Establish a routine that gets your mind in the right space to write. Mine usually includes an hour of swimming and a cup of coffee. On the way to the studio, I don’t listen to music. I think about the co-write of the day and what I can do to give us the best chance to write a hit.
Go into EVERY co-write rested and prepared. I never go into a co-write without hundreds of ideas and some knowledge of who is recording that we might have a chance to get a cut with.
Remove distractions while you write. I turn off my phone and try to focus completely on the song. I get in my “zone”. Sometimes so much so that I forget what a co-writer looks like after the write. I’m not focused on what they look like. I’m only focused on writing a hit with them.
Do what you do best. If you are better at lyrics, find co-writers that are great with melodies. If you are best at melodies, then work with great lyricists. Don’t try to do everything. Try to be the best at what you do. Learn to rely on others to fill in where you are weaker.
Write with people that elevate your game. It doesn’t take many co-writes to figure out if you are bringing each other up or down. If you discover that a co-write isn’t working, then don’t keep writing together. I’ve been on both sides of that discussion. At the end of the day, if you are both trying to get cuts and you aren’t writing hits together, it’s best to agree to be friends, but to end the co-writing relationship.
Dig deep for ideas. It is a million times easier to write a hit when you start with a great idea than it is to try and turn a mediocre idea into a hit. The better ideas you have, the better your chances of commercial success are. This is one of the few areas that you directly control. You CAN come up with great ideas. No one can stop you. Those ideas can help you get better co-writes and can elevate your writing in every way.
Become a student of artists that you are pitching to. The more you know about them, the better off you are. Learn about their personal lives, what topics they like to sing about, grooves they tend to like, their range, etc. That information gives you a much better shot at writing something an artist would like.
Learn how the music business works. It’s hard to succeed if you don’t know how the business works and who the players are in the genre in which you write. The more you know, the better your chances.
Do the right things long enough and you WILL succeed. I believe it!