Co-Writing Songs in Nashville – The Co-Writing Captial

Co-Writing Songs – Practical Guidelines for Collaborative Songwriting

Tammy Vice Songwriter ArtistFeaturing Special Guest: Tammy Vice
Singer • Songwriter from Nashville, TN

In this session of the Backwoods Recording Studio Podcast Tammy Vice shares her experience and insights co writing songs in Nashville, Tennessee, the co-writing capital of the world .

As a successful songwriter and artist. Tammy has co-authored many successful songs with co-writers.

You can find out more about Tammy and her songwriting career at

More specifically, in this session with Tammy she reveals her best tips and insight into successful song writing with a Co-Writer.

1. Always try to write with songwriters who are as good as or better than you are.
But, make sure they’re not dramatically better or you’ll rely on them all the time. That said, I wouldn’t dismiss someone who might be a diamond in the rough.  I’ve heard some of the freshest ideas from children, through volunteering at the Hall of Fame’s Words and Music program. It’s really helped me grow as a writer.

When working with a less experienced writer I would be clear about the business end first. I know we go into that later. Always come with an idea or two. It may not be what you write, but it will get the juices flowing.

2. Try to find someone with who you get along personally.
You’ll be spending a lot of time together and it’s important that you enjoy the company of each other.  A sense of humor helps a lot!  In some cases a publisher will set up appointments for their writers.  And when this happens it can be like a blind date.

Meeting a new co-writer can be like adding a new spice to an old recipe.  Sometimes it turns out great, and sometimes not so much. The take away is you can learn something from every experience.

3. Take a professional approach to co-writing.
Treat it like you would any other business arrangement. Be on time and establish when the ending time will be, I know you may be friends but also keep a professional approach.

4. Eliminate as many distractions as possible.
Turn off all cell phones! Most importantly –Everyone’s time is important. When you set up a time to be with someone, make sure you’re present.”

5. When meeting with potential co-writers, be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.
For instance, if your main strength is melody writing, you wouldn’t want to link up with another melody writer.  True, my strength is lyrics.  My melodies tend to be simple.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but if I never co-wrote, things would all probably begin to sound alike after a while.

I’m going to refer to food again. The stew is better when a variety of things are added.  Nothing worse than the same old bland meal.

6. Find a co-writer that writes in the same or a similar style to you.
The exception is a desire for you or your co-writer’s part to expand their repertoire.  It’s best to stay with folks with similar tastes to you.  It does help when you’ve got the same idea of what the basic structure should be. Different genres have very different structures.  None are right or wrong, just different and that’s OK.

7. You should look for a co-writer that’s a good listener.
You should also be a good listener and not just thinking about what you have to say.  This is a very important point.  I heard the term “active listening” recently.  We’re so busy and distracted these days, we do have to make a conscious effort to pay attention to what people are saying.

8. Don’t be defensive.
Be sure not to be ‘married’ to any of your ideas.  What may seem brilliant to you may not do it for your partner. Don’t let yourself get offended.

True, the whole point of co-writing is using everyone’s skills to make the song its best.  Some folks are great writers, but not good co-writing partners for this very reason.

Some songs are very personal or address subjects where we have a very strong opinion.  If we want a song that only has our ideas and our point of view about a subject, we shouldn’t torture another writer.  That’s the one to write alone.

9. Establish the royalty split at the beginning.
If you don’t it might come back to haunt you. I usually have an understanding of this verbally. Some prefer a contract but I find that to be awkward especially with new co-writing relationships.

My opinion is that it should be an equal split.  Sometimes I’ve had a lot to contribute to the song, and sometimes I’ve poured the coffee and nodded while the other guy was being brilliant.  But it all happened because we made the appointment and sat down with an idea.

 10. Who sings the song when co-writing?
What’s best for the song?  Who sings the song when co-writing? What’s best for the song?

This can be very touchy when you do not care for their voice or feel it is not right for the song. Communication nourishes enthusiasm and creates strong co-writer bonds.

A business tip;  The co-writing relationship should always be about what will best represent the song when pitching.

Resources Mentioned in This Podcast

Performing rights organizations (PRO) are companies that track and collect your royalties from radio airplay.(performance royalties).

Suggested reading about how to get a song recorded.

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