How to Write Songs With a Band, and Not Break Up?

Band animated imageWe have all heard the stories about famous bands writing songs together. Creating great music with friends can be almost like having a second family. But the truth of the matter is that writing songs with an entire band is a very rare situation. Even when all the names of band members are listed as co-writers, it is usually just one or two who did the majority of the writing.

What commonly occurs when attempting to write with a band is that too many people sit around doing nothing, while one or two work out song ideas. This often ends up wasting precious rehearsal time.

A better way is for band members to write individually, or pair-up for writing in twos, or threes at the most. This way, you can easily switch around writing partners, and everyone will be bringing completed songs to rehearsal so that no time will be wasted.

It is always a good idea to give the other band members a recording of the song to learn a head of time. There is nothing more tedious than having to teach band members every part of a song in a group setting, when they could have easily come prepared.

If during rehearsal other band members contribute to the completed song in a significant way, and their new parts or editing ideas take the song to a whole new level, always add them to the credits as co-writers.

Be aware that some writing partners will like to stick together, and other just won’t click so well. This can be very similar to dating, so don’t let jealousy or other emotions interfere with developing great songs for the group. You are part of a team; BE A TEAM PLAYER, all good songs benefit you and the whole team. Think of it Like a Business and be professional. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, but definitely do let those emotions flow into the writing.

Also, realize that some players won’t have a knack for writing at all, and that is ok. Many players will not even want to writers.

Additionally, sometimes drummers or bass players will learn to hack out chords on the guitar or keyboard and sing, to get more involved with the writing process. Overlook their inadequacies on a new instrument, listen to the quality of the song despite a most likely mediocre performance, and help them with the performance aspect, and possible co-writing of their songs. They might have a brilliant musical mind underneath that lack of experience on songwriting instruments, and they could add tremendously to the group if given a chance.

The descriptions above are how most band writing situations work, rather than everyone writing together in the same room. When I realized this it COMPLETELY DE-MYSTIFIED band songwriting for me, and eliminated the STRUGGLE AND ENDLESS SEARCH of trying to find the Ultimate Brotherhood Writing Team in a band.

There is no magic lineup, just go with what you’ve got and take it as far as you can. If you find a miracle songwriting partnership along the way, like Lennon and McCartney did, then the heavens have truly opened up for you. But don’t depend on it, just do the work and manage the songwriting relationships that befall you like a professional.


What Has Been your Experience

Writing Songs With Others?

Please Share Below



  • Paul Race

    Generally, the only “collaboration” I’ve done is when I’ve helped out a friend who has “written himself into a corner,” adding a fresh metaphor, a turn of phrase, an unexpected rhyme, etc. But it was a case of him getting stuck and coming to me and me helping him get “unstuck,” more than us working together on a project. Once I wrote a bridge I like so much I refused to let him use it and used it myself later on. I said, “this is what your bridge should do for the reader when you get around to writing it.” He wasn’t amused. 🙂 But the “sitting around brainstorming productively,” or writing every other line, etc., has eluded me – don’t feel bad if it eludes you.

  • Myrna Riquier

    I am also writing with someone who give me great ideas and I put them into story form. Would you like to try writing with her? She will definitely remind you a lot of your former co-writer.

    • eldon

      Thanx for the invite Myrna. What genre do you both work in? Although I believe that good prose/rhyme can be put to any beat if the musician playing is good. Which I am not able to do so. Also, what part of the world is she located in, and does she give any background to what brought up the inspiration for her… Eldon

  • eldon

    I had been writing with a good friend a while back. I was excited about the possibilities. He would give me a few catchy lines and let me go with the imagination for the rest. But that combo quit when he got involved with the love of his life and forthcoming marriage. We do not get together any more. I regret that and miss that. But, maybe he was just tired of me…

    • Kevin Thomas

      Eldon, that is really common, I would not take it personally. A couple weeks ago a new bass player I had been working with that sounded really good with one of my bands abruptly quit because his wife was concerned that was in too many projects and not spending enough time at home. My first thought was “maybe he just doesn’t like me, my songs, my playing, my…” which I think is a normal instinctual reaction. But I quickly snapped myself out of being self-conscious, realized that it would be kind of arrogant of me to assume that I am the center of his concerns, and I started putting out ads for a replacement.

      What may seem like a failure at first can be quickly turned into a success by focusing on the experience gained as a building block for an even more successful next venture.



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