If you’ve been looking to take the next step in your songwriting career, then you should probably consider writing songs with others! One of the greatest benefits of co-writing is that you no longer have to feel stuck on certain elements of a song and force yourself to get the song finished. With co-writing, you can play off your co-writer’s strengths and cover each other’s weaknesses. Plus, with powerful video chat tools like Zoom available, you can schedule co-writes from across the country, or even across the globe, so it’s easier than ever to “get in the room” with like-minded musicians!
Before you go rushing off to find your new virtual co-writers, though, here are some tips to help your writing sessions go smoothly!
Choose your platform(s)
Facetime, Google Hangouts, and Skype are all options, but the most stable and co-writing friendly is Zoom. If you do use Zoom, make sure you use the record feature so you can look back on your session as needed and keep a record of what was accomplished and all the ideas you had!
Use Audio Movers
This plugin live streams the output of your DAW (digital-audio workstation) so your co-writer can hear what you record in real time! There is virtually no latency, and it works with all the major DAWs!
Keep the mic and camera you have
For Zoom co-writes, your computer’s built-in mic and camera will do the job. You may want to use earbuds if you experience feedback, though, and your actual music recording equipment should include a higher-quality microphone.
Meet in person when possible
You aren’t able to pick up on a person’s personality and social cues as easily online as you would in person, and you will be more comfortable sharing your song ideas with someone you have met in real life, so try to meet your co-writers in reality at least once before going virtual. You can find co-writers at concerts, gigs, colleges, songwriter associations, conferences, and other music events.
Starting with something other than a real-world interaction isn’t bad. You can still dive into Facebook groups, networking platforms, forums, and even craigslist ads to find co-writers, but meeting in person is always ideal.
Listen more than you speak
Be choosy with your words in a session. You must filter what you say and try not to dominate the room if you have lots of ideas. Co-writing is all about humbly giving and taking.
Keep an open mind and be willing to try something outside of your genre or comfort zone. You will likely learn, grow, and add to your own writer’s toolbox from the experience!
Keeping an open, collaborative mind does not mean agreeing on every idea your co-writer suggests. They want to hear your ideas, too! Keep exchanging ideas until you can both agree you have found one that is excellent.
Share lyrics on Google Docs
Since Google Docs is free, this tool is ready-to-use for your next session! By sharing a document, you can collaborate on writing and editing in real-time with co-writers, plus you will have an updated copy automatically saved in your docs every time someone makes an edit, so you don’t have to worry about losing your work.
Come in with an idea
Whether a track, a bit of a melody, or a hook, make sure your idea isn’t too fleshed out or your co-writer may feel like there is no room for them to contribute. Bring in something as a launching point for creativity, not to show off your cool new song!
Wrap it up right
Record your publishing info on the lyric sheet, (your full name and your PRO association), choose a master session keeper who will send copies of the mp3 to everyone, and make the splits clear. Even splits of the profits are simple and tend to keep everyone happy.
Be ready for a second meet-up
With how easy it is to meet on Zoom, you may feel less pressure to finish the song in one sitting, and you will likely need a break from long hours in front of the computer screen. Take note when your co-writers seem tired and offer to set up a second meeting. Go ahead and schedule the next meeting then and there so you don’t leave the song unfinished!
Find your people
You want to develop the ability to recognize when you lack creative chemistry with another writer. Nothing is wrong with not asking for another session. As a matter of fact, there is no way you could expect everyone you write with to be the perfect creative match for you. That’s like expecting to become best friends with everyone you meet! Finding good, long-term songwriting partnerships will take patience and experimenting.
You may also find you have a better time with more than one co-writer in the room; lots of hit songs today are written by three or more people.
As a songwriter, you could not ask to live in a more convenient age than now! Take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the technology around you. You will need the extra edge in this business where the connection is key!