5 Qualities Of A Bad Songwriting Co-Writer

by Marty Dodson
Jun 20, 2017

Bad Cowriters

Through the years, I have collected a list of qualities that make someone a bad co-writer. If you want to succeed as a co-writer, don’t be this guy (or girl).

Comes to the writing session unprepared.

I don’t know how many times I have heard a co-writer say “I’ve been writing a lot and I’ve got nothing today”. If you don’t have anything, cancel the appointment. Better to give your co-writer a snow day than to waste their time. Have ideas, a feel, a guitar lick, a groove….something, or don’t come at all.

Can‰’t let go of his/her own ideas.

If you can’t ever accept that someone can have a better idea than you do, you need to write alone. I have written with people who never liked any idea I had and I got the distinct impression that my role for the day was to tell them how great they were. Good co-writers listen well and they can let go of an idea if a better one comes along. A great line can kill a song if it doesn’t work in context. Let go of any sacred cows and let the song be king. Do whatever is best for the song in every instance.

Doesn’t contribute.

I have cuts with co-writers who only contributed one line to the song, but they tried hard and participated all day long. That’s fine. What’s not cool is a co-writer who is on the phone or the Internet all day and is never really engaged in the process. This happens more than you would imagine. Stay engaged and throw out ideas. Even if they are bad, they may spark the right idea from someone else.

He/She is in awe of your success.

Co-writes where one person is in awe of the other turn into fan club sessions. Nothing really gets done because one person is afraid to challenge the other. You are not going to tell someone you are in awe of that their line is no good or their melody is boring. Tell yourself that you deserve to be in the room and that you have something too contribute. If you can’t make yourself believe that, you are probably not ready for this co-write yet.

Continually calls or emails to ask about the song after you finish the co-write.

It’s hard to be a new writer and not get any feedback from your song, but you don’t want to ruin your writing relationship with a great co-writer by bugging them to death about the song. If the song gets put on hold or gets cut, they WILL tell you. If not, there is nothing to tell you. Trust that your co-writer will let you know if something happens with your song. Until then, take a deep breathe, and work on the next song. Collaboration with another writer is a relationship you want to treat with respect.

Keep these 5 pointers in mind and you will improve your co-writing relationships and you‰’ll have people wanting to write with you more!

Write on! Marty

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson is a multi #1 songwriter, co-founder of SongTown, and co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Cowriting and Song Building: Mastering Lyric Writing


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