So, you’re a songwriter, a really good songwriter, and you suddenly realize you aren’t really going anywhere. Why? You haven’t made your way into the “right rooms.” These days, most hit songs are written by teams of people — producers, artists, and songwriters. Back in June, The Associated Press wrote an article, How many songwriters does it take to produce a ‘hit?’ In response to that article, Shelly Peiken spoke frankly about her own experiences in writing by committee in Songwriter’s Pie Anyone?
I took each of these articles to heart. I knew my success would be limited by the talent I collaborated with, or rather the market value of the people I collaborated with. It’s simply the way of the entertainment world. You have to be great and know the right people. Why? Because everyone wants in — the super talented, the marginally talented, the slackers, the go-getters. Reputation gets you in the right rooms. Talent keeps you there.
So, let’s talk about solitude. Every great talent needs solitude. The mixing engineer you hired isn’t going to do all their work in front of you. They need time alone to really hear what’s going on in the tracks. Your top line writer had some alone time with the tracks to come up with those brilliant verse lyrics. Committees shouldn’t be trusted with all the details. About 8:15 into the TED Talk at the top of this page, Susan Cain starts explaining how important introversion is to the creative process. Creatives need time alone to work out details and flesh out the creative spark that inspired them. Songwriters need to come to these writing rooms with ideas they have cultivated in their own, small worlds. These beautiful ideas will be changed and augmented in the larger writing rooms.
Work on your craft in solitude, and accept invitations to the bigger rooms. The more you cultivate in solitude, the more brilliant you will be with your co-writers.