Are you struggling to find some assistance when it comes to writing the songs for your band?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
I’ll make the assumption that most, if not all of you, are songwriters. If you’ve ever felt the disheartening pressure of being the sole songwriter for a band, you’ll know just how difficult the task can be. If it’s still going on now and you’re becoming fairly sickened by the responsibility, don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place.
Share your story in the comments, you may find someone who is in exactly the same position as you. Trust us, even Ian and I here at Buden Bay, have been in this position before.
Let’s first of all look at the pros and cons of this position and responsibility:
So here’s one side of the coin…
Believe it or not, it may feel nightmare-ish sometimes but you’re in the best possible role in your band!
With this responsibility, you are almost forced into learning the ins-and-outs of songwriting. Through trial and error you gain perspective on the best ways to write music; what works and what doesn’t. To many, it can be seen as an open gateway to real improvement.
It’s not the worst role to have. In fact, give this a read: How To Make The Most Of Your Practice Time. It explains why being in a band with “better” players than yourself can actually be the best thing for you! It’ll help to shape you as an all-around musician and performer. A very similar concept to what we’re going through here.
Being the only songwriter in the band is undoubtedly the most difficult role to have in any band. It doesn’t just test your ability to acknowledge and understand the roles of each individual instrument but it also tests your capabilities to compose in a style that reflects your band and each of the members within it. This supports the idea that being the sole songwriter can provide you with the experience needed to turn yourself into a hell of a songwriter.
Now here’s the alternate perspective…
To be handed all of the responsibility isn’t fair on any one member of the group. Everybody gets the same cheers at your live shows but you feel like the others haven’t quite earned it as much as you have. The only thing that would make it fair is for the other members to pull their weight and start contributing to the designing of the material they’re playing.
Seems fair right?
In my experience, it took a lot of encouragement from me in order to even get my band-mates to offer feedback for the parts I wrote for them. No clever mind games. If anything it could be deemed “positive manipulation”. It was a form of manipulation, although where most people think of that word as a negative thing, this certainly wasn’t. It was encouragement.
I recall waiting for the right moments to speak with the other three band members, individually. It was ideal to wait for times such as nights out or practice sessions when perhaps two of us had turned up early and there was time to talk. At that point, I then asked each of them about what they thought of their parts. I realised that the main reason for their lack of input was that they were fearful of rejection. Afraid that the other three of us wouldn’t approve and so, they never spoke up about any ideas.
With this in mind, the one-to-one approach did wonders for their outlet and their confidence. Being a friend to each of them and showing an encouraging nature brought out their creativity. It also gave me the feedback I desperately craved!
In addition to the guys offering me some feedback, they also became engaged with the songwriting procedures. This began when I asked our keys/synth player what his favourite effects and sounds were on his instruments. While he was setting up for practice, I started jamming along, however I could. This was purely in an attempt to boost his confidence and improve his attitude towards improvising and perhaps to even push him to find more sounds outside of our “band hours”. He clearly found it enjoyable, started a jam-session. Before long, we began incorporating his random sounds and jam sessions into song parts. Before I knew it, he was arriving with ideas ready for us and it began to spur the others into life as well.
It was certainly strange, the way that a few little bits of that positive manipulation encouraged everyone to raise their game.
Anyway, after a few practices had passed, I found that half of songs weren’t actually written by me! which suited me just fine. It made the practices much more relaxed and entertaining. Even the atmosphere at our gigs started to improve. We all felt humbled when the crowd enjoyed our music.
So how can you translate this into your band?
- If you’re struggling to find help, it’s probably because the other members fear their ideas will be rejected. Be friendly about it and do not make your band-mates aware of your issue. You don’t want them to be aware that you’re going to ask them for their input. That can be extremely nerve-racking for the people in question, if they indeed are afraid of rejection, and it could push them further into that fear. Remember, a band is supposed to be fun!
- Speak to each of your band-mates on a one-to-one basis. It feels more engaging and it promotes an understanding between you and whoever you’re speaking to.
- Make the band a fun experience. There’s that word again, fun. If you approach your drummer asking for them to apply themselves more to the songwriting in the band, they could just run a mile… understandably. Take an interest in their preferences. Who’s their favourite drummers, what’s their favourite song… etc. Be an encouraging figure in the band.
- Play along with your band-mates when they’re noodling. This promotes a creative atmosphere for everyone, not just you as a sole songwriter. These jam-sessions could end up turning into great songs and you would all feel great having been a part of the creative writing process.
- Continue to encourage. What’s the point if you’re just going to push them further into their shells. Entice each of them out of their shells with a fun atmosphere.
- Be aware that this may take some time. Let me tell you, it’s worthwhile. At the end of it, you’ll find your band is a stronger unit and your set-list will grow exponentially within a few weeks/months!
To continue from here would only involve me reiterating my point. Fun and Engaging, that is how you need to be and that is how the practice sessions need to feel.
Have Fun & Keep Playing
Director of Content, Buden Bay