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Pro7ect founder on collaboration and how to improve your songwriting skills

Songwriter, producer and founder of Pro7ect, which specialises in songwriting retreats and putting songwriters ‘in the room’ with some of the best music creators in the business, tells Headliner in her own words about the power of collaboration and the vast benefits the organisation’s sessions can offer…

I was a solitary songwriter for nearly 20 years, and it became a lonely game. It had served me well as a 20-something artist flying on a wing and prayer on a global, magical musical adventure. Solo songwriting helped me process all the emotional baggage, the lifestyle decisions, the risks, and sacrifices, loves and losses, and the many highs and lows that came with the choices I made to sustain my artistic life.

Then I started to feel like I was writing the same song over and over again.

I began to crave creative interaction. I wanted to learn how to share the raw intimacy and vulnerability of this songwriting game that I’d gambled on for so many years. I wanted to write songs for other artists and build future work and income opportunities outside my niche. I wanted to write with songwriters better than me, to lift my game and learn new skills and techniques.

But how? Who with? Where do I meet these songwriting collaborators? Will it be a waste of my time and resources? Am I good enough? So many questions, doubts, and fears.

It’s easy for high-profile, established songwriters to say that we are better working together, but how does a jobbing songwriter break into these professional collaborative writing sessions?

I knew I had to step outside of my comfort zone.

I approached this challenge like a research project, dedicating a day a week, at first, to my ‘Collaboration Navigation’ mission. I contacted other writer/producers via LinkedIn and collaborated remotely with music programmers, all with mixed success. I even went on a speed dating songwriting network event resulting in a collaborative project called ‘The Standing’ that went on to release the single with Creative Nation called “Inside Me”:

I joined professional music organisations and endured tedious industry networking events, all just re-affirming my notion that this ‘collaborative writing world’ I wanted so desperately to be a part of was a tight-knit, closed community, and a difficult nut to crack.

And then, I discovered songwriting retreats.

Working with top producers and artists opens the door to a level I’d always aspired to. Paul Edwards, Pro7ect alumni (singer/songwriter/producer)

This EUREKA moment totally changed the direction of my life and my craft. It was a crash-course on coping with the nuances of songwriting teamwork.

At my very first retreat, every writing session was totally different. The other songwriters were a mixed bag of genres and experience, and I felt connected, overwhelmed, inspired, and excited all at the same time. I realised that the creative flow of collaborative songwriting was a very powerful thing. It blew my mind!

I learnt so much from the other writers, my confidence grew, and I realised that I not only wanted to collaborate more, but that I was good at it.

I started looking for songwriting retreats that included music production, replicating the way that most professional writing sessions operate today. As a writer/producer I began to think that the retreats I was doing were a wasted opportunity without production in the room. Writing a song in your bedroom is one thing… collaborating with production is a totally different skillset, especially when you are working with the producers of Massive Attack or Ellie Goulding.

If you can leave the session with a quality recording of the song written that day, an opportunity to continue the collaboration in post-production, and even go on to release the song written at the retreat… now that made sense to me. But no-one was doing it. So, I decided I would.

Now in our seventh 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.

P7 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, just to name a few. So far, we’ve had 18 releases & 4 sync’s from songs written at Pro7ect retreats, as well as numerous collaborations and professional opportunities via the P7 Alumni artists community.

I look forward to sharing with you in this monthly column songwriting and music production experiences, advise, tips and insider secrets that I’ve discovered along my Pro7ect Collaboration Navigation adventure.

Pro7ect Session Notes is an insider’s guide to real life songwriting, collaboration, and music production experiences from Pro7ect Songwriting Retreats Creative Director Lisa Fitzgibbon.

Links to media mentioned in this blog:

Inside me by The Standing:

For more information and to apply for Pro7ect songwriting retreats and Masterclasses:

For exclusive Headliner reader discounts on Pro7ect songwriting events put ‘Headliner’ in the “How did you hear about Pro7ect” question on your application: