Think of the last time you wrote a record with a band, or developed demos with a songwriting partner. The collaborative spirit and the camaraderie between your songwriting team probably comes to mind. For songwriting relationships to thrive, everyone involved needs to feel heard, understood, and validated. Yet oftentimes, the importance of this creative space is overlooked in music.
Communication and listening
Every creative relationship is completely unique. In fact, some long-term bands will liken their relationship to that of a business partnership, marriage, and friendship. When such deep relationships intermingle and form, resentment can easily creep in. In a creative process, this is especially so when writers don’t feel like their voices are heard or taken seriously.
There is no easy fix for this problem, since every songwriting relationship is different. However, if you view it the same way you would with any other relationship in your life, you’ll be sure to make some progress. Skills such as communication and listening come naturally to some of us, while others may find it challenging. All relationships take work to maintain, and requires more than just showing up and going through the motions. Listening to others and communicating your ideas and needs in a respectful way is not always easy or natural, especially in relationships with years of history and established interpersonal dynamics.
It’s important to reflect on the dynamic of the team. Does a certain person get to speak up more, at the expense of other team members? Perhaps, there’s already a dynamic established that may be hindering active participation from the rest of the team. If everyone in the relationship feels comfortable, then that’s a perfectly healthy way to approach songwriting. However, if certain members are always left feeling frustrated and unheard, then the problem needs to be addressed. By giving every member an equal opportunity to express themselves, more creative potential can be unlocked.
Breaking bad habits
Many partnerships fall into ruts when certain members feel like they’re not being listened to. This is accompanied with a mentality that nothing will change in these situations. Thus, members may tend to withdraw from voicing their opinions, without identifying the problem first. If the expectation is that everyone’s voice matters, then that should be the foremost thought when creating music together. Encourage certain people to speak up and share their opinions, while gently nudging others to listen and learn how to take a step back. It may feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar at first, but it’s a worthy endeavor. Give it a shot to breathe life into an uninspired songwriting project, and bridge stronger and healthier relationships.