I got this great question from artist, singer and vocal coach Fain Spray today.
Check out her new single on Spotify and Apple Music!
What are the "Do’s and Don’t" for an artist to bring to a writing room, and what can an artist prepare to bring into the room to make a write run smooth?
This is a great question, as someone who spends a lot of time in writing rooms and studios with artists, I love it when an artist is eager and aware of themselves enough to ask that question.
I can give you an easy answer, and that is, the most important thing you need to take with you into a writing room is YOU.
This sounds stupid, but once you start wondering who you are as an artist and what you represent, that's when you really start contribution to the writing process.
So, here is my long answer to the things you can bring into the writing room.
1. Who are you?
A cowrite is like a blind date, you meet someone for the first time and you're supposed to write something that comes straight out of your heart in a few hours. How do you do that with a complete stranger? The best way to get the best song is to have a story ready about yourself. Who are you as an artist, are you a combo of Mary J Blige/John Mayer, or are you more of a Joni Mitchell meets Paul Simon? References like that are very handy for your co-writers. It immediately places you in spot that the writer can imagine what it is you are going for. Of course these references change over time, but just have a couple handy each time you walk into a new room.
Also, don't be afraid to overshare, talk about your life, what is going on, what you're mind is occupied with. Chances are you will write about that break-up, or that young love, or that thing that has been bugging you lately. Those are the real songs that will really matter to your audiences, because it's a true story!
2. Bring a start.
Anyone who has an iPhone can record and make notes on the spot. Once you start looking at the world from an artist perspective you are going to find stories in every normal day scenario. You're going to find song ideas everywhere, and you gotta document them. Start humming into your recording app while you're driving, write down cool sentences or song titles in your notes app, and make a good list. I always keep a notes with titles, another one with subjects and another one with lyric ideas.
This way, you will always have something to start from in a cowrite. See if you can be the one feeding the idea each time you walk into a cowrite, that way you have more of a lead on what the song is about and you can make sure that your cowriters are writing for you.
Any songwriter just loves to write, so if you don't give them a subject to talk about, they'll still write a song, but it might not be meant for you.
3. Read the room.
I'm sure some of you might have had this experience, you're in the room with someone and nothing comes out, you start throwing out ideas left and right but there is no response because the other writer is thinking in complete silence. Or, the other perspective on that is that you are trying to come up with an idea and the other person is just throwing ideas left and right and it makes you not be able to think of your own.
Whatever happens in a room, try to read how the other people like to work and explain to them how you like to work. "I just need 5 minutes to think about this, or, can you listen to these ideas, would love to know your thoughts!"
Once you start reading the room and you see how people work you can work together better. No one works in a vacuum, so make sure you interact with everyone else in the room.
I LOVE an artist who can be honest, if we're going down the rabbit holes of melody, lyrics, beats, arrangement or production and you realizes you don't love where it's going, say it as soon as possible. Everyone wants you, the artist, to be happy, but we don't know if you are if you can't tell us what you love or don't love.
Trust me, we WANT to hear your honest opinion, it won't hurt our feelings!!
5. It's about you.
I can tell you as a producer and co-writer that the cowrite is for and about you. So you might as well be ok with that. We are here to help you realize the best song or production possible. We are here for YOU!! The more information, guidance, tips, stories you can give us, the more chances we have to make something that you will absolutely love. and that is what we are here for.
So, that's my advice for you, GO BE YOU!