The Advantages of Cowriting

Man vs Row

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.

0 A Story Of Relationships

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.

Rise

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.”

Team Sport

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:

  1. Effectively use both literal and figurative imagery.
  2. Make your story come to life using imagery.
  3. Prove your character’s personality using imagery.
  4. Make your listener connect to your character’s emotions using imagery.
  5. Hook your listener in the song’s first few lines using imagery.
  6. And to begin more songs (more easily) using imagery exercises as the start of your songwriting process.

If you want to join a LIVE workshop or learn more about how to “Use Imagery To Supercharge Your Songwriting (Like The Pros Do)” CLICK HERE or on the image below.

God Bless,

Brent

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.

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13 thoughts on “The Advantages of Cowriting”

  1. Co-writing also means you write faster which means more songs in your catalogue.

    And it cuts the costs of your demos. If you have one co-writer you cut your demo price in half. With two co-writers you cut your demo price to a third.

    So more songs with lower cost demos and more people with skin in the game pitching your songs.

    You also get to be part of other people’s lives, development and their success.

  2. I like sharing the sense of accomplishment at the end. Cajuns celebrate everything, right. When you write solo, who are you gonna high five, a mirror..? Sharing in that sense of accomplishment is a really cool part of it for me.

  3. If I could find someone prepared to do all the stuff I hate doing, like networking, pitching, self-promoting etc etc, and leave me alone to write, I might consider it. Unfortunately, I get the feeling that most collaborators would want a share in the writing process, and that just isn’t acceptable. My co-writing experiences have been irritating, frustrating, and a waste of time, money and energy.

    1. Yeah, Pete, most collaborators definitely expect to… ya know… collaborate. Looks like you just want a mail-in publisher or song plugger. But I’d say the most successful pluggers and publishers these days seem to be writer-managers than just song pluggers. Meaning, they work to get the writer into the right rooms.

    1. I’d love to be “just a singer songwriter”. Sadly, I’m no performer, so I’ll have to be content with being just a songwriter. And the jury’s still out on whether I can do even that 😀

      1. What many people miss is that co-writing takes a different set of skills. You need to be what’s needed in the room at the time to get the best song you can written on the day.

        So if you’re having problems with co-writers the first place to look is at yourself and your own co-writing skills.

        That’s usually where the problem lies.

        Being from Australia I can also say that learning to co-write effectively is a huge skill that takes your songwriting to a whole different level.

        In Australia co-writing is not the norm and getting anyone to write with you is like pulling teeth.

        When I’m in the States or dealing with US songwriters I’m flooded with people who want to write with me.

        And there’s a huge difference in the standard of songwriting.

        If you compare the average song in the Australian country charts to the average song in the US country charts the difference is obvious.

        And the main difference is in the US everyone co-writes. In Australia only a few people do.

  4. I write alone because almost every person I know is not a writer or even a musician. I’ve tried to get friends to engage but they just look at me like I’m suggesting we write physics equations. My wife will help on a limited basis. She has to be in the mood (you know what I mean).
    I’ve been told I’m stronger on melody and weaker on lyrics. So co-writing makes sense to me.
    Nashville is a long way from Dallas .
    I guess I can see working long distance as an option for tech savvy folks. SongSpace comes to mind. It just seems like the synergy would be lost.
    I also think knowing who you are writing with on a personal basis at least to some degree is a must.
    I’m going to keep writing no matter.

    1. Neal I do most of my writing on Skype for the same reason…just not a lot of committed writers or even a songwriting subculture in the town I live in.

      I write with other songwriters and with artists now on Skype.

      If you join Songtown.com you’re likely to find other co-writers especially if you do one of their co-writing courses.

      Also Brent’s workshops are full of people who are great at writing lyrics (man of the people who do Brent’s workshops are Songtown members too).

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