Online Master's Degree Course

Songwriting Collaboration: Processes, Etiquette and Legal Aspects

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Authored by Eric Leva

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Course Code: OSONG-601

Next Semester
Starts Sept 27

Level 6 - Degree Only

Level 6

The goal of this course is to reveal what it is actually like to collaborate on a professional level. You can expect to be challenged in many areas, as this course explores the processes, legal aspects, and etiquette of collaboration through the lens of both the pure creative spirit and the sometimes gnarly business minefield. Collaboration is a business as much as it is a creative pursuit, and you will learn how and why you cannot rely on your talent alone when pursuing collaboration opportunities in the music industry. This course touches on specifics about writing and producing with others, and digs deep into what it takes to build a solid reputation, a healthy mentality, and a sustainable career.

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

  • Determine your ideal role in collaboration
  • Write within parameters (for pitch, with artists, chorus-first, etc.)
  • Work with tracks and productions
  • Find new collaborators
  • Maintain a healthy mental state with the collaboration process
  • Define PROs, Union Fees, and fair publishing splits
  • Demonstrate the unspoken ethical rules of collaboration
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info

Syllabus

Lesson 1: Why Collaborate?

  • Lennon/McCartney
  • Ashford and Simpson
  • Buckingham/Nicks
  • Contemporary Collaborations
  • Assessing Your Strengths and Weaknesses as a Solo Writer
  • Assignment 1: Elevator Pitch and Three-Song Calling Card

Lesson 2: Creating a Personal-Brand-Story as a Writer

  • Branding as a Songwriter
  • Archetypes
  • Your Brand as an Extension of Your Skillset
  • Saying Goodbye to Genre
  • Assignment 2: Archetypes

Lesson 3: Process: Starting Points in Collaboration

  • Conversation for Inspiration
  • Concepts
  • Starting with a Musical Idea
  • Starting with a Lyrical Idea
  • Assignment 3: Conversation for Inspiration

Lesson 4: What Are You Doing Here?

  • Industry Vernacular: Artist
  • Industry Vernacular: Writer/Topliner
  • Industry Vernacular: Producer
  • ‘What if I Do Everything?’
  • Assignment 4: Collaborate

Lesson 5: Process: Writing the Song Inside Out

  • Chorus First
  • Backing in to the Chorus
  • Melody First
  • Setting Lyrics to a Free-Styled Melody
  • Assignment 5: Freestyling a Melody

Lesson 6: Collaboration Etiquette

  • No Pressure: Establishing a Healthy Co-Writing Mindset
  • The Room Is a Vault
  • The Team Effort
  • Exit Strategies
  • Assignment 6: Developing the Song

Lesson 7: Legal Aspects: Copyright Ownership/‘Splits’

  • PROs: ASCAP, BMI, SESAC
  • Equal Splits
  • When Are the Splits Not Equal?
  • Taking a Co-Written Song and Finishing It Elsewhere
  • Assignment 7: Registering with a PRO

Lesson 8: Production During Collaboration

  • Process: Working with Producers in the Room
  • Etiquette: Giving Production Notes
  • Producer Roles in the Room
  • Legal Aspects: The Master vs. the Publishing
  • Union Fees
  • Assignment 8: Giving Production Notes

Lesson 9: The Writer/Artist Relationship

  • Being the Supportive Energy as a Writer
  • Preparing for an Artist Session
  • Working with Writers/Producers as the Artist
  • Artist Perspectives
  • Assignment 9: Working with an Artist

Lesson 10: Creating with Restrictions

  • Writing a Song in 30 Minutes
  • ‘Hook’-Only Writing
  • Writing to a Brief and Writing for Pitch
  • Finishing a Record
  • Assignment 10: Writing for Pitch (Part 1)

Lesson 11: The Importance of Technology in Collaboration

  • Why Songwriters Should Learn How to Produce
  • What You Need to Record Your Own Demos
  • Splice and Royalty Free Samples
  • Social Media and the Music Industry
  • Assignment 11: Writing for Pitch (Part 2)

Lesson 12: Where to Go from Here

  • Finding Collaborators
  • Building a Catalogue
  • Sharing Your Work
  • Signing Publishing/Record Deals

Requirements

Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Completion of Songwriting Tools and Techniques or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.

Students should be able to:

  • Manage a fundamental knowledge of songwriting and lyric writing techniques
  • Apply concepts of song form and structure to their analysis and project completion

Required Textbook(s)

Software Requirements

  • Full-featured DAW such as Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase Pro, Ableton, Studio One, Reason, FL Studio

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact support@online.berklee.edu for any questions.


General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. 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

Instructors

Eric Leva

Author & Instructor

Eric Leva is a songwriter, singer, producer, and classically trained pianist from Massachusetts. Leva has studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and Berklee College of Music. Following his studies, Leva spent time in New York City to hone his craft and develop his writing. A songwriting award from the ASCAP Foundation eventually sparked a move to Los Angeles to pursue more collaborations. His recent releases include Kesha, DNCE, Wes Period, and Rozzi.

Questions?

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

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

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