Show up late, drunk or hungover regularly. I can’t count the times co-writers have shown up in bad shape and I consider that wasting my time. Be professional. Be on time. Be ready to work. If you’d want to have any of those habits, it is perfectly fine in your personal life. But when it comes to a writing session, you must show up in your perfect shape and make sure you can offer your best.
Write down all of the ideas your co-writer throws out so you can write them later. Not cool. They aren’t giving you all of their ideas. They are offering up ideas so that you can choose your favorite. The others are there to write later. If you like one that you didn’t write that day, you can always say, “I’d love to write that other idea with you if you haven’t used it by the next time we write.” But just taking them and working on them on your own or with someone else is considered as stealing. Of course, it’s a safe version of stealing and you won’t go to jail for that but it’s just simply not cool! Even if you ask politely about it, in some cases the other person might just give you the permission to go and work on the idea on your own and keep it as yours.
Try to “teach” your co-writer how to be a better writer. Like you, for instance. If you consider yourself “above” someone else’s level, you probably shouldn’t write with them. You really don’t need to walk in a room, trying to collaborate with someone you can’t respect their skills and knowledge.
Criticize your co-writers ideas without offering any of your own. I once had a co-writer that said “I think we can beat that” for 3 hours without offering any alternatives. I promptly asked him to “beat it”, as in “leave”. Don’t just say you can do this and that and keep telling your co-writer that their ideas are bad. If you have anything, you are more than welcome to offer them, but just saying it’s not good doesn’t get your session anywhere and it’s just a huge waste of your time and your co-writer’s time.
It’s not hard to be a great co-writer. Be humble and kind. Be honest and reliable. Give your very best every day. Communicate well. Encourage your co-writers and lift them up to others. Those are ways that you make progress in the music business.
Hangi Tavakoli is our in-house established and professional music producer with 20 years of experience in songwriting, music production, mix and mastering. He has written and produced more than 5,000 published songs to-date, including some major hits in international scale.