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Five ways to find the perfect songwriting collaborator

Pro7ect founder Lisa Fitz explains the best ways to find the perfect songwriting collaboration and get the most from your creative sessions…

Finding songwriters to collaborate with is an eternal quest, requiring endless supplies of stamina, ingenuity, luck, and resilience. As songwriters, we weave our way into all kinds of potentially fruitful, and routinely ineffective, creative situations, but it can sometimes feel like a one-step-forwards, two-steps-backwards dance. Even established songwriters are in constant pursuit of that highly venerated ‘Dream-Writing-Team ‘invitation.

Before founding the Pro7ect Songwriting retreats, I struggled to find the collaboration opportunities that I aspired to. Most songwriting work is speculative; meaning you don’t get paid until the song creates income from release, sync. or live performance. This journey is a long-hall flight, so many aspiring songwriters support their lifestyles by other means, making time alongside their ‘day-jobs’ to support their artistry.

If you are serious about making a career for yourself, these five suggestions may help you along your journey:

1. Go on a Pro7ect songwriting retreat.

Of course, I would say this, but it really does work! Attending a Pro7ect Songwriting retreat or Masterclass is an investment in your commitment to building real, and lasting, relationships with other writers and producers. They also give you the incredible opportunity to learn new writing & production skills, and essential professional coping strategies… all in a face-to-face, real-time, peer and mentor-lead, writing space.

2. Join professional music organisations that support songwriters and artists.

In the UK, some of the professional organisations that offer support and career development are:

PRS: the royalty collection societies whose sister organisation, the PRSF, helps fund artists in their professional development:

FAC (Featured Artist Coalition): lobbies on behalf of songwriters and musicians’ rights and runs networking events:

The Ivors Academy run by the British Association of Songwriters and Composers, offers advice on everything from funding opportunities to Artist Development programs:

The Musicians’ Union not only offers members free legal advice (which I have gratefully used) but public liability insurance, training and development assistance, health and wellbeing advise:

3. Be prepared!!! Build a strong online page for your best songwriting demo’s and update it regularly.

Building a website or a Soundcloud page of your latest and best recordings will help build your profile and give you a songwriting goal to work towards. Only post your best audio samples. It takes a few seconds of listening to one of your songs for someone to get an idea of your work. When you meet people who offer songwriting opportunities you need to be ready to go, Go, GO! … you don’t want to miss out by not having a top-shelf demo link to share straight away.

4. Find out who publishes and manages the songwriters that you aspire to be.

Knowledge is power and if you are serious about being a professional songwriter a big piece of the puzzle is finding a manager and/or publisher to help steer you through the noise and chaos of the music industry.

The Music Managers Forum is a good place to start. Once you have an idea of the kind of manager, or publisher, you need you can start the conversation by contacting them with a link to your incredibly well produced Soundcloud demo page. Keep correspondence short and personal, and if they say they don’t have room on their roster ask them for advice, a contact, or recommendations. Keep the conversation going… this is where the resilience and stamina part of the job plays out.

5. Join, or start, a songwriting event.

Open mic nights, songwriters’ circles and local songwriting groups are a wonderful way to connect with artists in your area. If you cannot find one, start one! Choose a relatively quiet evening in your favourite pub and ask the landlord if you can use the room. I started the Stroud Songwriters Circle for this very reason:

Now in our 7th year, Pro7ect songwriting retreats at the world famous Rockfield Studios, is the only residential songwriting retreat in the UK offering music production in the room and an opportunity to collaborate with internationally acclaimed writer/producers.

Pro7ect Headline producers include Stew Jackson (Massive Attack), Youth (Sir Paul McCartney, The Verve, The Orb), Roni Size (Reprazent), John Fortis (Razorlight, Ellie Goulding), Iain Archer (Snow Patrol, James Bay), Andrew Levy (Brand New Heavies) and Mercury Prize Winner Talvin Singh.