These days, in the music industry, labels expect that songwriters are ready and able to join writing camps without a blink or stutter - major pop artists typically have 5-10 writers on one song. Collaboration is a necessary evil these days, as the creativity juice of every single second within a song has to be squeezed to maximum potential. Every moment counts. Everything is monetized in the pop world, on the radio.
On the flipside - perhaps collaborating isn't all it's cracked up to be. Rapper Lil Wayne is notoriously known for asking every person in the studio to step outside while he records his verses. They respect his decision to do so and let him do his thing, no questions asked. When they enter the room, a mysterious brilliance has taken over the space and has been forever recorded to tape.
Perhaps we should consider other art forms that stray from collaboration. Authors typically live very sheltered lives, holing up with a pen and paper, needing to focus without external stimuli. Those people who aren't exactly magnetized to the art of collaboration may not be wrong. Sometimes it's hard to think straight - especially to think on an inspired, enlightened level, with others staring at you, waiting for your genius to strike.
For those who are interested in making the art of collaboration a bit smoother, we have some ideas:
- Enter the room with no expectations.
- Realize that no idea is a wrong idea - no good ideas will come from you second guessing everything that comes out.
- Give yourself the gift of patience. Don't try to be perfect and show-off on instruments that you may not have mastered just yet. Start small, perhaps just hum the prettiest melody that comes to mind and let it develop at it's own pace.
- Although it may be awkward, it may be best to discuss royalty and credit expectations before you write that hit song. You don't want to kill the vibe, so we suggest discussing this a few days before. If you're lucky enough to have a manager or label on your team, let them sort that out for you. However, to avoid future potential issues, we suggest sorting out the nitty gritty business details beforehand.
- For those who just can't get comfortable sitting in a room, sussing out ideas, here's a nice little trick that the digital age has gifted us. You can send tracks to your fellow musician and add layers back and forth. This also comes in handy when you are in two separate locations, perhaps miles, cities and even countries apart.
In the end, collaboration is your creative choice. Be honest with yourself with what feels the most natural. Enjoy learning from others and remember that music should be fun and not just stressful! Ideas come out of thin air in many unexpected, mysterious ways. Let things unfold as they will.