6 Benefits of Collaboration in Songwriting
by Pam Sheyne
If you glance at the songwriter credits on any music charts these days, you’ll notice that most hit songs are written by more than one writer. In fact, the 1 or 2 people it used to take to write a song, is on the wane, it now takes a village. Six out of seven of the past seven years top winners were multi-way collaborations.
Collaboration has become the new workplace in many creative industries and it’s the combination of talent, skill-set, chemistry and how connected you are, that all add up to the recipe of success.
I myself, have been a collaborator for over 25 years and what I wanted to share with those of you who have never ventured out to write with others, is that the benefits of collaboration far outweigh the negatives. It might take a while to find “your people” and the right partners, but just like a marriage, when you find the one or few you have chemistry with, it will be much more fun than writing songs on your own.
So, what are some of the benefits of collaboration? Here are 6 for starters:
Working with people who compliment your skillset, lightens the load and increases productivity. Few people are masters at everything, so know what you are good at and master that to the best of your ability. Find collaborators that mirror your skills and bring something else to the table. If you’re not a whizz at Pro-tools you may want to leave that to someone who is experienced and faster at it. In the long run, it will save you many hours in the studio and mean you can concentrate on writing more songs.
Working with people who are more experienced than you, helps you fine tune your skills and elevates you and your craft. You can’t get to the top of the ladder without climbing all of the steps and putting the work in, (well, for most people that is the case). Make the effort to go out to songwriter gigs, and open mic’s in your area. Search for songwriting camps, music events and extend your network beyond your city or country. You will meet successful songwriters and business professionals at these events who might be able and willing to help connect you with the right people. Becoming a part of a music community is key to meeting and finding new collaborators, offer your help and get involved.
Extend your network and you will find “your people” and the ones you have the best chemistry with. When I first started out, I wrote with anyone would write with me. I eventually traveled to other countries to write with other songwriters and built a network of co-writers and friends around the world that I love working with. Songwriting is such a unique and social craft and you will find it’s much more fun working with your friends and people you enjoy hanging with. Side note: you will learn something from every co-writer you work with, even if it’s not to go back and write with them again!
Enhances your professional and personal development. Us creative types can be sensitive people but if you challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone, you will grow into a better writer and develop your “people skills”. Collaboration means you will have to learn to be a politician and your ability to debate, will help you figure out which ideas to fight for and which ones to let go of. Ultimately you are all working for the same goal at the end of the day, aiming high to write the best possible song.
More people marketing the song and finding a home for it can only enhance your strike rate. Ideally, you want to work with people who are connected, the ones who are published, managed and have close connections with artists and record companies. Getting your song out to the right people is key so once you finish your song, you need someone to find a home for it. The more collaborators who are connected, the better the chance of finding opportunities for your songs. It isn’t over when the song is written, now the fun begins. Your songs are like your children, you want to give them the best chance in life so take care in deciding which home they go to.
Different minds bring different perspectives and a mix of styles. The best part about collaborating is mixing perspectives, styles and cultures. You might never have tried such an idea on your own or written from this perspective. I love it when a co-writer challenges me to see something from another angle. Some collaborations are not easy, in fact sometimes it can be a difficult birth, but in the end when the song is done and you and your new friends are punching the air with excitement, the buzz is knowing the journey was worth every minute.
Pam Sheyne is a multi-platinum selling songwriter, vocal producer, singer and mentor. Her song writing career has achieved success on a global scale and includes international hit records and song placements in numerous films and TV shows around the world. With 50+ million record sales, 100+ platinum sales, she is also a prestigious Ivor Novello Award winning songwriter and a 7 times BMI Radio Play Award recipient. Pam, and her business partner Richard Harris, started SongWriterCamps, (www.songwritercamps) and offer camps, workshops and one to one mentoring sessions for aspiring songwriters and artists.
Pam is also a founding member and executive committee member of SONA (Songwriters of North America) a grass roots advocacy group based in LA that actively fights for songwriter rights in the digital age. In 2018 SONA was instrumental in helping the Music Modernisation Act pass as a law.
To enter the 24th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: https://www.songwriting.net