It’s been the talking point of the week. Music Week’s research into how many songwriters it now takes to write a hit (spoiler: a lot more than you think) has caused a stir in the songwriting, publishing and wider music businesses.
So Music Week sat down with the man at the helm of the UK’s No.1 music publisher – Sony/ATV’s UK managing director and president, global creative Guy Moot (pictured) – to get his take on the co-writing phenomenon…
Why does it now take so many people to write a hit song?
From a publishing point of view, we love 100% songs. One, because you get 100% of the revenue but also, from an administration point of view, approvals, everything else… It’s just a lot easier to administer. With the rise in awareness of publishing, more people want to write and more artists want to write. And that social introduction to each other is an exciting, catalytic thing; it helps people to progress and grow and learn from each other. Co-writing used to be about two people but, as your research shows, these days it may very well be three or more people in a room.
Why don’t artists write their own hits anymore?
In all cases now, lyric and melody writers, particularly lyricists, take a while to mature into that. You’ve got a young artist finding themselves as a songwriter, you maybe have a young producer and quite often you need someone in the middle to help pull it all together. They’re all going to be better for the experience and, of course, you bring the international [element]. So now they can be connected to people all over the world. The writing capitals are LA, London, Stockholm, Nashville – I wish I could say New York, but there isn’t much left in New York… Those are the places where you go and collaborate, and it makes everybody richer for that [experience]. London innovates in sound, LA has more topliners, maybe you’ve got a guy that makes the beat. You are quite unique these days if you’re a 100% writer and you produce the whole thing.
You’ve got one of those writers in Calvin Harris. What’s his secret?
He can do the whole thing. But then again, his last two records have been more collaborative. I can’t speak for Calvin, but I am sure that that was an enjoyable experience. I think you just throw something in the mix and it gives you some other edge; someone suddenly will teach you this or they bring a great middle-eight or an expert comes out with lyrical themes. Co-writing is almost like taking your clothes off in front of a stranger when you first meet. But then, the magic can happen. Overall, I think it’s quite healthy. I’m sure that when you speak to writers they will say that there is a lot of interaction and it’s a lot of fun.
So are the days of the band or artist that exclusively writes and records their own material on the way out?
Well, I think that’s in decline. Music is just so different these days, you have to bring different skills to the mix.
Click here to read Moot's 2016 Music Week Big Interview.