The benefits of collaborative worship songwriting
Collaborative worship songwriting is an incredible resource for the local church. In the ministry I serve in, we’re connecting Christian songwriters and worship leaders across our community to write and share songs of prayer for our city. We’re continuing to discover that unity and collaboration is challenging work. It’s much easier and faster to move forward alone than it is to move forward with others. But our impact is far greater when we advance together. It’s hard to find a better example of that than songwriting. We write much better music when we write together. One quick glance at the songwriting credits on the Billboard Top 40 is all the evidence we need to come to this conclusion. Every song cites multiple songwriters, often including four to five people.
I’ve attended many songwriting workshops over the years and the most common advice, shared over and over again, is to collaborate – write music with others. Many agree that collaborative worship songwriting is the way to go. We write better music with others than we do by ourselves. The idea of collaboration has caused networking to become the most valuable commodity in the music communities of Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, and London – even more valuable than pure talent. People are clamoring for opportunities to connect with others in songwriting. Here’s the great news, if collaboration is a vital ingredient for writing great music, we have a huge advantage in the Body of Christ! We were purposed for community. We were purposed for connection. We were purposed for unity. We are bound by the network of the Family of God, brothers and sister in Christ. We have the strongest networking potential on planet earth. And we share the greatest reason to write good music. It’s the driving force for our work in Tucson as we make the effort to collaborate with others in writing and sharing songs of prayer for our city. And here’s what we’re learning:
Resolve in your heart to not do this alone
You may already have 10-15 songs developed that you’re convinced will set the world on fire, but rather than charging forward into the studio with your musical masterpieces, choose to hold on to your songs with open hands and release your individual ambitions to the Lord. It’s good to free yourself from the burden of making the best music by yourself.
Have you ever considered that God might be rooting for you to create incredible music, too? If God desires for you to write your best music, and collaboration is the key, it’s safe to assume that God has an invested interest in who you write with. He also has a perfect understanding of the people who will work best together. Ask God to lead you to the right people.
Assemble your team
In our experience, the ideal size for a songwriting team is somewhere in the three to five person range. It’s a good idea to meet on a weekly basis for at least an hour. Creativity builds on creativity. If there’s too much distance between meeting times, the creative process slows down considerably. It’s important that everyone comes prepared to bring something to the table. It could be something as simple as a melody, a chord progression, a revision on a song you’re all working on, etc.
Don’t be too precious with your ideas
There will be moments you will come to the team with a song you’re convinced is going to make all of their socks sweat (in a good way) only to be received with an awkward exchange of, “how do we put this to him gently without crushing him?” It happens to everyone. There will be other moments when you will sheepishly introduce a new idea, which you’re totally convinced will be universally rejected, but will unexpectedly brighten some eyes and energize the room with its potential.
Don’t give up!
Writing music with others is a very vulnerable process that takes a lot of time and energy. It’s especially challenging when you’re allowing others to alter and dissect the very outpouring of your soul – the fertile fruit of your creative womb. If collaboration were easy, everyone would be doing it!
Seriously. Send me an email. I’ve learned a lot about collaborative worship songwriting and I’d love to learn some things from you, too.