When people enter the world of Nashville, and in fact pretty much all of music these days, particularly if you are trying to “up the level of your odds”, by expanding your chances, they find themselves in a co-writing session. It is not easy, songwriting is a very internal art form, and yet you are trying to exist in a very extroverted world. Many don’t really understand etiquette, or even how to approach it. So here, I’ve tried to list a few things you might think of before the appointment, to make it go a little faster, and easier.
#1. LEARN ABOUT YOUR POTENTIAL PARTNER(S).
The biggest thing you can do is COMMUNICATE. Visiting their web site, listening to their CD, or downloads are helpful to know who they are. The first part of any relationship is to TALK. Sitting down for the first 30 minutes or so, talking about passions, family, background, musical influences, etc. Is a big help in getting to ideas and writing.
#2. LISTEN TO SOME MUSIC.
When you are face to face (or online), listen to who they are INFLUENCED by. What songs (the more specific the better) they are really driven by. What made them want to do music? What song do they wish THEY HAD WRITTEN? And not just the current radio hits, but classic songs work great.
Doing a Google search, or YOU TUBE and viewing a video is a good way to get up to speed.
Most often, there will be STARTING PLACE by finding a groove, feel, mood, that can get things kicked off.
#3. HAVE SOME IDEAS READY.
Each session is usually different. Some people like more finished things, some like pieces, titles, feels, chord progressions, grooves, drum loops, full or partial lyrics, you never know what is going to inspire an idea. I personally like SENARIOS. If someone can give me a style, or TYPE, of music, and a storyline, I can usually tap into it pretty quickly. An example of a storyline might be the MAREN MORRIS, hit song, “MY CHURCH.”
“I really enjoy getting in my car, shutting out the rest of the world, turning up some classic music and singing at the top of my lungs. It is like a religious experience to me. That is “MY CHURCH.” (This would be how I would describe this song. And putting it to a “GOSPEL/Country/rock edge” would cement the ATTITUDE of the song.
#4. BE FLEXIBLE AND LISTEN TO THEIR IDEAS.
A lot of time it is like an idea “SKEET SHOOT.” With things being thrown out, shot down, and rejected. Writers write similar things, it might be too much like some song on the radio, they might have heard the idea too many times or simply NOT INTERESTED in the idea. At that point, you have to be prepared to write on the fly. MAKE IT UP!
#5. HAVE DETAILS.
Many great songs, have personal details in them that are RELATABLE to other people. Having personal details about your's or other people’s lives, situations they have come from, etc. help DEMONSTRATE. But never let the FACTS get in the way of a GOOD STORY. You are not writing books. Describing the situation, details on street names, rivers, states, towns, people (within reason), bring a sense of “realism” to it. But they never have to be TOTALLY real. They can be extrapolated, exaggerated, or just used as a starting place. Giving a listener some DETAILS, can set it up for their MIND’S eye. It is very difficult just to have EMOTION in a new way. So details help DEMONSTRATE what you are explaining.
SHOW, DON’T TELL.
#6. LIMIT CLICHÉ’S.
If you can ask “Have I heard this a million times and CAN’T WAIT to hear it again? And you have heard it before. Try to find a different way to say it. Watch tired, predictable rhymes. HEART AND APART, TRUE AND BLUE, EYES, REALIZE, LOVE AND ABOVE, have been used a billion times. Might want to try something different.
#7. SHOOT FOR A VERSE AND A CHORUS.
While we would like to finish every song we start then and there and many times that happens. Sometimes we run out of town or simply get stuck. If you can get a verse and a chorus, you have a ROAD MAP, to take with you and can work on your own, making a second appointment, finishing online/skype, etc.
#8. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS HAVE A RECORD OF THE SONG!!!!
Can’t stress this enough. Make sure you record into your phone, into your computer, on your pen and paper, however you write, never leave without a record of what you have done. People who write a lot, particularly professional writers, will have multiple appointments, sometimes on the same day, and will get into other songs before getting back together. Sometimes it can be a while between appointments, and you NEVER want to have to wait or ask them for their copies to get back to you. IT IS YOUR JOB TO MAINTAIN YOIUR OWN VERSION.
WRITE A HIT!!!! GOOD LUCK AND DON’T SUCK!