website that exists to take you and your songwriting to a new level of excellence. Analyze My Song is made up of a group of songwriting professionals, who together have, multiple #1 songs, hundreds of songs recorded and multiple GMA Awards.This group of writers helps you become a better songwriter through song reviews.  

There are two types of reviews you can choose from:

The first is a brief analysis:  this will let you know whether your song is commercially viable/ready to go, whether it needs to be rewritten, or whether it’s not a good idea and you should chalk it up to a practice song and write your next one.  You’ll also get a few sentences of comments about the song. That one costs $8.

The second option is a thorough analysis that gives you a detailed breakdown of the song is 10 categories including Title, Lyrical & Musical Hooks, Concept, Verse/Chorus, Bridge breakdown, Marketability and more.  So in each section you’ll get a few sentences analyzing that area in detail. This review costs $45. 

A song review is a great way to grow as a songwriter, and is a must before creating a demo or recording of a song!

 

 

HOW TO GROW AS A SONGWRITER

Songwriting is an interesting activity.  It requires skill, yet skill alone won’t write you a song that connects with the hearts of people.  It requires heart, yet heart alone won’t give your song the platform it needs to go the distance.  So how do you grow as a songwriter?
 


1. Write a lot of songs

There is no getting around it.  In order to get better at anything you need to practice.  You’ve probably heard of the famous 10,000 hour rule which says in order to achieve mastery in a field you need to practice for 10,000 hours. Well, songwriting is no different.  You got to put in the time in order to see results.

2. Write with other people

Co-writing is the fastest way to grow as a songwriter.  It forces you to stick to a writing session, teaches you to work with other people’s ideas, gives you immediate feedback on your ideas, and will help you write 10x more songs than you would on your own.  Many people don’t co-write because they are intimidated.  It’s kind of like jumping off a diving board the first time, it may seem scary but once you do it a few times you’ll find out it’s not as bad as you thought and that you may actually enjoy it! 

3. Read books

Yes, just like any other field of study there are great books written on songwriting.  I highly recommend starting with my favourite two songwriting books - “6 Steps to Songwriting Success by Jason Blume” and “God Songs by Paul Baloche”. These books are written by great writers and great songwriting teachers. They are incredible informative, practical and easy to read. You’ll be a better songwriter for it.

4. Listen to music

There are so many incredible songs of different music styles available to listen to today.  Go onto apple music and listen to the A-List of different genres (Christian, pop, singer/songwriter e.t.c.)  Enjoy the songs, but also notice what techniques they are using to make a song catchy and marketable.  Knowing what is being recorded today is crucial for any songwriter that wants their songs to be recorded by others.

5. Play music

When I was a teenager I used to buy the sheet music to all my favourite songs to sing and play them on the piano.  I lost that joy somewhere after high school.  I’ve started to get back into that because as I play and sing songs I like and different songs the chord structures, melodies, rhythms and rhymes get into me.  I absorb what the writers are doing in the song. It helps when I go to write new music because I might think of a new progression of chords I don’t usually use or a rhythm I don’t naturally gravitate to.  We can all get stuck in a rut of what we typically write, and playing and singing can help us break out of that.

So if you want to grow as a songwriter, make this 5 things a priority in your schedule.  Keep practicing and watch your songs get better and better!
 

Question: What is holding you back from growing as a songwriter?