An interesting article I came across by Gary Ewer that’s worth sharing -
Songwriting partnerships should not exclude the demonstration of healthy egos
“I am a believer in good songwriting collaborations if those collaborators had a reason to hitch their horses to the same wagon. As a composer of music, if you find another writer who shares some of your own basic philosophies of why you write music in the first place, and can fill voids you have in your songwriting technique, you’ve got the makings of a powerfully effective collaboration. But I find myself rolling my eyes at the scenario where 5 or 6 or more musicians, all sitting in a studio, attempt to hammer out a new tune for some high-profile singer to present to the world. I don’t like those kinds of collaborations, at least most of the time. And I dislike them mainly because the music usually lacks an initial vision, and the lack of vision comes from a skewed underlying philosophy behind music.
Any one songwriter’s philosophy is usually hard to define, but it’s something you sense. Bob Dylan, for example, may be quite interested in the money he makes from music, but you don’t get the sense that it’s the main underlying philosophy. He’s usually trying to get a message out there. It’s too simplistic, I believe, to suggest that having 9 musicians getting a writing credit on a song (Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love”) automatically means that it lacks vision. In fact, it may simply be the way a lot of music is being written today: “We just kinda had a party. It was so great, because it wasn’t about any ego, we weren’t trying to make a hit record [...] we were just having fun…and I think you can hear that in the record.” -Beyoncé
It’s also a reflection of how songwriting credits are doled out these days. It seems that anyone in the room while a song is being put together gets a writing credit. And to be truthful, it may be unfair to suggest that having 9 songwriters in the credits automatically means that the song lacks an initial vision, or isn’t supported by a sophisticated philosophy. Having said that, I question whether the best music anyone can write will come from musicians who “… just kinda had a party.”
I still believe that today’s best music is being written by one or two songwriters who practice the art of songwriting, and who do so with a disciplined, positively critical mind.
Regarding Beyoncé’s statement that “… it wasn’t about any ego,” I actually want ego when I listen to music. I want to hear ego loud and clear, and so should you. Ego is only ever bad when it’s overbearing and loud for no good reason. A healthy ego does not arrogantly silence other voices in the room. And maybe that’s the best part of healthy songwriting collaborations: two egos in a room, confident to acknowledge each other’s talents, and producing music that’s really worth listening to.
Music that starts with a vision, a message, and results in a song that honours that initial vision – that’s what good songwriting has always been.
If you can get that with a team of 9 songwriters, more power to you.”