The majority of all songs on the radio are co-written, and so we have our contestants learning to co-write on our show. This helps you, the viewer, see the actual writing process (instead of seeing a person alone in a room thinking!), and it lets our contestants learn the give and take and the delicate balance of being stubborn and tenacious enough to get your idea heard, while being open and yielding to an idea that's better than your own. How you behave in a co-write and how original the thoughts you bring, will determine if your co-writer will want to write with you again and if that writer will tell other writers you are worth their time. We have all been in sessions that were particularly slow or lackluster, and halfway through we make vows never to write with that person again. No one wants to waste time or have their own time wasted.
My goal in being involved was to give each contestant a better shot at being hit songwriters, whether they won the show or not. This is a hard business to break into, and there is NO SCHOOL that teaches it. As an artist and songwriter, I benefited so much from other artists taking me under their wing and schooling me. From Bob Dylan to Neil Young, they took me aside and gave me straightforward advice and information I badly needed as an aspiring singer-songwriter. And it became words to live by.
Granted, we are not looking for "singer-songwriters" on this show. We are not looking for the next great singer or even an artist. We are looking for craftsmen who can write the hit songs that great singers and artists need. Elvis did not write his own songs -- a stable of the best in the country did that for him. Where would Whitney Houston be without the song "I Will Always Love You," written by the great Dolly Parton, not to mention the other songs that were written to show off her amazing voice? Or Celine Dion without "My Heart Will Go On," written by James Horner and Will Jennings?