Last updated on May 18th, 2023
The writers round phenomenon is one that most musicians are eager to take a bite out of. My last few posts have dealt exclusively with how to approach writers rounds and make the best of your time on stage. Whether you’re a participating live musician or the one hosting them, there are certain things you need to bear in mind as you embark upon this avenue of your musical journey.
The Muze community is constantly growing, and as it does, we continue to meet more and more people who are happy to help one another out. Our first writers round went exceptionally well, due in large part to the excellent acts we managed to conglomerate on a single stage. Still, there’s no guarantee that things are always going to run smoothly from start to finish, so it helps to be prepared for any and all hiccups in the process.
After hosting more writers rounds than I can reasonably count over the past few years, I’m able to comfortably look back on the best and worst case scenarios like a film reel. Luckily, I live in a city where occupational hazards in live music are almost always fleshed out in advance, so the crisis blanket happens to be a wide one. However, for those of you who don’t live in Nashville and might not know exactly how to handle certain writers round problems in the process, this piece is especially for you.
Here’s a list of things that can go wrong on any given writers night if you’re the host, as well as a series of corresponding solutions to keep things under control if and when problems arrive.
1. You accidentally double-booked the someone at the writers round
If you’re hosting the writers round, there’s a good chance you’re also booking it. This isn’t a big deal. If you accidentally double-booked an act and have an extra musician where there should only be one, just humbly apologize for the mix-up and either 1. rearrange the line-up and put someone in an earlier/later round, or 2. have an extra body up there and ask the performers to play one less song so it doesn’t extend into overtime.
2. Someone has forgotten a piece of equipment
Depending on what it is, you can supplement someone’s lost mic, capo, tuner, or even guitar at the last minute if you make sure you have spare equipment on hand. After all, you are the host, and it’s your job to pick up the slack when someone else drops it. Still, there are times when accountability trumps all, and if a musician has forgotten a series of things that simply cannot be replaced, they’ll have to endure the consequences and sit the show out.
3. Someone is talking too much between songs
If you’ve got an ego maniac on your hands who simply refuses to adhere to his or her allotted time slot and is smothering everyone else on the writers round stage, don’t be afraid to step forward and subtly tell them to wrap it up or to get back on track. Nine times out of ten, they’ll oblige without any objection. Even if it means you have to get on the mic yourself and tell them to pump the brakes before the whole crowd, do it. Don’t be afraid to put your foot down.
4. Someone doesn't show up to the writers round
Again, this is bound to happen at some point or another. There were plenty of times that I stepped in at a writers round for a no-show, so if you’re a songwriter and a musician, go right ahead. You can also ask the group to play one extra song to make up for the empty chair.