This is part 3 in our 3-part mini-series all about cowriting!
Here are all three articles in this series:
- Part 1: A Solo Songwriter’s Introduction to Cowriting: The Benefits, and Why All Songwriters Should Cowrite
- Part 2: How to Find Cowriters when you Don’t Live in a Music City
- Part 3: Different Ways Songwriters Can Cowrite Together (In Person and Long Distance)
So you’ve decided to give cowriting a try. You’ve gone to a local open mic night and met some awesome other songwriters and artists you want to write with. All that’s left to do is get some time on the books to sit down and write!
But where exactly can you write together? Are there rooms for this sort of thing?
Technically, yes, but usually only in music centered places like Nashville and New York. So where do songwriters in the rest of the world get together and cowrite?
Here are some of the different ways songwriters make their cowrites work – in person and online.
All the Different Ways Songwriters Can Cowrite Together
Writing Rooms at a Performance Rights Organization (PRO)
If you’re lucky enough to live in a town with a PRO headquartered there, consider affiliating. PRO’s usually offer writing rooms to their members. These are fabulous because they building itself is staffed and the rooms are well maintained. It’s a great, neutral and typically safe place to meet up with new cowriters for a write.
What is a PRO? Read this post I wrote for SoundFly that goes into great detail on what a PRO is, how they operate, and the different PRO’s you can join (in America).
Songwriter Membership communities often times have buildings with rooms for people to meet up and write. NSAI in Nashville has a fantastic lower level in their historic Music Mill building that’s full of writing rooms. Not only is it a fun place to write, it’s a great place to meet other potential cowriters!
If you live in a place where there are membership communities like NSAI, call them up and see if they have writing rooms available for their members.
Writing Room Small Businesses
Ever wish there was a place where you could pay a monthly subscription fee like you do for Spotify or the gym or anything else, and use their writing rooms? Such places do exist, though I only know of one that’s in business currently. The Workshop in Nashville offers 4 rooms that members can book anytime, 24 hours a day. It’s a fantastic resource for local or visiting writers who need an easy, inspiring, no-fuss place to write.
- UPDATE: The Hutton Hotel has opened up 3 gorgeous new writing rooms! One even includes a studio. This is a great spot to book for your trip to Nashville if you’re coming to town to write.
Lucky enough to have a write booked with someone you call a friend? Invite them over to your place or go to theirs. Doesn’t get much more convenient than that! Put out a charcuterie and make it a thing.
Important disclaimer, however: NEVER meet someone you DON’T KNOW at a place you’ve never been. Certainly not at their house. You can put yourself in real danger. Seriously, if you haven’t know them long enough to trust being completely alone with them, then don’t write at a secluded place. Book a room in a neutral location with people around! If they’re pushy, cancel the write. It’s not worth it.
If you have local recording studios in your town, call them up and see if they’d be open to letting you and a friend write there when they’re not booked. Offer to do something for them in exchange – clean the break room, straighten up, tune the guitars, take out the trash – instead of charging you for studio time. It could be a wonderfully inspiring and convenient place to set up shop for a few hours and write.
Know of a local spot with a really great, un-crowded patio? Bring your guitar and meet your cowriter for drinks and a cowrite! Just be sure you won’t be disturbing other patrons as cowriting can be, well, loud. It’s courteous to ask first if you can take up the corner table and write for a few hours. Remember to buy something (coffee, a beer, lunch), tip your server well and let her know you’ll be there for a few hours!
Parks are a beautiful public spot to put out a few lawn chairs and write for a little while. They’re usually accessible most days throughout the year, and are of course, free for public use! Bring your Yeti and lay out a blanket. Beautiful!
If you can’t make a cowrite work in person, Skyping is a fantastic way to write long distance. It’s free to set up an account, and all you need is an internet connection and a web camera. This usually works best with just two writers (though I have had some awesome three way Skype writes in the past).
An alternative to Skype, Facetime makes it super easy to write using your phone or Apple device. Most people have an iphone these days, which makes Facetiming a wonderfully convenient way to cowrite.
Tips for making your cowrite rock
- Set a start time & an end time
It’s obvious that you’ll be picking a time to start the write, but picking a time to close up and end the cowrite is also important. It allows you guys a set amount of time to write – which manages how much energy you devote to the song, how you pace the write and yourself, and offers you a foreseeable ending if the write isn’t going to well. All parties won’t be wondering, “Man, I’m hungry, when can I break from this thing and get lunch?” 3-4 hours is standard in Nashville, but schedule a set length of time that works for you.
- Come with ideas
Don’t show up to a cowrite without any ideas to throw into the room, that’s just rude! It’s like showing up to a potluck party empty handed. Come prepared with ideas that you could write about or at least start from. This is where a hook book really comes in handy!
- Lean into the process
Cowriting is weird. It forces you to be vulnerable with people you may not necessarily be that close to. You’ll share a lot. You’ll throw a lot of ideas into the room, some good, some not so good, some terrible. But lean into the cowriting process and give it all you got. It get’s easier every time!