How Do Songwriting Sessions Work?Posted by Mike Schuck
When you are starting out as a songwriter, there is so much to do! Between writing your songs at home, recording them, learning how to mix and master your music, finding someone to help market your songs, and performing them, there are just the basics of being a musician.
So, when you start trying to take your craft more seriously, it can get very busy.
It’s easy to fall into a slump and put off what needs doing because you don’t have time for it. You might even give up completely due to lack of motivation or inspiration.
Fortunately, this is where having a songwriting session comes in handy. A songwriting session is simply a meeting place where you can write a song without any distractions.
You can invite anyone you want to join you (as long as they like to write) and every person gets their own notebook and pen to use while you work. This helps keep things separate and gives each participant control over what part of the process they want to focus on.
Having a group writing session once a week is a great way to revamp your songwriting process and connect with other writers. Not only does it refresh your skills, but you also get new ideas and tips from others.
Exchange contact information
During our songwriting sessions, I always start with asking how his or her week has been so far. This can be anything from work related to personal to music related. After this small chat, I usually ask if there is anyone he or she would like to collaborate with or if they have any tips or tricks for me as a writer.
My writing process often times comes down to having a notebook and pen ready at all time. When one of them feels inspired, they will doodle in their notebook or write a short note about something that struck a chord with them. Then they will go back to their computer and type up what they wrote.
This is where many writers get stuck because they don’t know what to do next. So, I help my collaborators by telling them to take some time and create an exercise for themselves. They can make it written, spoken, or both!
Having a goal such as practicing your lyrics or working on new melodies helps you focus more than just letting your mind wander.
Exchange links to each other's work
A song writing session is typically one person with a creative spirit creating a piece of music in their room with no input from anyone else. This can be done at home, in a studio, or anywhere else you have access to an audio device and software such as Microsoft Word or Spotify.
By exchanging linked songs that inspire each other, new melodies, lyrics, and rhythms are exposed to each other. Both participants gain something from this process so it creates a healthy community vibe!
Songwriters will share their work with others for many reasons; to learn how they create songs, to meet like-minded people, to get feedback, to improve their craft, and to achieve success. It’s not about what you get but how you respond to it.
It’s very common for someone who has shared a link to also offer some tips or tricks of the trade. If you're ever feeling overwhelmed by the state of your own creativity, take a look at all the materials another artist left behind.
Meet up in person
Writing songs is a lot of work, which is why most songwriters hold writing sessions in person or via online apps like Pen-tablet (take notes) and/or Skype.
Many people begin recording their own music by doing so. Many famous artists started out just writing lyrics and melodies before looking into producing their recordings and seeking help with mixing and mastering.
You can also look into how to start composing your first song or learn about the process of rewriting a bad verse or chorus. There are plenty of resources available to you!
General tips for writers
Writing a poem or article does not require any special equipment or software beyond an internet connection and notebook and pen.
That being said, taking time to hone your writing skills and working towards improving your prose will make your writing more interesting and crisp.
Most importantly, have fun writing! No one should ever feel that they have to write “well” or even at all.
Some people are better storytellers than poets, some people are much faster at handwriting than typing, and some people enjoy creating art so there is no need to be self conscious when it comes to putting down words on paper or canvas.
A lot of songwriters spend hours in their studio creating songs, but they don’t actually get to enjoy them because they have to take a long time finding what lyrics will go into which melodies will fit for different songs.
So, how do you become a famous singer if you aren’t naturally good at it? You need to learn how to write your own songs!
The first step is to pay attention to music that people like and try to figure out why they liked it and then create your songs with similar ingredients.
Next, you need to be able to play the guitar or the piano (or both) really well so that you can put those pieces together yourself. And finally, you need to devote regular time to writing and developing your songwriting skills.
It's great to dream about being a superstar musician, but you'll never make it as a struggling artist unless you do something to move forward.
Obtain permission to use their music
As with any form of artistic expression, your creativity can be limited by what you are allowed to do. If you want to write a song that includes this piece of music as part of it, you will need its owner’s consent (and preferably a royalty agreement) before you can include it in your songs.
This is similar to how artists must clear copyright for other pieces of music used in their songs.
Running out of ideas is normal! A lot of writers find writing easy after a few minutes of creating new material. When you hit a wall, take some time away and return when you feel more inspired.
Write the song together
After both members have done some initial writing, it’s time to get into a writing session where both of you contribute lyrics and music at the same time. This is typically called the “Tandem Writing Session.”
During this session, one person writes a line or two, then the other adds a response or restatement of that thought while incorporating the earlier lyric into their own contribution. It can really work well if used correctly!
This tandemship technique works best when people bring an honest desire to write. If one writer feels pressured to keep up with the speed of the other writer, the whole process will be scrapped. Make sure everyone wants to collaborate and use this method sincerely.
Using this method takes a lot of trust in each other’s talent. In fact, it’s more likely to fail than succeed because no one is guaranteed success. However, there are tricks to make it work better.
One trick we recommend is having a wordy pen friend who you share your songs with so they can help brainstorm concepts and add additional layers to the lyrics. This way, whoever is listening can add new insights that may otherwise be forgotten.
Another good rule of thumb is never take yourself too seriously when collaborating on songs.
Outsource the recording to a studio
As mentioned before, songwriters spend hours creating their songs and investing in your music career means spending time writing and producing your own tracks!
In fact, professional writers usually have several people they collaborate with regularly for the creative process. This could be through social meetings or formal collaborations like work agreements.
Finding someone who can help you write new songs is very possible if you are willing to look outside of your genre. You do not need to limit yourself to other musicians that share similar styles as you.
There are many ways to get quality content for your album; it does not need to be from a collaborator directly. Technology has made it easy to produce great content quickly and efficiently.
You can use online voice recording apps to gather needed vocals or create your own by recording yourself! A lot of these applications also offer free features so there is no risk trying them out.
Credit the song to the entire team
As we mentioned before, it takes a lot of work for the writer to create their first good verse or chorus. It can be difficult being creative when you don’t have much material to work with!
That’s why most artists have a writing session set up where they bring in someone else's material and rework it. A writing session is when two people join together to make a better second version of something that one person already has.
This is how your average songwriter writes music - they write what they know, then get help making it sound more professional!- Jessica O'Brien
This is very common practice among writers. Writing teams are usually made up of two people, but some are three or even five. They may swap who does which part of the song so that everyone gets a chance to put in his or her own special touch.
It also helps having different styles in songs, so that each member adds something new to the piece.
The Jam Addict team is a revolving door of writers who care about music, its effects on culture, and giving aspiring artists tools and knowledge to be inspired and keep on creating.
If you have any questions or concerns or just want to drop us a line, don't hesitate to contact us! We always appreciate the feedback.