This article was originally published on Soundfly and is being shared as part of Songwriting Week! Join the conversation on social media (#SongwritingWeek) for even more tips, articles, and resources.
So many musicians and songwriters stress the importance of collaboration. But without knowing how collaboration could benefit your work, why would you share an idea you’ve spent countless hours thinking about, only to open yourself up to criticism? As it turns out, all those advice-givers really are on to something — collaboration can tease out new ideas you hadn’t considered before, help you get past roadblocks, and even validate your idea. Here are five reasons why collaboration is one of the most helpful things you can do to improve your art.
1. Collaboration forces you to articulate your ideas to other people.
One of the most difficult parts of being an artist is clearly explaining your ideas so that other people understand them. You may know exactly what you’re trying to tell the audience with that story about your break-up, but the audience may have no idea what you’re referring to. When you talk your ideas out with other people, you can explain the thinking behind them and collectively come up with the clearest way to articulate the idea to others. (And if you need further help developing your ideas, consider signing up for our new songwriting course!)
2. It helps you play to your strengths and accept your weaknesses.
In order to collaborate with other people, you must first understand what your personal strengths and weaknesses are. If you claim to be a world-renowned MC, but you can’t keep a steady rhythm for your life, your project is going to fall apart. If you are up-front about your out-of-whack rhythm skills, you can find a drummer or beatboxer who can improve your project. Bring to the table what you know you’re good at and find a friend who can compliment your weaknesses.
3. It reminds you that your project is part of something bigger.
It can be easy to forget that one section of a song you’re working on is part of a much larger work when you concentrate on it for so long. Working with other people helps you remember that what you’re working on is combined with many other parts to create something wonderful. Check in every once and a while with your fellow collaborators and see where they are in their part of the project. It can inspire you in new ways and help you remember why you’re working so hard on your section. Although everyone is working on something different, having collaborators helps remind you that everyone is working towards one larger goal.
4. You have real deadlines to hit.
When we’re working on something that is only for ourselves, it’s easy to get lost in procrastination. We are only letting ourselves down in these situations, so without a ton of self-drive, a lot of these projects are never completed. When we work with other people, there is a greater sense of deadlines because missing them impacts everyone. If the group sets up a timeline for the project, it will be easier to keep track of deadlines and make sure the project is completed in a timely manner.
5. It’s an easy way to gain fans!!
One of the best benefits of working with other musicians is that you’re opened up to a whole new set of fans! If your sound is similar to, but with a unique spin on the work of the person you’re collaborating with, you’re sure to open up the door to many fans coming your way. People are always looking for new music, and what better way than to find it through their favorite artists?! Even if your acts are completely different, you’ll get your music in front of an audience you never would have found before, and you can bet that fans respect artists that their favorite musicians are into! Sharing fan bases makes for easier collaboration on songs, shows, and many other aspects of your musical career.
We are all still learning as musicians, and what better way than to learn from each other? Collaboration exercises your brain while producing tremendous work. And if it doesn’t work out? Learn from your mistakes this time and try again. Everyone works differently, and before long you’ll find the right type of collaborators for you.