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Writing Session Tips from Esthy

A panellist at this year’s NAMM Show in Los Angeles, Esthy is an established producer, songwriter and overall creative peep. She guides us into some more writing session tips - make sure to take notes!

Writing Session Tips from Esthy

I am a music producer, songwriter, and artist in Los Angeles. I’ve been working in the music industry for quite a few years now, and these are the tips that I wish someone had shared with me about writing sessions before I stepped into the scene:

The most important thing to clarify first is what the goal of the writing session is. Is it to write a song that is suitable for sync placements on TV, for a bigger artist/label, or for you or the person you’re writing with? Whatever it might be, make sure to talk about it before you get started.

Once you have that down, you all know that now you are moving towards a common goal. This is important to establish for many reasons, but here’s a common example: A writing session often has more than one topliner, so it's crucial to clarify who the song is for in advance, as it gets really awkward very quickly if you’d both like to keep the song for yourself.

If you’re just starting out, it’s essential to keep in mind that everybody is human and that writing is a creative process that involves a lot of trial and error, even if you’re a well-seasoned professional. Don’t be afraid to throw out ideas, loops, lyrics, and melodies once you establish the goal and the mood/theme of the song. In my writing sessions, we often go through 5-6 ideas before settling on the one we're going to work on. Even then, don't be afraid to express your opinion. If after 30 minutes, you feel that the basic melody/hook is dull, there’s a big chance your writing partner feels the same way. Don’t be afraid to speak up and consider changing directions at any point in the writing session.

Another crucial thing is to understand your role in this session. A writing session typically consists of a music producer, a songwriter, and a topliner/artist. In most cases, people have multiple skills, so it's essential to define roles and make it clear what your contribution to the song will likely be, leaving room for others to do their parts as well. Of course, feel free to speak your mind on any matter, but make sure that everyone feels heard, and it is a collaboration.

Lastly, write and sign a split sheet! At the end of each session, write up the master and publishing percentages that you guys decided to have on the song. Make sure to include your PRO info, for instance, your IPI number in the US or PRS number in the UK (as well as additional sub-publishers or administering publishers you might have).

Make sure EVERYONE in the room signs the split sheet and that you all have a copy of the paperwork, even if it's just a 20-second jingle for a friend. You never know when a huge opportunity will land for a song, and if the bag is big, you need to make sure everyone remembers their share correctly.

One more tip: Register the song on the PRO system, even if it’s not released yet or never will be released. This will come in handy if you happen to land a sync placement.

If you don’t know about master and publishing rights, and PRO registration, make sure to dive into it (a Google search does wonders) before you move forward with your music career. It’s essential to understand your rights and contribution shares, and to see how you can get paid for your musical works.

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