Collaborating: Finding songwriting partners

Finding and working with a Collaborator can be difficult and you may have to try many partners before meeting with someone you can work with comfortably.  Proximity, dedication, similarity of view, personality and technical ability should be taken into account.

Before you start creating songs with an associate songwriter, lyricist or composer, or producer, it is essential to form a set of rules and guidelines to prevent misunderstandings and everyones interests.

For instance:-
The songwriting partnership splits up – What happens to the songs?

Generally speaking the initiator of the musical theme or lyrics has the first claim on the song. As such they own the original copyright, which they should secure before working with anyone. Any other contributors to the song can be credited and share the royalties, but the copyright holder would retain the rights to change, publish or use the song in whichever way they choose.

This can be a bit of a minefield, for instance most backing or session players would contribute their ideas or riffs but normally only receive a flat fee for their time, whereas the mate who devises a killer riff and main melody line would have contributed considerably towards the songs creation and deserves both credit and royalty split if the track is published.

Regardless of wether you intend to publish, record, perform or just write for fun, it is far better to formalise a contract outlining acceptable use and potential royalty splits from the start, rather than be embroiled in court action and unable to use your favourite tracks at an important phase in your career!

Another type of collaboration is where a producer or songwriter works with a singer with the aim of recording and performance. Many individuals who are musically inclined, are not blessed with voices to match their otherwise creative abilities and therefore, actively seek singers who can do justice to their material. This can be a real boon to the singer who is unable to write as well as aspiring writers who are as yet too inexperienced to produce that hit song!

First of all you need to find your collaborator! If you don’t have a musically inclined friend, there are several things you can try:-

Approach local performing musicians
Contact local music teachers and music schools
Post to College & University bulletin boards
Put up an ad in reheasal and recording studios
Advertise in the local paper and music magazines
Post ads to online musicians/songwriters classifieds
Visit your local music store and read/post on their bulletin board
Check out Open Mic & Jam Nights for musicians/songwriters to collaborate with.