What You Should Know Before Co-Writing
by India McCarty –
If you glance at the songwriter credits on any music charts these days, you’ll notice that most hit songs are written by more than one writer. Most people think of songwriting as a solitary activity, but some of the best songs are written with more people in the room!
Writing songs with other people can help build your network. As a songwriter, you want to have a network of people in place who know who you are and what you do. This network of people can help you find opportunities that you never would have had otherwise! For example, your co-writer could connect you with someone at a label who you’d never have been able to get in contact with before.
When writing with other people, it’s important that you have good chemistry. You are partnering with someone to create a song that combines both of your perspectives and experiences. The right combination can create music! Pick co-writers who complement your skills, who you enjoy being around and who you can create something great with!
It’s also important to come to the co-writing session with plenty of ideas. There’s nothing worse than a co-writer who relies on you to come up with everything, so make sure you’re prepared for a session. They don’t have to be polished and perfect yet; sometimes even just a few words can spark a great song!
It sounds simple to just get together with some people and play around until you’ve got a song, but things can get tricky when it comes to figuring out who owns what.
When you write a song with someone else, you both have ownership of the song and its copyright. For example, if you wrote a song by yourself, you would own 100 percent of the song and control 100 percent of it. When you co-write, you control a percentage of the song. If you write a song with one other person, you’ll probably do a 50-50 split, meaning you each control 50 percent of the song. If you write with two other people, making a total of three writers, you could split the ownership into thirds, and so on and so forth.
However, you don’t always have to split evenly! Maybe you and another writer wrote all the lyrics and melody, while someone else contributed a bridge. You might decide to give that writer a smaller percentage of the song ownership. It is important that you agree with the other writers and have a written agreement on the percentage breakdowns.
The best kinds of co-writes are the ones where both collaborators feel like they’ve written something better than either could have written alone.
Even if co-writing doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, it’s worth a try. You’ll learn something, no matter what! You could gain a new perspective about your songs, be introduced to different writing techniques, and chances are it’ll make you a better songwriter in the end!