Online Master's Degree Course

Collaborative Songwriting


Authored by Neil Diercks


Course Code: OSONG-601

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 6 - Degree Only

Level 6

Collaborative songwriting in a professional environment involves an array of skills, abilities, and experience with different co-writing situations. In today’s music industry, collaborations between songwriters in distant parts of the world are common. Co-writing in this kind of global setting requires the ability to effectively and efficiently use basic web-based technology in ways that promote teamwork and creativity. By the end of the course, you will have gained the skills, knowledge, and confidence to be capable of walking into a professional-level setting and creatively/effectively collaborating with other songwriters in the industry.

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This course is set up to provide students with a comprehensive spectrum of skills, abilities, knowledge, and experiences that can make you an even more creative, effective, and sought-after collaborator in the music industry.

The course material is taught through multiple methods, including regular live web-based collaborative songwriting projects, as well as written instruction, online video, live instructor/class interaction, and discussions of co-writing teams from the Brill Building's hitmakers to Lennon/McCartney to Max Martin and his army of collaborators. 

By the end of the course, you'll be able to:

  • Use technology tools for online collaboration
  • Understand legal aspects of publishing and writer shares of a song
  • Register copyright
  • Affiliate with a PRO (Performing Rights Organization)
  • Properly compose songwriting split sheets
  • Contribute creatively in a group setting
  • Function in a professional manner in co-writing sessions
  • Effectively collaborate for specific projects (i.e. writing for a specific artist or song type)
  • Make effective and creative use of a group’s diverse skills and musical backgrounds
  • Mitigate and navigate group conflict
  • Write for deadlines
  • Develop effective and creative workflow with others and alone
  • Shift creative roles in different co-writing settings
  • Build beneficial creative relationships
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info


Lesson 1: Tech Tools for Collaboration

  • Setting up your Online Collaboration Tools
  • Using Google Drive to Collaborate
  • Using Dropbox for Storage
  • Collaborating Live with Google Hangouts
  • Assignment 1: Collaborate Online with Your Classmates

Lesson 2: Co-writing for a Target Artist: Directed

  • Anatomy of a Song
  • Songwriter’s Share
  • Publisher’s Share
  • Ownership of Master
  • Collaborative Concepts: The “No-Free” Zone
  • Workflow: Setting Objectives
  • Assignment 2: Write for a Specific Artist

Lesson 3: Co-writing for a Target Artist: Chosen by Team

  • Split Sheets: Ownership Shares of a Song and Master
  • Collaborative Concepts: Listening with an Open Mind
  • Workflow: Dividing up Tasks
  • Assignment 3: Collaborate Online to Write for a Specific Artist

Lesson 4: Co-writing for a Genre: Directed

  • PRO’s (Performance Rights Organization)
  • Collaborative Concepts: “Birth It …Then Work It”
  • Workflow: Choosing Paths
  • Assignment 4: Collaborate on a Song for a Specific Genre

Lesson 5: Co-writing for a Genre: Chosen by Team

  • Copyright Registration
  • Collaborative Concepts: Show Me Your Bits and Pieces
  • Workflow: Navigating Difference of Opinion
  • Assignment 5: Use Tech Tools to Collaborate on a Song for a Specific Genre

Lesson 6: Co-writing for Song Type: Directed

  • Using/Clearing Samples
  • Collaborative Concepts
  • Workflow: Setting Objectives
  • Assignment 6: Collaborate on a Specific Song Type

Lesson 7: Co-writing for Song Type: Chosen by Team

  • Musician Release Agreements
  • Collaborative Concepts
  • Workflow: Setting Objectives
  • Assignment 7: Collaborate on a Full Song

Lesson 8: Co-writing for TV/Film Placement: Directed

  • Sync Licenses
  • Collaborative Concepts: Reviewing Team Meetings
  • Workflow: Team Communication
  • Assignment 8: Create a Song for a Specific Film/TV Project

Lesson 9: Co-writing for Film/TV Placement: Chosen by Team

  • One-Stop Clearance
  • Collaborative Concepts: Assessing Your Team
  • Workflow: Working with a Skeleton Crew
  • Assignment 9: Create a Complete Song for Film or TV

Lesson 10: Co-writing as/with an Artist

  • Musician Clearance Agreements
  • Collaborative Concepts: Reinforcing Relationships
  • Workflow: Damage Control/Rebuilding
  • Assignment 10: Create a Song for the Team’s Artist

Lesson 11: Co-writing as/with an Artist

  • Pitching Your Songs
  • Collaborative Concepts: Pooling your Other Talents and Skills
  • Workflow: Setting Objectives for Pitching a Song
  • Assignment 11: Create a Complete Song

Lesson 12: Wide Open: Co-writing a Song Organically

  • Assignment 12: Create a Complete Song Without Specifications


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Music Production Fundamentals for SongwritersLyric Writing: Tools and Strategies, and Songwriting Tools and Techniques or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.


  • No textbooks required


  • Students are required to collaborate with classmates each week to write songs and produce multitrack recordings that are as close to professional quality as possible. This includes recording vocals and instrumental accompaniment (live instruments and/or MIDI sequencing).


  • Full-featured Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), such as Pro Tools (Studio or Ultimate), Logic Pro, Cubase Pro, Ableton Live (Suite or Standard), Reaper, Reason, or FL Studio (Producer or Signature). Note that GarageBand is not acceptable.


  • MIDI keyboard controller
  • Audio interface
  • XLR microphone (large diaphragm condenser recommended) and cable
  • Closed back, over-ear studio headphones such as Sony MDR-7506 or better
  • Recommended: Studio monitors (pair), such as JBL 305Ps or better, and necessary cables


  • Pop filter
  • Microphone stand

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Neil Diercks

Author & Instructor

Neil Diercks is a Los Angeles-based songwriter, song coach, and musician. He served for many years in various capacities at Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., in Nashville, beginning as an intern and eventually becoming Manager of A&R Activities. It was within this role that he worked with hit songwriters including Gary Burr, Steve Bogard, Stephony Smith, Jeff Stevens, and Victoria Shaw, who penned hits for artists such as Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Ricky Martin, and Christina Aguilera.

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Neil is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Berklee College of Music, where he studied songwriting, voice, and music business, and went on to serve on the Board of Trustees for three years. He has lectured and led songwriting workshops internationally, and has won several awards for his teaching, including the UPCEA Excellence in Teaching award (2015); the Pearson Excellence In Online Teaching award (2015); The Berklee College of Music Distinguished Faculty Award for Berklee Online (2016). He currently collaborates with songwriters and artists in Los Angeles and around the globe. Read Less


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at