Set Your Cowriters Up For Success

Man vs. PRO

I regretted the words as soon as they spilled out of my blabbermouth.  “Yeah, I have this funny idea…”  I didn’t regret sharing the idea because my cowriters hated it.  No, I regretted sharing the idea because my cowriters LOVED it. 

You see, we were jawboning at the front end of a cowrite, chit chatting and talking music.  Well, my inner “Mr. Entertainer” got the best of me and (for a laugh) I shared this whacky song idea.  Well, it got the laugh, but it also got a “we GOTTA write that!”

Well… shoot.

I wasn’t pitching the idea.  I was just going for a laugh.  My cowriters that day were both talented songwriters with cuts to their credit.  So it wasn’t a matter of them being lousy songwriters.  They’re good at what they do, but their wheelhouse is at one end of the country spectrum.  And this idea, unfortunately, was on the OTHER end of the spectrum.  Truth be told, the idea wasn’t in my wheelhouse, either.  If anything, I needed cowriters to make up for MY lack of strength in that type of song.

Me and my big mouth.

We ended up with a song that was pretty well written, and pretty good (we even demoed it).  But it just didn’t sparkle.  I’m not saying that I would’ve gotten the song cut with any of my other cowriters (it still would’ve been a long shot), but I’ll never know.

Hopefully, I’ve learned my lesson.  Ever since then, I try to be more disciplined about bringing the best appropriate ideas to each cowrite.

I want my cowriters to do what they’re great at.

cowriters great at

Here’s a time I got it right.  Some years ago, I found out comedy legend Ray Stevens (“Mississippi Squirrel Revival,” “The Streak,” “It’s Me Again, Margaret”) was working on a political comedy album.  Just so happened, I had a silly title called, “Caribou Barbie” about Sarah Palin (no, really).  Did I throw this idea out in my next cowrite?  Uh-uh.  I called up Matt Cline and Max T. Barnes.

Matt and Max both wrote for Ray at the time, so I knew our song would get a good listen.  But even more importantly, I knew those two guys would write it right up Ray’s alley.  Max already had a couple songs on the project, and Matt is just plain great at country comedy songs.  I basically just had to throw that T-bone of a hook in between those two Rottweilers and get out of the way.  The result?

Ray recorded the song for his album.  There’s even a silly video… (it’s political comedy, ya’ll… don’t take it too seriously, and don’t get too uptight).

Of course, I can’t guarantee that simply pairing the right idea with the right cowriter will result in a cut.  There are just so many things that go into landing a cut that I’ll never make that promise.  But bringing the right idea into a cowriter who is great at that kinda thing will probably result in a better song and a more enjoyable cowrite.

And you sure won’t regret that.

What about you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Do you have any stories about bringing in an idea to just the right cowriter?  Or to the wrong one?  How’d it work out? Please leave a comment!

Also, if you think this post might be helpful for your songwriting friends, please share it through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, however you want.  I want to help as many songwriters as possible!

If you want to become a songwriting pro (in how you think, write songs or do business), then a great place to start is RIGHT HERE.  I want to help you on your songwriting journey.  I’ve been in the music business for years, and I’m here to help you get the cuts – and avoid the bruises.  CLICK HERE TO START HERE.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,


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.


One thought on “Set Your Cowriters Up For Success”

  1. Hi Brent, I recently submitted a song for review that has a lighthearted, funny theme. I usually don’t even write these kinds of songs. The evaluator said he’s not sure how many artists would want to sing about this night after night. True, and I appreciate their professional opinion very much. However, I’m sure that someone would like it! This post came just as I was thinking that. I think the right song for the right person is so important. Thanks always for your insights and sharing your stories and knowledge. Blessings, Ty Devine

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