Writer #1: I want to write with Katy Perry. Writer #2: I want to write with Katy Perry too. Writer #135: Hey, can you get me a co-write with Katy Perry?!
Now, you could interchange Katy Perry with any key top artist: Drake, Beyonce, Taylor, Kendrick, Halsey, The Chainsmokers, etc. The thing is, even if you’re a professional songwriter you’re probably writer number #87 on the list of potential writing candidates and often anyone outside of the artist’s Top 10 cowriting list … just isn’t going to get a look.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I pitch writers and have lined up artists co-writes all the time. But why should a superstar artist write with YOU (as awesome as you are) when they are already immersed with a team that already works within a context of proven hits?
In other words, why should Taylor Swift write with you rather than say, adding more days with Max Martin. And why would Drake take a day off from writing with Noah “40” Shebib with you?
Obviously, we’re talking superstars here, but it’s the same also for most artists that have some kind of a profile. You see … any artist of merit and fame, usually has already created their camp, have key co-writers already around them and unless you have that hotness, like a song breaking in the Top 5 … I just don’t think there’s often a compelling enough reason to drive a manager or A&R to put you with one of these big artists. They’re taking a risk on you.
So what to do? Enter the song start.
I give this advice all the time, but it’s actually rarely picked up. So, listen up : ) You see, you can be writer #127 on the list of people that a big superstar artist might even consider. But what if - WHAT IF (!) you had a song idea a.k.a. a “song start” that was a S M A S H E R O O N Y. Yes, I just said:
That changes everything. And when I say song start, I’m talking about a finished hit chorus with a hot track, a finished melody but no lyrics, a finished song less a 2nd verse and bridge…you get the idea. But it can’t be just ANY song idea. It has to be Level 10 – OMG this is sounding like a #1 hit type of thing.
If you have that magical start, then you, I, or someone in your camp can probably get it into the orbit of that target artist via an A&R or manager or the artist themselves. And if that song start resonates … (as Tony Robbins would say) …. WHAMMO! Suddenly you’re on deck and on the radar. Not only on the deck, but you’ve essentially flipped the script. Now it’s you who are DELIVERING value and DELIVERING an opportunity, rather than the other way around … (asking for opportunity and conceptually taking value).
And guess what … the risk that the manager or A&R initially had about connecting their star artist with a new writer is mitigated. They know MINIMALLY what they’re going to get out of the session … a song that is at least “circling the hit zone” (Thanks, Keith Naftaly for that “circling the hit zone” phrase, I told you I would steal that).
In this scenario, you help make the A&R person and/or the manager look like a star … and guess what, if this song start is really “all that, ” you’ve just skipped in front of that entire writing queue (relatively speaking).
Keep in mind…every A&R person and manager knows that hits drive everything … touring, merchandising, brand endorsement, and yeah, that royalty thing too … and that’s what everyone is looking for. So, why not deliver a hit start idea and invite some people to YOUR party?!
So rather than throwing some “Hail Mary’s” and asking to take an opportunity … the idea here is to present the opportunity on a silver platter.
So action to take? In your next writing session instead of taking two days to write one song, maybe take two days and write four song starts? At the very least you’ll have these song starts to look back on objectively in the following weeks sessions with the ability to say “yah … that one is the hit … let’s attack that and finish those on our own.”
Song Starts! Yes please … more of those.