How to Effectively Make Music with a Team
Working on a team can be rewarding…
It can also be difficult, unorganized, and even uncomfortable at times. This is especially true when you are working with other creative people who all have valid ideas that can clash.
This could come in the form of producing a track with an artist or, in my usual case, songwriting and arranging collaboratively.
Today, we will talk about the DOs and DON’Ts of collaborative songwriting and what you should expect as you start working creatively with others.
Why We Need Teamwork
Teamwork is necessary because it expands all possibilities. When I say all possibilities, I mean everything you never could have thought of on your own. For example, recently, I finished up a project where I was in charge of the arranging and production for a singer-songwriter duo.
The project came out fantastic, but that was not without its ups and downs. I remember vividly seeing the song being done in a more ballad guitar band style with drums, and they wanted to hear what it sounded like. It was bad, and then we tried out one of their ideas, more upbeat in the style of ABBA. That was also not quite it, so it was back to the drawing board.
Finally, one of the writers sent me a reference recording. It was Eleanor Rigby, from the Beatles and everything clicked. I got on writing out string parts with some influenced string rhythms from Eleanore Rigby, and just like that… everything snapped into place.
Without collaboration, this song could never have met its full potential. It was necessary for the strings, or else they would have been written or recorded. Without the lyricist, no lyrics. Without the other songwriter, no chord progression and no direction.
Don’t Give Up
At the beginning of that project, it was easy to feel defeated. The people I was working with were wonderful and made a fantastic team, but that does not relieve the feeling that I could not solve the puzzle.
Tip one to succeed when working on a team is not to give up. It sounds a little cheesy, but not every project is a walk in the park. Some take as much problem solving as they do artistic choices.
You are not always right
This tip is tough because it is less about looking down on others, and more about being overconfident.
Confidence in creativity and teamwork is a fragile balance between taking the initiative and letting others take control. Good confidence looks a certain way too.
Good confidence means that you are willing to make a case for yourself, but also for others. If you are confident in your own ability, it is easy to accept others’ suggestions because it no longer feels like a competition.
Making music together is not a competition
Whether you are writing a song together, performing a concert, or even auditioning against each other, music is about making art for others. Of course, we as artists need to benefit from it to keep doing it, but money is not the source of what we do.
Stay humble, appreciate and cheer on others doing the same as you, and you will be rewarded.
The more I grow as a songwriter and arranger, the more I see the necessity to be able to truly talk to one another.
If you are interested in hearing more about experiences working on professional teams and what to expect, leave a comment.
Also, look out for my next couple of posts about beginner music theory to help you advance your songwriting.
Hi, I’m Cj Rhen, and I am a composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. You can find some of my work at cjrhenmusic.com or on sounds.com, where I write and record high-end sax and horn loops for your music. Also, you can check out my live streams at twitch.tv/cjrhenmusic to see me writing music like this post live and ask questions and chat.