Jingle Writing

Author: Peter Bell | Course Code: OCWPR-385

Listen to an interview with course author and instructor Peter Bell on WNYC's Soundcheck program.

Have you ever wondered who makes the music for the ads or shows that you see on TV and hear on the radio? Are you curious about how this music is made, how it’s sold, who buys it and why? If you want to look under the hood at the world of commercial music, both from a process standpoint as well as a business standpoint, this course is for you. Jingle Writing explores effective composition techniques for scoring to picture, writing a melody using provided lyrics, and creating a memorable hook for a jingle.

The course examines the organizational features and personnel roles of production music publishers, ad agencies, and music houses; as well as covering the fees, royalties, residuals, and other revenue opportunities in this potentially lucrative industry. Drawing on years of personal experience, course author Peter Bell provides detailed instruction and case studies of successful business and ad agency jingles, creating stock music track packages, partnering with music libraries, and composing a theme and scoring for a television series.

You'll learn from the author's successes and from his past mistakes as you build your own skills in composing and producing commercial music and in finding, communicating with, and negotiating with clients. Jingle Writing features in-depth interviews with industry players, including agency creative director Terry MacDonald and music library owner/operator and ASCAP board of directors member Doug Wood, as well as successful jingle composers, singers, voiceover artists, and sound designers.

Work in the course will involve planning and creating finished music productions to detailed specifications to meet a deadline. You will get hands-on experience writing jingles by creating an original 30-second jingle in a specific genre, using specific voiceover copy and vocal lyrics, and then re-arranging it in at least one alternative style. You will also create an original 90-second instrumental theme and arrange elements of the composition to be used for stings, transitions, and cues. Each of these assignments will help you build your own promotional reel that you can use to pitch prospective clients.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • understand the structure of the commercial music marketplace and the roles of its participants
  • create original jingles, library track packages, and television themes according to industry standards
  • apply effective composition techniques for scoring to picture
  • write and produce a jingle spot using provided voiceover copy and vocal lyrics
  • create a memorable hook for a jingle
  • understand revenue flow in the industry, in addition to fees, royalties, and residuals
  • begin building your own promotional reel
  • apply effective strategies for pitching your work to prospective clients

The Jingle Writing course at Berklee Online is a must-take course for anyone who is serious about getting a true ‘boots on the ground,’ relevant and realistic approach to composing music for advertising." - student Michael Aarons

Why should you take this course? See what students are saying on our blog.

Lesson 1: What Is Commercial Music?

Commercial Music CategoriesWho Uses Commercial MusicIntroduction to Production Terms and DefinitionsThe Spec SheetStoryboardThe Attributes of Effective Ad MusicThe Power of a Simple Music BedAssignment 1: :30 Instrumental Bed

Lesson 2: Getting Started

Forming Your BusinessMusic House ResponsibilitiesBuilding Your Commercial Music BusinessThe ReelThe Voice Over (VO)VO Production: Processing ToolsAssignment 2: Voice Over Processing

Lesson 3: Library Music

What Is a Music Library?The Music Library Business ModelChoosing Online Sites to PartnerDefining the Music Library Track PackageStarting a Track PackageTrimming a BounceAssignment 3: Compose a :60 Music Track Package

Lesson 4: Library Music and the Track Package

Using Form to Manipulate LengthCase StudiesPublishing a Track PackageThe Library Music Business: Observations from WithinAssignment 4: Create Your Music Track Package

Lesson 5: Local Jingles, the Creative Concept, and the Pitch

Advertising Strategy for Local BusinessesIdentifying the Target AudienceOrganizing the MessageThe Tag LineTips on Writing LyricsPitching Local BusinessesNegotiating a PriceAssignment 5: Write a Voice Over and Tagline

Lesson 6: Jingle Composition

Historical Form Issues in American Pop MusicStandard Jingle Form ElementsCreating a Melodic HookMelodic, Harmonic, and Production Techniques for EmphasisMemorabilityVocal Casting and Arranging Considerations for Jingle ProductionMixing and Mastering Audio for BroadcastAssignment 6: Create a :30 Donut Jingle

Lesson 7: Winning an Agency Jingle Project

Case Study: Starting Up Musictech/Bell MusicGetting to Know Your Agency's TeamCase Study: Robin Batteau and the Heartbeat of AmericaMusical CopyrightCollaborationAssignment 7: Compose and Produce :30 Demo

Lesson 8: Scoring to Picture

The Function of the ScoreSpottingLeitmotifSound DesignHit PointsTechnical IssuesAssignment 8: Spot and Score

Lesson 9: TV Theme Music

History of TV ThemesMnemonic Arranging TechniquesProfiles of SuccessInterpreting a Style in Theme MusicAssignment 9: Compose an Original :60 to :90 Show Theme

Lesson 10: Working with a Successful Jingle, Theme, or other Existing Song

Identifying the Client's VisionCommon Musical ElementsThe Live Recording SessionRecording ProcessHybrid Musical ProductionsAssignment 10: Arrange and Produce a Tool Kit

Lesson 11: Subsequent Work, Melody, and Revenue

Commercial Music Revenue StreamMelodic Issues in Jingle WritingGetting PaidDemo and Job BiddingAssignment 11: Final Project Outline

Lesson 12: Hits, Industrials, PSAs, Pitches, and the Ones That Got Away

Pop Music in AdvertisingIndustrialsPublic Service Announcements (PSA)The Agency PitchRejection and RepurposingAwards/Trade MagazinesFinal Project: Nike "Just Do It" Jingle

Peter Bell

Author & Instructor

Peter Bell, Electronic Music and Production faculty at Berklee College of Music, is a producer, composer, and guitarist. His compositions and productions include the themes to This Old House, New Yankee Workshop, Victory Garden, the ABC After School Special, the award- winning film Radio Cape Cod, as well as countless jingles and production tracks. Peter has produced tracks featuring many world-class musicians, including Bonnie Raitt, Tracey Bonham, Livingston Taylor, Kate Taylor, Alex Taylor, Layla Hathaway, John Poussette-Dart, The New Kids On The Block, Rebecca Parris, Mick Goodrick, Mike Metheny, Mark Sandman of Morphine, Alan Estes, Patty Grifin, and others.

He has recorded with Bonnie Raitt on Warner Brothers and the James Montgomery Band on Capricorn and Island Records, among many others. His awards include two Emmys, seven NEBA awards, and six ASCAP awards. Peter holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Composition and Arranging from Berklee College of Music and a BA in Government from Harvard University.

Facility with your DAW, or access to a full-featured recording studio. An understanding of the basics of musical form, melody, chord progressions, and arranging. You should have taken one of the following courses, or have an equivalent skill set: Music Production 101, Pro Tools 101, or Producing Music with Cubase/SONAR/Logic/Ableton Live/Reason. You should be able to record or manipulate audio, as much of the music for broadcast advertising includes a voice over, singing, or both. You should also be able to import and sync audio and video in a DAW environment.

PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higherMac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, SafariFlash Player: current versionQuickTime: current versionAdobe Reader: current versionA digital audio workstation (DAW). Viable programs include Ableton Live, Digital Performer, SONAR, Logic Pro, Cubase, or Pro Tools. Students should possess an intermediate sequencing skill level with these programs.
MIDI keyboard/interface/controller (minimum 25 keys)Audio interfaceSpeakers or headphonesMicrophone
Windows Vista SP2 or higher2 GHz CPU (dual core CPU recommended)1 GB RAM4 GB of free HD spaceDisplay resolution 1024 x 768 pixelsWindows DirectX compatible audio hardware (ASIO compatible audio hardware recommended for low-latency performance)
Mac OS X 10.7 or higherIntel Mac4 GB of free HD space2 GB RAMDisplay Resolution 1024x768 pixelsCoreAudio compatible audio hardware


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Next Term Starts June 27

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    12 weeks
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