THE SONGWRITER’S GUIDE TO CO-WRITING
The idea guy. Some days we are digging deep for ideas and having trouble ﬁnding an idea that everyone loves. So, I open up the idea database and really dig for a great idea.
The editor. Some days, my co-writer is on ﬁre and is just spitting out stuff left and right. On these days, I try to hit “record” quickly and to write down the best of the best that they are throwing out. Then, my job is to help discover and piece together all of the best stuff. Sometimes on these days, I do very little actual writing. But, I’m serving the song by editing and pasting together what is coming out in the room.
The lyric guy. Sometimes, I’m the one people are leaning on for lyrics. So, I try to bring my “A” game and produce lyrics that make our song awesome.
The melody guy. Most days, this is me. my co-writer is a lyricist only, so I’m driving the melody train. This one is most enjoyable for me. I try to ﬁnd melodies that are interesting and unique so that our song sounds great to the ear.
The instrumentalist. If my co-writer doesn’t play an instrument, then it falls on me to come up with something cool on the piano or even sometimes on percussion, just making the groove, to keep us moving along.
The mediator. Sometimes, in a three way co-write, I’m the mediator. When my two co-writers can’t agree, I try to ﬁnd middle ground and work out a peace agreement. This one doesn’t happen often, but it does happen more than you might imagine.
The challenger. Sometimes my co-writers want to settle for something that’s not awesome. So, I’m the one who challenges us to dig deeper, to keep working and to make sure we knock the song out of the park.
Learning to play those 7 roles well will make you a better co-writer. In your next co-write, step back every now and then to see if you are playing the right role, or if you need to change roles to serve the song better. Remember, “The song is king”. Do whatever it takes to make it great!
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