No musician is an Island!
I was recently listening to the Music Business Weekly Podcast (ep. 381). It featured an interview with famed producer/writer/musician Stuart Epps. The entire interview was quite entertaining but also thought-provoking on several levels. One of the things Epps mentioned was how valuable collaboration is to musicians. I think that it is often overlooked, especially by the developing singer-songwriters today.
Let’s face it,one of the greatest things in the world for a musician is to share the magic of music with others. To sing, play, write and even listen to music with others is one of life’s greatest's gifts. It is almost spiritual at some level. However, many musicians are secluding themselves in basements and bedrooms toiling on their newest songs all by themselves. Isolated, many are stuck with limited choices about how to sing a phrase, write a chord progression or develop a harmony.
Let’s think about some of the greats in music and consider where they might have been without their collaborators Do Gerry Coffin and Carole King ever write those hits without the other? Does King's Tapestry turn into a legendary album without the lessons she learned along the way with her partner? The musical partnerships list could go on and on.(Simon and Garfunkel, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein…) But let’s look at a bigger collaboration that many songwriters are skipping past. The idea of writing with and working with an entire band, instead of as a solo act.
Epps talked about how he doesn’t see or hear anything about “bands” in the true sense of the word anymore. Instead his inbox is full of requests from solo artists looking for guidance on completing their individual songs and projects. These artists are missing valuable opportunities to grow as musicians and to enjoy the ride.
Collaboration, and more specifically, collaboration in a band is important because it brings different frames of reference to bear on every musical choice. A 5 piece band brings 5 different points of views and approaches to something even as simple as a 12 bar blues pattern. Those different approaches lead new discoveries! What else could a musician ask for than that?
So how can you broaden your musical horizons and collaborate right away? My first suggestion would be to join a songwriting organization ex. https://songwriters-circle.com/ or http://newyorksongwriterscollective.com/ These are just a few. Most areas have something similar. Another option is by using social media for meetings and groups. Facebook and MeetUp can be a great help with this. Lastly, you already know people you respect as musicians, ask them! They will probably say yes, and if they don’t that’s alright too. You can always use their rejection as a topic for a new song!
Here’s to making musical connections and finding inspiration through others!