14 May Networking and Collaboration
Networking and Collaboration
Tips for Songwriters
Most of us would agree that songwriting can be a pretty solitary activity, but sometimes, two pens (or computers or guitars) can be better than one. Think back to the incredible partnerships of Lennon and McCartney, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Ashford & Simpson and George and Ira Gershwin, whose bodies of work have left an indelible mark on music.
There can be some definite upsides to co-writing and collaborating. One, pairing up with another writer can make your songs better. You can play off each other’s strengths and come up with ideas or lines or melodies that you never would have come up with by yourself. Two, a good co-writer can unstick you when your stuck and keep you motivated to stay on track. Three, it can be more fun. Four, you can expand your network. So how do you find a co-writer or partner in rhyme (ha!). And more importantly, how do you find a co-writer that is a good fit for you? Here are some tips on networking and collaborating, whether you intend to pursue a longtime partnership or just write together once for a songwriting contest.
Every Interaction Is a Potential Way In
Trying to break into the music business is like being in sales. You never know where your next opportunity will come from. This can be good and bad. The good thing is that you can find breaks in unlikely places. The bad is that it means you should always be on your game when you are meeting people and that can be a lot of pressure. Also, be nice to everyone. You never know who will rise in the ranks and be the gatekeeper to the gate you want into! It happens over and over again! Never burn bridges!
Meet People Through Other People
One of the easiest ways to meet people is through other people. Go listen to live music, follow an act or performer you really like (in a non-creepy way). Hang around your music friends and have them introduce you. If you like someone’s music or performance, don’t be afraid to tell them that you’re a fan. You probably already know some people, but never feel shy about making the acquaintance of other people who are also artists.
Music Conferences, Workshops, Events, Like a Songwriting Competition or Live Performance
A great way to meet future co-writers is at music conferences, like the I Create Music Expo or DIY CD Baby conference. NSAI also has local workshops throughout the country as well as their huge songwriting festival, Tin Pan South, which takes place in Nashville in the Spring. Also, being involved in songwriting competitions like Music City SongStar are a great way to build a community. Meet the other contestants at a competition and let them know what you liked about their songs. If you attend the Music City SongStar Showcase, you can meet the winners and hear them perform their songs.
Social Media makes it easier than ever to connect with other musicians from the convenience of your living room. You no longer have to live in one of the music epicenters to network. You can create a friendship with other writers by following them on their socials, commenting and supporting them. YouTube and Sound Cloud are great ways to hear what other artists and independent songwriters are doing. Set up a Google alert to get notices of your favorite artists or musicians and when they’re playing at a concert or event near you, go and introduce yourself.
Always Be On the Lookout
You don’t have to take out an ad to find other artists in your area. If you go to live shows or are part of the local music scene in other ways, you probably already know talented songwriters. Again, you may not want someone whose style matches your own if you want to stretch your creative wings. Look for someone whose music speaks to you, but who you think will be able to challenge you or whose strengths would balance out your weaknesses.
Is Timing Everything?
Co-writing can be a little more challenging to get your schedules in sync, but today more than ever, you can collaborate by sharing digital files, using Skype or FaceTime. You will learn whose styles work well with yours and whose don’t. One of the biggest things to look for is someone’s professionalism and work ethic. If they flake out on you and you really like the song, that can be frustrating. See how serious they are about their music. Try to set expectations up front. There is something to be said for finishing a song, even if you don’t like it. Sometimes, it’s the next song you write that will be the one that clicks.
Does Your Potential Partner Make You Feel Shy Or Nervous?
Co-writing is kind of like dating. Sometimes you click with someone and sometimes you don’t. The first date is usually the most awkward, so give your new co-writer a chance. If after a few sessions, you’re just not getting anywhere, try to finish the song and move on to someone you do click with. One of the best parts of collaborating is feeling safe to blurt out ideas, even if they are less than brilliant. Sometimes, your line that you think is ridiculous might spark a great idea from your co-writer. You have to get to the point where you both feel safe to share. And when your collaborator does share, be careful not to be negative. If you don’t like the idea, give it some thought or suggest you keep looking for another line. If you don’t ever get to the point where you feel confident in sharing your ideas, you might want to move on.
Work with someone completely different from you.
Like peanut butter and chocolate, sometimes two different things can make an amazing new creation! Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and write with someone outside your genre, especially if you like their work. Some of the best pieces have been created by people who came together and showed off how different they were. Everyone still thinks of the pairing of Bing Crosby and David Bowie as extremely unlikely, but no one can say the final product of their “Little Drummer Boy” wasn’t brilliant. Michael Jackson wrote “Do the Bartman” for The Simpsons, and The Bee Gees wrote the biggest country hit of the 1980s, “Islands In the Stream.”
The point is, even if you only write by yourself, be open to new co-writing and networking opportunities. You never know where a new partnership can take you.
About us: Foxhedge Music is a management company and recording studio located in historic Leipers Fork. Our mission is to support and encourage songwriters. We believe they are the back-beat of Music City, while we continue to invest our time and resources in the Music City community. Through the Music City SongStar Songwriting Contest, we want to give songwriters a chance to have their music heard. We’re believers in creativity, chasing dreams and getting the chance to pursue your passion.