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Dec 14, 2016

How to Write Songs with a Band — Without Wanting to Break Up

While it's true some bands have a principle songwriter or source from an independent professional, some bands tackle songwriting as a team.
If you've ever endeavored such a feat, you're likely all too aware of the unique challenges posed by writing songs with a band. Between conflicting personalities to nailing down the most efficient songwriting process, it's not necessarily for the faint of heart.
But if you find your stride, writing songs together can help bolster your band in a big way. The following are a few sound strategies for approaching the process.


1. Establish a "leader"


If there are only two people in your band participating in the songwriting process, you can probably get away with approaching from a co-writing perspective. But if you have three or more members working on songwriting together, you're going to want to have a designated "lead." This person would be responsible for mediating in the event of creative disputes and, ultimately, making executive decisions should the group as a whole come to an impasse.


2. Be humble


Particularly if you're the quote-unquote leader or the person in the band who is considered the head songwriter, be humble. If you come at your band mates from a place of condescension or superiority, the process will be over before it ever really begins. For songwriting as a band to be successful, it has to be collaborative — and people are much less likely to communicate openly if they feel alienated.


3. Don't get defensive


When defenses go up, momentum goes down. Nobody likes to hear their work critiqued, but in a group setting it's highly unlikely everyone is always going to be on the same page. Besides, sometimes a suggestion or edit to an original idea leads to something even better. When bands write songs together, everyone has to be open to suggestion or you'll just end up butting heads non-stop.


4. Set aside the time


Songwriting is a creative process, sure, but it should also be treated like a job. If you commit to writing songs as a band, you should schedule time to devote your attention fully to doing so — your group isn't going to write the next lyrical masterpiece if half the band is too busy playing Titanfall 2. When you come together for a writing session, writing should be your top (read: only) priority.


5. Talk about logistics


Once your band's brainstorming yields some solid lyric and you've set those to music, you're probably going to be ready to hit the ground running. However, if it isn't a conversation you haven't already had, you need to talk about the technical and/or legal logistics. How much does a band member need to contribute to the songwriting process to get a byline? Will non-writing members of the band share any credit or income? How will revenue be divvied up? These are all crucial questions you'll need to answer before you ever begin recording or marketing the music you've just written. Decide as a group, and then put it in writing.

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