Look at the credits for a song and you most likely see more than one
name. Having multiple writers, artists, producers, and engineers is not unusual
in navigating the path from creation to realization.. The music business, like any entertainment industry, is a
business based on people interacting to shape and market the products of a creative
WHAT IS COLLABORATION?
Collaboration literally means “working
together”. Any time two or more people combine their efforts toward a common
goal, they are collaborating.
This happens at all phases in the life of a song – writing, revising,
arranging, performing , recording, and marketing. No one person is likely to do all of these things with great
success. Collaboration is
most often mentioned in terms of creating the music and lyrics of a song, but
any time a writer interacts in a mutual way with an artist, arranger, studio engineer, agent, etc. collaboration is
occurring. It is
important not to confuse the process of collaboration with the form of the agreement governing that
When multiple people contribute to any
part of marketable property, some
kind of understanding is necessary as to how credit and payments are to be
shared. If you simply hire someone to record your song, arrange it, or market
it, you typically negotiate a fee-for–service. This means that the person you
hire has no ownership interest in the actual copyright. However, your interaction with that
person can certainly be collaborative in nature if involves mutual input. When you work together with a studio
engineer and a vocalist to record your song, you are collaborating with them
even though they may typically receive a one-time flat fee and they have no
claim of ownership on the song. If
you wish, you could alternatively give some portion of ownership in lieu of a
Whatever arrangement you make, be sure to put it in writing before you actually start working together.
In the actual writing of a song, all
the contributors have an ownership in the copyright, but if a creator agrees to
exchange his or her interest for an up-front payment, there is nothing wrong
with that. Thus, the nature of a
collaborative interaction may be governed by whatever business terms the
parties agree to. The important
things are to be sure that
• all parties feel fairly treated
• the value of their contribution is
adequately recognized and compensated
• agreements are written down in clear
and precise language, at the start of the process
WHERE DO I
FIND A COLLOBORATOR?
• Songwriter Associations
• Songwriter conferences and workshops
• Trade magazines and newsletters
• Internet forums
• Local music stores
• Local performance venues
Geography need not be a factor. Collaboration can occur by phone, fax, mail, or e-mail.
However, when it comes to resolving the inevitable differences of
opinion, there is no
substitute for face-to-face interaction. If you are working over the Internet, Skype is very
useful for video conferencing
THE HUMAN FACTORS
In addition to the business side of
collaborating, there is the all-important human side. The process of
collaboration can go a long way toward enhancing your creative output, but it
also can be a source of great stress and
frustration. How can
you attune yourself to spot potential collaborators who will raise the quality
of your creative endeavors, while avoiding partnerships that will simply raise
your blood pressure? Just because
a person has a proven track record, does that mean they are a good collaborator for you? Can a person who has never had a song
published be the catalyst you need to write the next chart-topper? Bands are by nature,
collaborative units. Bands
tend to break up or be held back because of human
interaction issues probably more than for any other reason.
There are several aspects to
achieving success in the human aspects of collaboration
respect for different views and approaches
Before entering into a collaboration
agreement with someone, be absolutely sure that you both are working toward the
same goals. If you want a commercial
hit while your partner wants a self-expressive classical symphony, it is going
to be difficult to have a satisfactory final product. You may not want to formally collaborate with someone who is
heading in a different direction than you are, but be aware
that talking and bouncing ideas off someone who is of a different mindset can give you new ideas as well. Differentiate between a collaborative
partner and people who are good sources of creative inspiration.
Collaboration causes the least friction
when the strengths of each participant are complementary, i.e., each
contributes something that the others cannot. If you are only a lyricist, you need a composer. If you can write and play but not sing,
you need a vocalist. If you can write and perform but are not technologically
adept, you need an engineer. Those
are obvious pairings, but can two people with the same skills work
together? The answer is yes,
if they approach their craft from different perspectives, and if each sees the
different view as a source of new ideas rather than as an obstacle. In short, it’s a matter of
understanding and respecting the differences between people, which of course
People are obviously quite complex,
but based on decades of extensive research, there are four dimensions which, when taken in their various
combinations, explain a wide range
of human interaction. This
is the basis of the MBTI (Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator), the most widely used profiling tool in the world, explaining
people's preferences for giving and receiving information.
These four aspects of
personality have profound effect on how we relate to people and to the world
around us, both as a giver and receiver of communications and actions. For people who communicate through
songwriting and/or performing, who give or receive critique, and who interact
with the business aspects of music, these dimensions play a crucial role.
In each of the four areas
shown below, people have a natural preference for being on one side or the
other, much like being left-handed or right-handed. Neither is “better” than the other – they are just
different. Many situations in life
require acting in a manner that is opposite to our natural preference. The stronger the preference is for one
style over the other, the more effort it takes to act the other way, and
sometimes it is just not possible, despite our best effort.
The four dimensions,
represented by pairs of letters, are:
How we focus our energy:
E= Extravert (75% of the population)
of the population)
What we pay attention to:
Sensor (70% of the population)
N=intuitive (30% of the population)
make our decisions:
Thinking (50% of males, 40% of
Feeling (50% of
males, 60% of females)
How flexibly we respond to new information
and organize our lives:
J = Judging (50% of the population)
Perceiving (50% of the population)
Thus, a person’s preference profile can be represented by four
letters, one from each area. There
are sixteen combinations in all.
This does not mean there are only sixteen types of people. Two folks with the same four
preferences can be very different if one person expresses some of them very
strongly, and another person doesn’t.
Also affecting expression in different people are a person’s individual
upbringing, values, and experiences.
People sometimes doubt the accuracy and importance of these four areas,
but as you read the brief descriptions below, think of how many people you
know, including yourself, who are reflected by them.
The Extravert/Introvert choice (E/I)
Extravert: - Outward
focus; Speaks first, thinks after;
Action oriented; Seeks social
interaction to re-energize self;
At ease in crowds and social gatherings; Does not typically reflect inwardly; Talks loudly; Deals with conflicts openly; Emphasizes breadth; Many broad acquaintances;
- Inner focus; Thinks before speaking or acting; Social interaction is draining; Recharges self by turning inward; May seem shy;
Reflective, has an ‘inner voice’;
Speaks softly; Deals with
conflict privately; Emphasizes
depth; Fewer, deeper
The Sensor/Intuitive choice (S/N)
Sensor: - Pays attention to details; Focus on trees instead of forests; Deals with concrete, specific, down-to-earth things; Precise, "It’s 6:27pm"; Information coming through senses is taken at face
value; Language (lyrics) is
literal; Follows instructions, recipes, formulas. Likes what’s real. Lives in the present; Communicates in concrete, sensory
iNtuitive: - Pays attention to the big picture; Focus on forests instead of trees;
Deals with abstract ideas and concepts;
Approximate, "It’s almost 6:30"; Information coming through senses is associated
with other information to make new ideas (What if...?); Language (lyrics) is figurative; Creates own instructions, recipes,
formulas; Likes what’s
possible; Looks to the future; Communicates in abstract,
The Thinker/Feeler choice (T/F)
- Makes decisions based on
logic; Evaluates things rationally; Objective; What’s just is fair;
Words and actions are measured;
Must have good objective reason for doing something; Rules and Laws before
circumstances; "What do you
think about this?";
Detached; Critiques things;
- Logic is optional; Evaluates things based on how people
will feel; Subjective; What’s humane is fair; Words and actions show emotion. Will do things if they create good or
happy feelings ;
Circumstances before rules and laws; "How do you feel about this?"; Involved; Appreciates things;
The Judger/Perceiver choice (J/P)
- Likes planning, and
scheduling; Pending things must
get resolved; Does things
sequentially, one task at a
time; Makes lists and sticks to
them; Draws conclusions, makes decisions, takes action based on
available information; Harder to
change direction once decided;
Needs order, bothered by things out of place;
Things are filed in order;
Accurate sense of time, knows
when an hour has gone by;
Punctual; Stays focused;
- Likes spontaneity; Likes to
leave things ‘open-ended’;
Does many things at once,
bouncing between them; Makes lists
and loses them or changes them;
Delays drawing conclusions, making decisions, or taking action because
new information might change things;
Can change direction easily;
Not bothered by disorder, or randomness; Things are piled, apparently randomly; Elastic sense of time..."You mean
it’s that late already?";
It’s no surprise that people
with different preferences may have difficulty dealing with each other. Introverts often say
extraverts talk too much, are draining, and don’t mind their own business. Extraverts often say introverts are
uncommunicative, unsociable, or just plain strange.
Sensors may say iNtuitives
are impractical and have their head in the clouds. Intuitives may say Sensors are boring, hung up on trivia, full of ‘small
talk’, and have no vision. The S/N
difference can drive a great wedge between people... how can they communicate
if they don’t see the same things to begin with, yet both are right in what
Feelers can view Thinkers as
cold, distant, aloof and uncaring.
Thinkers can view Feelers as irrational, illogical, emotional, inconsistent, and trying
hopelessly to please everybody.
For Judgers and Perceivers,
just think of The Odd Couple, Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar.
Before being too quick to criticize
someone who is your opposite, keep in mind that if they are weak in an area
where you are strong, then they are strong in an area where you are weak. For example, all “ J” and no “P”
is a ship with a charted course but no wind in the sails. All “P” and no “J” is a ship at full
sail with no rudder. It takes
parts of all eight facets to write
good songs and market them to an audience.
• Introversion provides the internal reflection that
allows ideas to form and
a song to be born.
• Extraversion provides the drive to share that song
with others and the desire to want others to relate to it
• Sensing provides
information about the world that gives concrete subject matter for songs; Provides detail
that makes a lyric accessible to the senses.
creative association for presenting a topic in a new and fresh way, for giving a lyric depth of meaning,
and for providing a coherent overarching metaphor. Intuition is a wellspring of the creative process for
• Feeling provides
the emotion that is a centerpiece of most lyrics and is a universal form of expression, despite its subjective imprecision.
• Thinking provides
the analysis and crafting needed to give polish and impact to song. It lends precision for changing expression
provides the desire for structure and
order in the song, and the drive to get it done.
• Perception provides
the openness to new ideas and the ability to change and rewrite as better words
and phrases come along.
person do all eight things effectively? We inevitably do four of them better
than the other four, and usually one of those emerges as our primary strength.
It usually requires collaboration
to effectively cover all the bases.
Preference Profiles and Pairing Up:
When all four dimensions are
taken together, a person’s
preference profile can be represented by four letters, one from each area. For each of the sixteen combinations of
preferences, there is a quintessential persona associated with it, as the four
dimensions act together. Any of the sixteen types can successfully enter any
profession, however there is a correlation between a person’s approach to life
and the demands of certain professions. Let’s look at some combinations that are relevant to a
business driven by creative and performing artists:
is the quintessential scientist.
A person of this type is driven to know why things are, and lives
to shape abstract ideas, symbols, and concepts (including words and metaphors). This does not mean that an INTJ must become a professional chemist or
physicist --It just means that all aspects of his or her pursuits will be
conceptually, and inventively, always seeking innovation. This is not a matter of good,
bad, right or wrong. It is simply
how this kind of person is wired inside.
The opposite profile, ESFP is a
quintessential entertainer. An
ESFP is always ‘on stage’, no matter what he or she is doing. Performing is as natural as breathing. ESFP’s live for each moment, squeezing
all they can from it. Stage
and screen careers are natural magnets for these folks as they exude energy (E), are down-to-earth (S), are spontaneous (P), and show their feelings (F). Billy Joel’s hit “Big Shot” is a
perfect portrait of an ESFP.
Looking at another opposite pair,
ESTJ and INFP, ask yourself “what
are the key qualities for a successful business manager?” Interacting with others, focus on
practical, ‘real’ issues, quick and objective decision-making, and a preference
for order, scheduling, planning, and closure. It is no coincidence that more
than half of business managers are TJ’s, with ESTJ’s being the quintessential “administrators
of life”. If you are
an introverted writer, an ESTJ is a great partner if you need someone to pitch
a song and negotiate on your behalf.
The INFP preference
represents the quintessential idealist.
These folks are always committed to a noble cause, and to performing
service to aid society. A
hallmark of the INFP is to reflect endlessly on the all-important question “Who
am I”? (e.g., Am I an artist?, Am
I a writer? Am I a parent? Am I a lover? I am all of these, but
what does that mean? Who am I?) .INFP’s, well represented on stage and screen,
also are natural wordsmiths, writing in many fields. Think of how many song lyrics are based on the
question “Who am I?”
None of these profiles is “good” or
“bad” or “better” or “worse” than any other. They are simply different. The
music business thrives only through the interaction and cooperation of writers,
performers, engineers, managers,
businessmen, lawyers, agents,
producers, promoters, roadies, consumers, etc. The key to successful collaboration is understanding
and respecting the differences between people, and seeing those differences as
positive rather than negative.
Each of the sixteen profiles has very specific
gifts and strengths which lead them into certain areas of endeavor where
success flows from those strengths.
Just as INFP idealists
cannot turn off their need to champion a cause, whether good ones or
misguided ones, the ESTJ
corporate managers cannot turn off
their need to make decisions -- .good ones and misguided ones. Just as an INTJ scientist cannot
turn off their need to discover things -- some memorable and some forgettable
-- the ESFP entertainer cannot turn off their
need to give performances -- some memorable and some forgettable.
Interactions between different types
has the potential to be mutually strengthening if the opposite preferences are
appreciated and recognized, or mutually antagonistic if either party thinks the
other isn’t the kind of person they “should” be. In writer-writer collaborations, S/N pairs complement
each other because both perspectives -- concrete references and an overarching
metaphor -- are needed for an enduring lyric. But it’s not always easy for S’s and N’s to “get on
the same page” with each other.
In a T/F collaboration, the T input
provides the analysis of structure, meter, language and logic, while the “F”
input provides effective communication through emotion. Introverts usually don’t collaborate
with other introverts, because they have an inner voice which they’d rather
listen to, but in so doing, may limit their sources of ideas, and feedback. Extraverts love to collaborate with
others, but two extroverts collaborating
miss the dimension of quiet introspection, so important to adding depth
to meaning and emotion in a song. An E/I team can produce great results if each
respects the needs and quirks of the other. J/J collaboration is usually the type where a specific
time and agenda are decided in advance. A P/P collaboration means that either
party can call the other at any hour of the night when an inspiration
strikes. Both of these methods
seem to work well. In a J/P
collaboration, assuming the partners can get along, the J forces the P to focus
energy on the task of writing, and usually pushes to get things finished. The P
opens the J to the possibilities of developing inspirations outside of the
appointed time and topic, and is more open to rewriting and revising. ESFP entertainers and ESTJ agents make
a good collaboration, The ES qualities allow easy communication, and the SP/TJ
differences provide complementary strengths
Collaboration is more than
just two writers getting together. It’s a mutual effort among any group of
people who share a common goal, be it artistic, business, legal, or
technical, getting together in a
way so that each can use their strengths to shine a light where the others might have a blind spot. Viewed in this way,
reaching the pinnacle of art, craft, and commercial reward will be far less of
the emotionally draining battle that it so often is. The music industry will be healthier for it, and the
world will be richer for what will be produced.
The personality preference information presented here is based on the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), a
well researched and globally used indicator of personality preferences. Millions of people worldwide have
been profiled since The MBTI was developed in 1942 by a mother and her
daughter. For more
information refer to: Gifts Differing by Isabel Briggs Myers, CPP Books; Type Talk by Otto
Kroeger and Janet Thuesen,
Delta/Tilden Press; and Please Understand Me, by Keirsey and Bates, Prometheus Books.
Pere was named one of the "Top 50 Innovators, Groundbreakers and Guiding
Lights of the Music Industry"
by Music Connection Magazine.
With more than 30 years in the music business, as a recording artist,
award winning songwriter, performer, and educator Bill is well known
for his superbly crafted
lyrics, with lasting impact.
Bill has released 16 CD's , and is President of the Connecticut
Songwriters Association. Bill is
an Official Connecticut State Troubadour, and is the Founder and Executive
Director of the LUNCH Ensemble (www.lunchensemble.com). Twice named Connecticut
Songwriter of the Year, Bill is a qualified MBTI practitioner, a
member of CMEA and MENC, and as
Director of the Connecticut Songwriting Academy he helps develop young talent
in songwriting, performing, and
learning about the music business.
Bill's song analyses and critiques are among the best in the industry.
© Copyright 2011 Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved.
This article may not be reproduced in any way with out permission of the
author. For workshops, consultation, performances, or other songwriter services, contact Bill via his web sites, at http://www.billpere.com, http://www.ctsongwriting.com, and http://www.lunchensemble.com<