Monday, 10 February 2014

200% Awesomeness

After a much needed California vacation to visit family and friends, Collaborative Songwriting with Joe Bennett, we covered a few basics about collaborating.

It has been a good day getting back
into the songwriting swing  of things. I am very excited for this new module and look forward to the amazing collaborations ahead. Starting off the new trimester with the module

February 10th, 2014

Co-writing music is a common practice in the music industry and has been for decades. Why collaborate? Well, almost half of #1 hits between 11955 and 2000 were co-written so there's one point. There are pros and cons to collaborative songwriting, however there are numerous benefits to right the downfalls. If we want to be songwriters, we have to be able to write with others.

What are the creative benefits to collaborating?

Finding others to write with can compliment your skillset(s) such as finding a pianist that can play a hole hell of a lot better than you can... Reading up on some publishing FAQs, I read that most writers either write lyrics or music and less often do both. How true that is? I don't know because I can't imagine a reality when a lyricist is writing completely separated from some sort of meter and melody.

Another plus to collaborating is increasing your output. If you find someone you write well with, teamed up with double the output compensating for halving the pay off.

With a collaborator, you probably have a writers' block deterrent as well as instant feedback at your hands at all times.

Last, but not least, MOTIVATION. If only I were motivated to write a song a day. I could be a professional by now. Having someone other than yourself to commit writing time to can drastically change your daily/weekly/monthly output. Obviously, I should work on my motivational skills to write alone because I shouldn't only want to schedule writing when I'm feeling it.

What are the Career benefits of collaborating?

Writing with others, especially others that are further in their career than you, can up your networking and your reputation tremendously.

PUBLISHING! Writing with other published songwriters is basically an interview with a publishing company!

Getting a cut of the product is another goal worth noting. When you write with artists who do a lot of performing, you have a good chance of attaining a cut and all of the above.

Lastly, its a lot of fun...

Why would artists not want to collaborate?

For starters, most splits between co-writers is 50/50, so you are settling for less money.

Other possibilities include a sense of less individuality, risk of formulaic mediocrity, and/or the feeling of achieving less.

Here is a snapshot of a section from a Sound on Sound article on Publishing that I really like. Click here to read the full article.

Different Types of Relationships in Collaboration

Relationships with an equal. This sounds like a friendly,  healthy, and non-competitive environment to write in.

Relationships with someone who is better-known than you are. This can be helpful during the learning process and to attract attention yourself if necessary.

With a newcomer. Newcomers may be more green and willing to go back to the basics of simple songwriting that someone more weathered may have forgotten to pull out every now and again.

Lastly, with a contact or a 'surgeon', someone who takes apart songs and replaces the weaker parts with better things.

What are some common behaviors collaborators should practice?
  • Respecting the co-writers' idea
  • Replacing poor ideas with better ones
  • Always serve the song, not your ego
  • Be flexible in working methods
  • Be prepared to delete good ideas
  • Be focused and avoid distraction
  • If it isn't working, finish the song yourself! 
Collaboration Models

The Nashville Model - Looks a lot like two people sitting together face to face with an acoustic guitar and a pen and paper. 

The Svengali Model - popular back room songwriters behind the so-called songwriters such as
  • Sascha Skarbeck & Amanda Ghost (James Blunt)
  • Darren Lewis & Tunde Babalola (Lily Allen)
  • Dee Adam
  • Steve Robson
  • Eg White
  • Mike Batt
Demarcated Model - When two people are not face to face and/or working on different parts of the song (lyrics & melody).

Jamming Model - Looks a lot like what U2 is doing. Basically everyone jams until the song is created.

Top Line Model - Some one who specializes in top lines comes in and writes one for the artist of group. 


Having a songwriting environment that fits your needs is important. Some types of songwriting environments include a project studio, a rehearsal room, a songwriting room, and/or separate rooms. 

A few of the different types of processes and products are melody-setting (Mona Lisa), lyric-setting (Tempted), song over band (With or Without you), concept outward (You're Beautiful), and top line of b-track (The Promise).

Process Model

As you can see, vetoing ideas is not an acceptable way to collaborate or song write. When ideas aren't flowing the right way, keep it for another song. Nobody benefits from flat out rejecting ideas. If you don't think something fits, rather than shooting it down, offer something better in its place.

Negotiation is another aspect of songwriting that can be tricky. If something needs negotiating, there probably is a better lyric to replace it with.

Process Taxonomy

Time-Based Taxonomy

Production Taxonomy

The first day of class was great with Joe and the rest of the class. There are some people in the class that weren't in Songwriting Skills last trimester and I look forward to getting to know them.

Joe takes a lot of pictures of us when we're not looking... and they somehow make it into the next slides.... VOODOO

The barn was freezing today, hopefully the heating will be back online soon!

I will be working with Owain sometime this week for next Monday's collaboration! Wish us luck.

Yay for collaborating!!!


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