I had a great songwriting session yesterday. I’ve been trying to cowrite more songs lately, and it’s been such a cool experience.

Yesterday’s session was with my buddy Daniel. It was the first time we’d written together. It was so fun to experience how he writes. Daniel has a publishing deal. He’s written hundreds of songs in the last couple years alone.

There are two common (and surprising) themes to all the songs he’s written.

Thing #1 — He never writes alone.

While there may be a handful of songs he’s written by himself, the overwhelming majority of his songs are cowrites.

Thing #2 — Gone are the days of guitar/vocal demos.

You used to hear stories of Nashville songwriters and “work tapes.” They would walk into a meeting with an A&R rep and play a few cassette recordings of their latest songs. Simple, sloppy guitar/vocal demos.

Daniel told me that almost every song that comes out of a cowriting session gets produced pretty heavily. These guys have gotten really good at quickly building full-production demos in their DAWs. Lots of programming. Lots of quick mixing and working efficiently. It’s these fully-produced “demos” that they then pitch to artists and labels.

Super interesting, right? And it totally makes sense.

Our songwriting session went well. We wrote probably a solid 60% of a song. Instead of just sitting down with a piece of paper and guitars, we came up with a cool groove, then recorded it as a loop into Studio One. We listened to it over and over until we wrote a verse. After recording a vocal for the verse, we wrote the chorus. And around we went.

It was a super fun and creative process.

I learned a couple lessons from that session:

Lesson #1 — I need to change things up. Doing the same old thing tends to yield the same old results.

Lesson #2 — Life is so much more interesting when I check my ego at the door and open myself up to learning from other people. The most successful people I know aren’t too proud to ask questions, ask for help, and try new things.

Lesson #3 — Honesty is so refreshing. Daniel and I are able to say to each another, “Yeah that line sucks.” We acknowledge it and move on. No hurt feelings. No weirdness. We’re just two miners digging around for a good song.

I hope my little adventure in songwriting gives you some ideas on how you can expand your creative horizons and do something fun, new, and exciting!

Joe Gilder
Home Studio Corner

P.S. Did you see the latest episode of GilderCam I posted yesterday? It’s fun to be back in the saddle again.