Who’s On First? At the beginning of the session, ask who sings lead vocals, backgrounds, and who plays what instruments. You might work with the guitarist to come up with a cool riff for the song. I remember on one of my co-writing sessions with one of the bands, their guitarist was a very talented musician and he took a guitar idea/riff I shared with him and made it five times cooler. If the band has a guy and a girl lead singer, consider writing a duet. Not a lot of duets are written, and this increases your odds of getting the album to a good direction. Bottom line: assess the band’s strengths and work with them. Learn them. Add your flavors to their base.
Keep Things Fun. Specially if you both of songwriter and producer like myself, it’s your job to make it rolling and make it fun and pleasant for everyone while it’s a productive session. I have shared of my best co-writing memories with the band named The Ways. We still laugh every time I see them about some of the ridiculous funny songs (not fit for print!) we wrote years ago. Whenever we got stuck writing a line I would break out into some ridiculous lyrics and they would chime in. Eventually when we made our way back around to the song we were working on, the missing line would fall into place. A sense of humor keeps positive creative energy flowing in the room. Just don’t let things get out of control and don’t lose focus on the main subject of being in that room: to write.
Keep Things Moving With A Great Idea. This might be the biggest key. Artists are extremely busy and juggling a million balls in the air. If things start dragging, they lose interest, which is the last thing you want! The best way to keep a good pace is by bringing a great idea to the table–a great title at least. I often try to outline a chorus melody and lyrics ahead of time. It’s normal for the artist to want to change up what you bring, but this way you’ll insure a solid starting point and avoid five people sitting around staring into space thinking this co-write might be a waste of time. A great idea that every one or at least the majority love it, will keep the team tight together in the session and makes everyone motivated to chip in whatever they can.