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Have you ever had a disagreement with a collaborator? How did you resolve the issue and what would you do differently to avoid a similar problem in the future?

A songwriter from Ohio, writes:
Yes...i have. We were writing a song dedicated to a friend, and our versions we wrote were completely different in topic and everything. We eventually stuck with her idea because it was basically more on the topic and i read over it a few times and changed some things around.
Glenn Millar
A songwriter from Belfast, Northern Ireland, writes:
I have had many disagreements with collaborators and they usually come when the person has a song and they want your input on or they leave it with you to mess around with and don't like what you have done with it. It's quite hard to collaborate when the song is almost in a complete state. The way I approach it is to say what I feel if I like it or if I don't like certain parts and make suggestions for change like other chords or lyrics. Usualy I get fustrated with this as it can sometimes seem like you're only being asked out of tokenism ie happening to be a member of the band!!!! I haven't always handled it well and have avoided comment for the sake of peace love and harmony!!!! but that means playing a song you're not happy with. I suppose that answer has been no help at all but there you go. It's a difficult thing collaborating and really depends on the relationship and bond if there is any with that other person.
John Aaron
A singer/songwriter who didn't tell me where he's from, writes:
I've found that any disagreements I felt strongly enough about, were worthy of being an entirely new song and sometimes this is where the best work has come from. Whenever you get creative people together at some point the 2 or 3 of you are not always going to see eye to eye on every concept all the way through. Discuss exactly what you are trying to say in the song beforehand and then there should be no interpretational squabbles.
Doug Oliver
A composer,musician(guitar,keys,drums,bass, backing vocals), producer from Phila suburbs, writes:
This response , in a way, doesn't directly answer the question, but brings up a relative point concerning collaboration. Due to problems in the past, I never co-write a song. I don't want to have to compromise on a detail if I feel strongly that it's fine(or even great) as it is. I feel its best to write songs by yourself. If you're stuck and having a problem with a chorus or bridge, whatever, keep working on it and eventually you'll always get it. Over time, by being forced to always figure it out yourself instead of asking for help, you'll develope stronger songwriting skills. I know it sounds selfish,and its not typical of my personality at all, but when it comes to my musical creations I don't want to have to change anything that I feel strongly about, and with a partner you occasionally have to. Wanting to be a solo composer is the reason I learned to play the piano. I'm a guitar player basically, but keys are great for songwriting and also I didn't want to depend on anyone else for playing the keys ,thus having to collaborate with his opinion on a piano passage or a chord voicing, scale choice, harmonic structure, etc. So my answer is not to collaborate in the first place. Work harder and you don't need help.
A songwriter from TN, writes:
Oh yeah! There was one guy... I was writing the music; he was writing the words. He had too many words in this one part of the verse so it would not fit rhythmically with the music. So I cut it out, but then it didn't make sense. He blamed me for not being flexible and trying to make it work and of course, I thought he just didn't have enough talent. I hope he's not reading this! But I have met two very good co-writers online that I have written with a lot, and I guess we've just worked out little details, but otherwise have had no other weird problems.
A songwriter in Oslo, Norway, writes:
Many times, but it's always the lyrics that cause trouble. You can only co-write with people who share at least most of your taste in music. I've found that the solution is getting rid of democracy, letting only one person at a time "own" the lyrics, and make final decisions. It works, because there'll always be a next time if you're any good together.
Lillie Lawrence
A vocalist/songwriter from Houston, TX, writes:
Yes. I have had a disagreement with a collaborator and, even harder to deal with is it was my husband. We did not speak for about two days because I wanted the song line to be one thing and, he another. We finally resolved it by comprimise. I used half of his line and, half of mine and, found other words to rythme that meant the same as the words that I wanted. Comprimise is the clear answer to the last past part of that second question. It works in the marriage all of the time, even in songwriting!
Chuck Windham
A songwriter, Lyricist, poet, drummer, acoustic guitarist, WAV artist. Presently residing in SC, writes:
I've found from experience, that sometimes it is good to lose the ego. A little tension is sometimes necessary for creating killer music, But don't let it get to the point of no return. When others couldn't see where I was coming from, I used to hit the roof. I've learned that often, what others have to contribute can enhance the effectiveness of a particular composistion. I still keep an ego when it comes to my lyrics, though. The reason being that I have been writing songs since I was eight, and what I write about is off the beaten track. I deal in subtlties, and usually when someone tampers with a lyric by, say, adding a line or changing a word, they usually destroy the subtle, in favor of establishing the obvious. It's like baking a cake, and having someone inscribe in icing on the top: "This is a cake". Still, I tend to review the added to or diminished lyric for a week or two in the chance that it might be me that's missing the point. If I fail to reach an agreement with a collaborator, what we do now, is create more than one version of the song in question, and let the people decide.
John Bizzack
A songwriter/publisher in KY, writes:
Disagreements between song writers are most likely to take place when one, or both writers simply fail to set the guidelines and rules before they start to write.

You can't work at any job sucessfully nor play any game and win if you do not have an understanding of the guidelines and or rules of that job or game. Songwriting is no different.

Experience levels contribute to many disagreements. Experienced writers are usually not too eager to work with writers who, for example, know little about song structure, Inexperienced writers are often still learning about the process when they start that first collaboration, If two inexperienced writers collaborate and know little about the process,then it's likely to be a difficult relationship.

One very good way to avoid disagreements is to learn as much about the potential collaborator as you can. See if that person is a good match for your skill level and initiative. Determine what sort of person you will write with and who will avoid. It's like any other business and more often than not you'll have to treat it like that to be successful.

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