Music collaboration – how to work on songs together (video)

Image Credit: Spotify

What’s the best way to write songs with collaborators? Learn how songwriters and producers work together, with advice from Charli XCX and Spotify for Artists.

As part of Spotify for Artist’s Song Start series, featuring tips for new producers and artists, songwriters Charli XCX and Tove Lo provided some key advice about music collaboration. When music artists join forces in songwriting sessions, beautiful things can happen.

Music collaboration can spark some of the best songwriting results for everyone involved. There are do’s and don’ts to songwriting sessions, though, to make sure you’re working well together and getting the most creatively from each other.

We’ve picked a few of the best tips from the Spotify for Artists video to help you work better with other musicians and producers, and ensure happy and productive studio time for all.


Opposites attract

Your collaboration partners don’t necessarily have to echo your process. Tove Lo and Charli XCX agree that their songwriting processes are very different but somehow that seems to help the results when they sit down to collaborate.

Don’t write off a potential collaborator because they have a different writing style or enjoy different music genres. When you push each other’s boundaries you’ll inspire each other to go in a new direction you’d never considered – or want to make your idea the best, work harder, and end up with a better song as a result.


What do you do if you don’t like your collaborator’s idea?

Be constructive. Think of ways to soften the blow.

Charli XCX said when she doesn’t agree with an idea in the studio she says “I really love that but… what if we just add this little bit…” before sneakily changing the song slightly, and subsequently pointing out how much better the idea now sounds!


Let go of your ego

Your idea might not be the only great one being suggested in the studio, so knowing when to let go is an important skill. Know when to push your agenda and when to step back and listen to your collaborator.

Don’t assume you’re the hero of the track! So you’re convinced you have a great chord sequence or lyric, and push hard for it to be included – but make sure to strike a balance so you don’t end up steamrollering over the other songwriters.


Read the room

So much depends on how well you know your collaborators. When your songwriting partner is someone you’re close to, it’s of course far easier to say when you don’t like how something sounds – but even so, be respectful whilst objecting.

If you’re working with a new musician, make sure they feel comfortable and you listen to what they want rather than assuming that you know best. You’ll grow closer to them by being truthful about what you think works and what doesn’t.


Build up your songwriting collaborators, don’t shoot them down

Pay attention to your collaborator! Really listen to what the other people you’re working with are bringing to the table, don’t impatiently wait for it to be your turn to present your ideas.

If you love something, say so. There’ll be more likely to give you positive comments that will build up your confidence, too.


How to give notes to a producer

When songwriters are working with a producer, referencing other songs is a good way of explaining exactly what effect you’d like them to go for. Charli XCX also suggests using descriptive words – for example, she often asks producers “can you make that sound colder.”

Always trust the producer. Give them some space to work on the track without interrupting to try and steer the song in a certain direction.


You can find more Song Start videos on the Spotify for Artists YouTube channel. Head here learn how to begin your music production journey, and explore song structure here.

We’ve also gathered some tools for online music collaboration. Or perhaps you’d like to learn more about the history of music collaboration and how embracing it could benefit your songwriting:


When you release your songs with RouteNote distribution, we make it super-easy to split royalties between collaborators with free Revenue Sharing. Once you’ve recorded your tracks, head to routenote.com to see how we can help you get your music online, for free!

I write about music for RouteNote, sharing fun stuff, news, and tips and tricks for musicians and producers. Also a saxophonist and hater of marmalade.

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