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So, You Want To Collaborate? The Key to Success For Songwriters
Collaboration is the most rewarding and productive activity that a songwriter can participate in. It is also one of the most challenging. Co-writing will expand you in ways you never imagined.
Take a look at the Billboard Singles chart and you will notice that most of the popular songs were written by two or more composers. Why? Because many songwriters have found that the whole collaboration is greater than the sum of the single parts. We are all human beings with strengths that we can take advantage of as well as weaknesses that we can supplement with the strengths of others.
Many artists find that writing alone from year to year is limited. The jack-of-all-trades method can be amazing, but solo writers often find themselves stuck in a rut.
If you feel like merging with other talents, you first need to look at yourself as a songwriter from a target perspective. Imagine your next co-writing appointment as a potluck – what are you going to bring to the party?
o Do you have a passion for enthusiasm, diligence and fun?
o Are you willing to sacrifice your time, energy, money and heart for a worthy cause of making great music?
o Do you have any special talent and energy to speak in your songs?
o Are you willing to give and listen to constructive feedback?
o Are you familiar with the basic rules and vocabulary of your chosen field?
And most importantly:
o Have you created a body of work that demonstrates your strengths as a writer?
Act like a magnet
How can you attract quality co-authors? First of all, we have to face it, most talented and successful writers do not want to pull you up with boots. However, many people will want to collaborate if it looks like they will get something worthwhile from the partnership. So your job is to create material that other writers think will contribute to their success.
And remember that most people want to work with a partner who achieves a comparable level of development. I could not expect Serena Williams to invite me to play tennis or Tiger Woods to challenge me to golf until I worked on my game a little longer. Why songwriting should be different?
Make it your goal to be a collaborative magnet. This means getting your contribution into the form possible before you walk in the door.
You will inevitably be judged by the actual goods you place on the table. And if you are honest, you will recognize that you are weighing your potential collaborators in the same way. This is as it should be. Take a look at the target eyes on the body of your work so far.
Do you have:
o Beautifully typed lyrics are put out in an identifiable song format?
o The best version of hook music and / or riffs?
o A list of possible names?
o Some potential “song starts?”
o Any completed songs that have been professionally presented?
These are the “calling cards” that you will present to other songwriters and artists. You want to compliment them so much that you can proudly show them their value without apologizing, criticizing or making excuses. For their lack. Isn’t that the standard of quality you want back?
You “pay off your debts” by brightening up your talents, your diamonds. Eventually, if you take your personal gifts seriously, the word will spread that you have something worthwhile to offer. This process is sometimes called “eating your way up the musical food chain.” It does not happen overnight. There is no “quick fix” as in any serious area of effort.
“YA GOTTA KISSA LOTTA FROGS”
Participation is the key. Take a risk … Basically, you have to put your heart and soul talent on the line! No one comes knocking on your door out of the blue asking you to write together. You have to work together and consistently to build a writing relationship from the beginning.
In fact, I have noticed that collaboration is like … dating!
Some collaborations are adventurous: good for some tunes, but not for long.
Some are nightmares: You want to run and scream in the opposite direction.
Some people are dissatisfied: You feel motivated but your partner does not get it.
o And luckily some have magic: you stay with them long, maybe forever.
Yes, it can be heartbreaking. But I guarantee you will feel full life! There is never a boring time in this quest because you and your co-authors aspire to the high calling of creating great art together.
You just have to keep rewriting it and putting it in there, believing that you will eventually attract like-minded souls. So where are these like-minded souls hiding?
A few days of research can give you many opportunities. Here are some of the ways in which the results have worked for me, and I have collaborated with at least a hundred other authors since 1983:
o Take a songwriting class.
o Find a teacher or mentor.
o Start a local songwriting support group.
o Hire or start a band, even if it is only for a limited number.
o Join an implementation organization (ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC in the United States)
o Check out programs offered by music business organizations such as The Songwriters Hall of Fame, The Recording Academy, Women In Music, Nashville Songwriters Association, etc.)
Join the online songwriting community with just Google! Myspace.com offers a whole new realm of possibilities.
o Check out local publications and listings for classified advertising shows and turn on the microphone.
o Search the internet for performers in your music network.
o Go to your local music store and check out their billboards or put up your own sign.
o Free advertising on Craigslist.com.
o Read or subscribe to music business publications.
You are limited only by your imagination and your level of commitment.
All in all, there is nothing like a free lunch, but a delicious meal if you are willing to unleash your own talents. What about mixed metaphors?
Finally, I suggest that people find out more about themselves without fear when they write songs. The listener can always tell when you are telling the truth and the truth.
o Write your facts and write more.
Dare to write ugly songs in the quest for the best.
o Create a support team that will keep you to a high standard.
Develop your strengths and add to your weaknesses as a writer, player, singer, and engineer.
o Read exercise books, register, buy books … know your field!
o Join the camp, build relationships with many potential partners.
Together, promote the songs in the world so that these songs become good ancient times again!
Copyright 2006 Alex Forbes
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