So let’s say you’re a lyricist who has lots of great song ideas but no melodies to hang them on. Or, let’s say, you’re an experienced musician and vocalist but can’t imagine putting words to any of your melodies. Songwriting collaboration in these – and many other – instances can be the ideal solution. The problem for many songwriters – especially those who don’t live in major music cities – is how and where to find your complementary songwriting match – or matches. For those of you ready to start co-writing and/or broaden your collaborator rolodex, I’ve put together some options below.
No matter where you live, there’s a high likelihood that there are at least a few cafes, restaurants or bars that host a regular songwriter night. Attending writer’s nights is a great way to not only get your existing songs out there but also to connect with other songwriters. It’s perfectly acceptable within the unwritten code of behavior to ask one of your songwriting peers whom you’ve just heard if they’d ever be up for collaborating. I’ve met some of my favorite co-writers that way. Be brave and your reward will come in the form of new collaborators and great songs.
These days, it’s an online world. Although I’ve always believed there’s nothing like a real-time collaboration in the same place, sometimes that’s just not a possibility. One of my favorite websites for pairing potential collaborators is SongwriterLink.com. Log in and start looking for your ideal co-writer.
Taking the time to attend a music conference is generally a good idea. That being said, one of the great resources that tends to get overlooked is your fellow conference attendees. While it’s always great to meet the music industry execs and attend workshops, some of the most lasting and productive relationships you’ll make at a conference are with the other songwriters and musicians. You’ll get an opportunity to hear their songs whether at a pitch to publisher panel or more spontaneously in a late night, hallway performance at the hotel. Either way, don’t forget to keep your eyes and ears open for potential songwriting collaborators.
It’s good to remember that just because you don’t live in a major music city doesn’t mean you can’t visit. As a matter of fact, planning visits to one (or more) of the music cities is well worth your while. Whether you’ll be attending a music conference as mentioned above or just taking a few days to familiarize yourself with the songwriting community and music industry in one of the big three cities, you’ll almost certainly run into other songwriters in a similar situation. Again, it takes just a little courage to reach out but the upside is almost always worth it.
In a related fashion, when you’re in a music city and if you’ve done a bit of homework/scheduling in advance, you’ll have an opportunity to meet with publishers, label execs or a writer/publisher relations representative at one of the performing rights organizations such as BMI, ASCAP or SESAC. Showing your songs to these folks might not result in a publishing deal or cut but, if you ask, they might have some collaborator recommendations for you. You never know.
Finding collaborators is not as difficult as you might imagine assuming you’re willing to put yourself out there a little bit. Hopefully the above options will make the path to co-writing a little more clear.