Songwriters: How To Lose A Co-Writer (And Friend)

by Marty Dodson
Mar 10, 2023

There are a number of quick ways but these are my top 9 on how to lose a co-writer and friend…

1) Show up late, drunk or hungover regularly.

I can’t count the times co-writers have shown up in bad shape and I consider that wasting my time. Be professional. Be on time. in other words, be ready to work.

2) Show up with nothing. No ideas, no grooves. Zero.

You’d be amazed how many times this happens. Who shows up for work unprepared to do anything? No one who wants to be around for a while. Come in prepared with lots of ammo and give your best every day.

3) Write down all of the ideas your co-writer throws out so you can write them later.

Not cool. They aren’t giving you all of their ideas. They are offering up ideas so that you can choose your favorite. The others are theirs to write later. If you like one that you DIDN’T write that day, you can always say, I’d love to write that other idea with you if you haven’t used it by the next time we write.

4) Try to “teach” your co-writer how to be a better writer.

Don’t casually hand them a copy of Song Building on their way out of the session. If you consider yourself “above” someone else’s level, you probably shouldn’t write with them.

5) Criticize your co-writers ideas without offering any of your own.

I once had a co-writer that said “I think we can beat that” for 3 hours without offering any alternatives. I promptly asked him to “beat it”, as in “leave”. This should probably be at the top of my how to lose a cowriter list!

6) The guy who talks trash about his co-writers.

You know the routine. “Well, he was in the room, but I really wrote the whole thing by myself.” Always makes me think “And I would want to write with you, WHY?”

7) The name dropper.

No one cares who you hang out with or what names you can toss around if you can’t write a great song. Let the songs do the talking and resist the urge to drop names.

8) The bragger.

No one wants to hear all of your accomplishments unless they ask. And they probably won’t ask. Again, let the songs speak for you.

9) The guy that doesn’t pay his bill!

If you agree to demo a song, pay your part. No one wants to pay your bill for you

It’s not that hard to be a great co-writer. Be humble and kind. Be honest and reliable.

Give your very best every day. Communicate well. Encourage your co-writers and lift them up to others. Those are ways that you make progress in the music business.

Write on! MD

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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