Nashville is a cowriting town.
It seems that everyone that moves or spends time here gets sucked into it eventually. But maybe you’re unsure if it’s something you want to try. Maybe you’ve always written alone and you’re worried about the unknown. Maybe you think another writer might pull your song in the wrong direction. Maybe you don’t see the value in it.
If that’s the case, consider these advantages of cowriting:
1. More relationships.
The writing room can be a very lonely place. Some of your cowriters will become close friends, and that’s awesome. For me, one of my favorite parts of songwriting is getting to hang out for hours with people I admire and enjoy. Each of your cowriters also has his or her own network. That means they can help you mean more publishers, artists, other cowriters, etc.
2. More pitch / promotional power.
If you write a song alone, it’s up to you- and only you– to get it into the right hands (a publisher, a producer, an artist, etc.). However, if you add a cowriter or two, now you have more people to play the song out live at songwriter nights or pitch it to publishers or artists. It multiplies the chance that your song will be heard by the right people.
3. More ideas.
When you write alone, you have to come up with every single melodic and lyric idea yourself. If YOU don’t think of it, it doesn’t end up in your song. However, when you cowrite, you and your cowriter help each other overcome those creative roadblocks. “Two heads are better than one.”
4. Less creative ruts.
When you only write alone, it’s harder to stay out of creative ruts and it’s harder to pull yourself out of them. Maybe you find yourself going back to the same tempos, moods, chord progressions or stories time after time after time. However, it’s hard to stay in a rut if you’re writing with a bluegrass female on Monday and a pop-country guy on Wednesday.
5. Less excuses, more productivity.
It’s pretty easy to break writing appointments with yourself. Nobody’s going to call wondering where you are, and you’ll probably get bonus points with your spouse if you did the laundry or mowed the yard instead. But if you know someone expects you to be online or in the writing room at a certain time to write, you’re a lot less likely to bail. Likewise, it’s pretty easy to walk away from your guitar or notebook when you hit a creative roadblock in a song. But it’s a lot harder to just walk into the other room and turn on the TV when you have a cowriter sitting across from you. That would be just plain awkward.
6. Faster learning curve.
Cowriting allows you to learn from your fellow songwriters. You get a front row seat to observe how they think, how they overcome obstacles, etc. You may pick up a cool alternate tuning or a way of constructing a lyric that you would’ve only discovered on your own years later. Plus, a good cowriter will challenge you to dig deeper and write better songs. I know that’s definitely been true for me.
This is not to say that cowriting is always the best thing in every circumstance. But it sure has helped a lot of writers (like me) get more successful more quickly. What about you? What other advantages of cowriting would you add to this list? Leave a comment below- I’d love to hear from you!
Oh, and here’s one more advantage…
7. Complimentary strengths.
Few songwriters are equally strong at both lyrics and melody. Even fewer are equally strong AND GREAT at both. So, if you’re like most of us, your songs can benefit from finding a cowriter who is strong where you aren’t. And this doesn’t mean just “strong at lyric” or “strong at melody” or “strong at producing.” It could even be more specific things like “great at idea development,” “brings in killer hooks” or “writes awesome images.”
You want to find cowriters who have valuable strengths. And YOU become a more valuable, in-demand songwriter as you develop strengths in different areas. One area which has helped me attract and grow some valuable cowriting relationships has been my ability to write with strong imagery.
Writing with great imagery has helped my songwriting career and helped get my songs cut.
Imagery in songs like “Monday Morning Church” (a top-5 hit for Alan Jackson), “Last Night Last” (recorded by Lady Antebellum), “Crickets” (the title-track to Joe Nichols’ current album), and “When Your Lips Are So Close” (Canadian #1 hit and Single Of The Year for Gord Bamford) helped them get recorded and released. I’m living proof that it’s a valuable skill.
And since strong imagery is such an important part of professional-level songwriting, I’ve put together a course on imagery. It’s called, “Use Imagery To Supercharge Your Songwriting (Like The Pros Do)” and it’s available now.
By the end of the course, you’ll have the basic skills to:
- Effectively use both literal and figurative imagery.
- Make your story come to life using imagery.
- Prove your character’s personality using imagery.
- Make your listener connect to your character’s emotions using imagery.
- Hook your listener in the song’s first few lines using imagery.
- And to begin more songs (more easily) using imagery exercises as the start of your songwriting process.
Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.