Wow, Soundcheck Series does not cease to amaze me! We spent last Monday evening with Grammy-nominated Ben Cooper from Nashville TN. His topic was about the hows and whys of co-writing. He was insightful, genuine and gracious.
He shared ten characteristics of successful co-writing.
Ben started out by saying “No one ever arrives at the perfect song. We will be learning until we die.” That ended up being co-writing characteristic #1: Humility.
Why co-write? His reply is simply, “Because two people can accomplish more than one. You sharpen each other, encourage each other, you share each other’s strengths and shoulder the weaknesses.”
Ben shared an old African proverb, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’” These cover co-writing characteristics #2 A Servant Attitude, #3 Being Graceful, #5 Being Teachable and #7 Being Likable.
Ben compares co-writing to first dates. ”Most are okay. A few are bad. Some are really great and those are the ones that make it all worthwhile.” You get together and have a little small talk. You go back and forth in a ping pong style conversation, sharing ideas, beginning to develop a song.
He explains the need to overcome feelings of inadequacy and competition. You are working hand in hand towards the same goal. It is in co-writing that we write better songs. Being a good collaborator, we set up an environment to write great songs. #8 ‘Having Perspective’, #9 ‘Being Joyful’ and #10 ‘Be Patient’.
Ben explains the difference between being inspired and being prepared for inspiration. He says, “Come prepared to receive inspiration. You aren’t going to magically be inspired right at 10am every Tuesday, but you can come prepared to be inspired.” He recommended a book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julie Cameron (the same book Tim Fagan highly recommended at last month’s Soundcheck Series Expo). Last but not least, #4 Being Disciplined and #6 Being Prepared.
He ended with some insights in the world of publishers. He said, “The hardest meeting to get with a publisher is the second one. You need to be ready, unique and amazing.”
He overheard a publisher early in his career tell a songwriter that they needed to go home and write 200 songs and then come back. Ben couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. For a professional that’s two years worth of work! Now he gets it. It’s a craft and you need to work at it over and over and continue to refine each element. He compared it to building a chair. Don’t hold on too tightly to some songs. Focus on writing as a practice.
Ben left us with a challenge: Are there people in this room or anywhere that come to your mind that you want to write with? Are there mentors you’d like to write with or gain wisdom from? Make a list of those people and make it happen.
Kaisie here: I asked someone at the top of my list out on a co-writing date. She said, ‘YES!’