Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top Ten Tips, Tools and Tricks for Effective Songwriting!

Tonight (Tues, Oct 26), Ben Camp will be presenting the most effective songwriting techniques he's learned in the last 3 years at Berklee. He normally charges Ten Million Dollars for this seminar, but he's giving it away tonight for FREE.  (Mostly because he couldn't actually get anyone to pay Ten Million Dollars.)

There may, or may not, be free pizza and donuts tonight.

In addition, the floor is opened up to ALL OF YOU.  If there's a song that taught you something, email us the lyrics and/or chords, and an mp3 of the song. Come tell us what you learned from the song, and why you like it.  We're all here to learn!

Techniques Include:

 - Songwriting and Psychology: Scientific methods to affect human behavior with music.
 - Title Writing: Never be lost for a song-title again!
 - The Character Rules: Writing convincingly from a character
 - Rhyme Position & Scheme: Make a massive impact by moving 1 word.
 - It's The Little Things: Getting the most out of the details in your song.
 - Open Sesame: How to write a first line that grabs your listener.
 - When are you free for lunch: Effective use of songs in your dating life. 
 - The Fortune Cookie Technique: Make your chorus feel like dessert
 - Appropriately Mis-setting your lyrics: Berklee doesn't have it ALL right (or: When 4/4 isn't really 4/4.)
 - The "Question & Answer" Technique: -- Grab your listener using an ages old storytelling method .
 - Less is More: How to break someone's heart in 32 bars.
 - Friends in LOW Places: Using lower chorus melodies for impact.
 - Writing from the Rhyme: Spotlight your songs emotion before even writting the song.
 - Object Writing: Find the best details to highlight in your song
 - Shut Up Already!: Effective use of space in your songs
 - Attention, Please: Engaging an audience that doesn't care about your subject.
 - Where Are We Going?: Taking your listeners on a journey.
 - Sorry? I Missed That...: The key insight into your listener's mind that will change the way you write.

Examples from Rap, Musical Theatre, Pop/Rock, Singer/Songwriter, Country, and more!

Seeking Songs!

Looking for songs for your album/tv show/website/project?  Please post in the comments below!

First Up, Salomon Sterental's call for songwriters:

Hey everyone!
   If you are a hot songwriter (melodies and/or lyrics) in the genres of Pop/Dance/Hip-Hop hit us up! We are a couple of producers from Miami and are hence influenced by the best of the Pop, Dance, Hip-Hop, and Latin worlds. Collectively we have gathered work experience with The Fliptones (Lil' Wayne, Jason Derulo), Sony Latin, and Zumba Fitness' music department so we are serious about compiling a smashing portfolio.
Thank you,

Salo & Beto


Monday, October 25, 2010

Tuesday Night Lectures

Songwriters Club is hosting a series of amazing TED-Talks style lectures for your edification!  We're getting the industry's best talent to talk about production, making money, music publishing, songwriting, and more.  Click below for specific info on each lecture -- all lectures are 8-10pm in Room 118.

Tues, Oct 26th: The Top 10 Tips, Tricks and Tools for effective songwriting. Ben Camp and friends will be presenting a selection of the most effective tools they have learned for songwriting.  Also: If there is a song that has taught you an effective songwriting technique, please email the song and share it with us tonight!

Tues, Nov 2nd: Pat Pattison Epic Lyric Phrasing Masterclass: Get the most emotion out of your lyrics, or: How to change everything without changing anything.

Tues, Nov 9th: Production TED Talks: Inside the Producers mind! How they work, how to work with them, and what you can do for yourself!

Tues, Nov 16th: How to make MONEY with your songs: Livingston Taylor hosts a second round of his standing-room-only lecture.

Tues Nov 23rd: Marketing/Publishing/Business Clinic: Handle your business, or find someone else to do it!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Production for Songwriters Clinic!

WHEN: 8pm-10pm, TUES Nov 9th, 2010
WHERE: 150 Building, Rm 118
WHAT: Berklee's esteemed MP&E faculty come to drop some science on production: What to look for in a producer, what a producer does, and what you can do as a songwriter to get the best result out of your studio time!

WHO:  We'll be treated to talks from the following panel (to be updated!)



  • Tony has written for artists on both Major & Independent labels, and has racked up 5 Top 20 "Dance" records as well as 3 top 5 records in Billboard's Dance Charts!
  • Tony has produced records for Major & Independent labels, and jingles for 7-11, Bob's Big Boy, and many others.
  • Tony has had several successful TV placements of his music on programs both nationally and internationally.

The Five Big Bangs of Hip Hop 
MP&E's Prince Charles will outline the musical and technological revolutions the genre has contributed to popular music in the 21st century.

  • Independent record producer/engineer
  • Client list includes Mary J. Blige, Destiny’s Child, P. Diddy, Alicia Keys, the Notorious B.I.G., and Luther Vandross
  • Received three Grammy Awards and seven Grammy nominations
  • More than 40 platinum and gold certifications from the RIAA


  • Ph.D., McGill University, experimental psychology

  • Recordings as a mixer/engineer with Prince, David Byrne, Barenaked Ladies, Tricky, Paul Westerberg, Geggy Tah, and Michael Penn

  • Research interests include auditory memory, music perception and cognition, and psychoacoustics

Friday, October 22, 2010

Super-charged Marketing/Publishing/Business clinic!

Want to be successful with your music? Okay.. that was a dumb question.. you're spending $45,000 a year to go here, so you'd better want to be sucessful, right?

WHEN: Nov 23rd, 2010. 8pm-10pm.
WHERE: 150 Mass Ave, Room 118
WHAT:  The chance to learn what it takes to make it in today's music industry!

We've assembled a crack team of Berklee's Best Music Businessicians to help you take your career to the next level with advice on what music publishers are looking for, how to market yourself, and how to handle your business in the new music industry! MP&E Professor Tony Carbone and his publisher Curtis Urbina will be talking about the new world of music publishing and listening to student demos, and Berklee's Stephanie Kellar will be speaking about how to successfully market your music in today's music business!

Curtis Urbina
Label President, Music Publisher and Instructor at New York University
  • How To Become Music Business Literate
  • The Various Aspects of the Music Business (Creative, Legal and Economic)
  • What It Takes To Create Lasting Relationships in the Music Business
  • The Steps Necessary To Pick Yourself Up When You’ve Been knocked Down

Brian Curr

Berklee Internship Coordinator
  • Advisor to over 500 students
  • Assists students in reaching their career goals through experiential learning (Internships)
  • Prior to Berkle, Brian was a recruiter/staffing specialist for a Fortune 500 workforce solutions firm.
  • Brian will be discussing what it takes to survive in the workforce today.

Stephanie Kellar Music Business Professor at Berklee College of Music
  • Over 20 years of professional integrated marketing
    communication and branding practice
  • Past clients include Intel, Polaroid, CMGI, Comdata, Sabian, J. D’Addario, Gretsch, and Berklee Press
  • Past employers include the McCourt Company, Boston Acoustics, and Catapult Thinking

Tony Carbone MP&E Professor at Berklee College of Music

  • Tony has written for artists on both Major & Independent labels, and has racked up 5 Top 20 "Dance" records as well as 3 top 5 records in Billboard's Dance Charts!
  • Tony has produced records for Major & Independent labels, and jingles for 7-11, Bob's Big Boy, and many others.
  • Tony has had several successful TV placements of his music on programs both nationally and internationally.

* A special note from the Office of Experiential Learning on their Internship programs:

Internships can be a hard sell for students overloaded with coursework and outside
creative commitments. Many eager songwriting majors enter our office inquiring about the possibility of landing a writing or performing position, only to lose interest when we explain that while songwriting internships for publication are possible, internships are far more likely to involve varying degrees of administrative work behind the scenes. As they understand it, they’re paying tuition to learn to write music, not sit at a desk.

Maybe creating a database at a major label isn’t your idea of developing as an artist, but you’d be surprised how a casual conversation with your boss about your impression of songwriting can lead to their next question: “So what sort of writing do you do?” If they’ve already come to rely on you to get things done right, the might be interested in your talent as well.

Songwriting in particular is a maze of legal contracts, royalty management, and day-to-day collaboration with artists and other songwriters. What happens to your work between submission to a publisher, producer or label and final publication? If your career depends even partly on that machinery, you can’t depend on your textbook to paint a clear picture of what to expect as an artist. 

Please visit the OEL’s website for more details on their programs, office hours
and location.

Owner of UK's biggest booking agency comes to Berklee!

See below.  Event is Weds, Oct 27th, 6:30PM at DFRH!  Well worth a visit if you want a career as a performing artist.

Upcoming Concerts [OCT/NOV]

Are you in the SW club?  Think we should know about your show? Post your concert info in the comments below!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to Make MONEY with Your Music!

Tuesday Night Lecture series:
Livingston Taylor returns to do another one of his smash-hit clinics for the club.  The topic of his talk? HOW TO MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR MUSIC!
Last year's clinic was STANDING ROOM ONLY so be sure you get there early and submit your song if you'd like a critique!

WHEN: TUES, November 16th, 2010. 8pm-10pm.
WHERE: 150 Mass Ave, Rm 118
WHY: Because I told you so.  And because you do want to be successful at music, right???

WHAT: Some of the best career and songwriting advice you'll hear all year!
HOW DO I SUBMIT MY SONG: Submissions open Tues morning at 8am. Send your song in early (we'll critique in order received). Send lyrics to berkleesongwritersclub@gmail.com with the subject "YOUR NAME - Livingston Song"

Livingston's Biography:
Livingston Taylor picked up his first guitar at the age of thirteen, beginning a forty-year career that has encompassed performance, songwriting and teaching. Born in Boston and raised in North Carolina, Livingston is the fourth child in a very musical family that includes Alex, James, Kate and Hugh. Livingston recorded his first record at 18 and has continued to create well-crafted, introspective and original songs that have earned him listeners worldwide.
From top-forty hits “I Will Be in Love with You” and “I’ll Come Running,” to “I Can Dream of You” and “Boatman” both recorded by his brother James, Livingston’s creative output has continued unabated. His musical knowledge has inspired a varied repertoire, and he is equally at home with a range of musical genres—folk, pop, gospel, jazz—and from upbeat storytelling to touching ballads.
Livingston has never stopped performing since those early coffeehouse days, touring with major artists such as Linda Ronstadt, Jimmy Buffet and Jethro Tull, and he maintains a busy concert schedule of over eighty shows a year. He is a natural performer, peppering his shows with personal stories, anecdotes and ineffable warmth that connect him to his fans. His relaxed on-stage presence belies the depth of his musical knowledge, and fans might just as often be treated to a classic Gershwin or something from the best of Broadway.
As a full professor at Berklee College of Music since 1989, Livingston shares his experiences and knowledge of professional touring with young artists, just beginning to hone their skills. His course, Stage Performance (I and II) is one of the most popular at the College, and it gives him the ideal forum in which to impart the lessons learned through his own career to a new generation of musicians. His book, Stage Performance, is drawn from those classes will be available this fall.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Perfect Pitch deadline soon!

PERFECT PITCH CONTEST: A chance to flex your songwriting muscles and write original songs for some of Berklee's top vocalists. The contest results in a massive concert with the school's best performers, rhythm section, and audience text-voting to determine the winners who will receive free professional demos! CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT.

YOUR SONGS are needed for an upcoming album!

Very dear friend of mine, and wonderful demo singer Christina Pasqualone has asked me to reach out to you great songwriters in hopes of finding a fantastic song or two that she can record on her upcoming album.  Christina was one of the winners of the club's very first songwriting contest, and has continued to be a friend of the club ever since, so send her your best stuff!

This is a great opportunity to write for an artist that you're going to wish you had access to in 5 years.. so take advantage of it now!

and her message is below:

I am looking for 2 more songs to be released on my debut solo Album! I wanted to reach out to the students of Berklee because f the known amazing songwriting talent! My genre is 'Power Pop', along the artists of Celine Dion, Leona Lewis, Kelly Clarkson, etc.

Here are some examples of artists and songs that would be similar to what I am looking for:

Celine Dion:Taking chances or Eyes on Me

Kelly Clarkson: Already Gone 

Leona Lewis: Bleeding Love or I Will Be 

Charice: In Love So Deep

Any tempo would be great, just looking for an AMAZING SONG! Great lyrics, catchy melody,VOCAL RANGE (if possible) CAN BE ABOUT ANYTHING (inspirational would be great :) )

If everyone would submit:
- A mp3 of the song (can be very raw)

Deadline: Nov.8th

Send the song to: cpsongsubmit@gmail.com

Singer/Songwriters needed to perform!

Emily Dale and Kayleigh Mill, the masterminds spearheading this term's "Sweets for Songwriters" bake sales, are looking for performers to play during the bake sales. We'd love to attract attention to your songwriting and, more importantly, to our cupcakes, brownies, and rice krispies treats!

If you'd like to take an hour slot on any Tuesday anytime between 11 and 2pm, please contact emily at edale1@berklee.net and let us know.

Performances will be at the Mez Table in 150, and will be acoustic.  Thanks!

Mike "I Can't Make You Love Me" Reid comes to Berklee!

Mike Reid, seen here (right) with Gary Burr, being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, will be visiting Berklee to give us an amazing week of clinics, performances, and classes!  Mike's Bio is below -- he has had success as a professional football player, wrote "I Can't Make You Love Me" for Bonnie Raitt, has been doing quite a bit of Musical Theatre writing lately, and is overall an INCREDIBLY COMPELLING SPEAKER.

Mike, along with Kyle Lehning, are the perennial keynote speakers to close out the Berklee Nashville trip.  EVERYONE walks away from their talk feeling better about their future, their songwriting, and themselves. Attend at least ONE of the following clinics, or I will personally call your mother and tell her that you didn't.


Mon (10/25) 921 Boylston, Room 511 6pm-8:30pm:  Writing for Musical Theatre

Tue (10/26) 1140 Boylston, Room 1A  1pm-3pm:  Writing for Musical Theatre

Weds (10/27) 1140 Boylston, Room 1A  1pm-3pm:  The Writers Journey (Informative, Inspiring, and at least one more "I" adjective that I can't think of right now.)

Thurs (10/28) 1140 Boylston, Room 2E, 9-11am: Business of Songwriting

Thurs (10/28) 921 Boylston, David Friend Recital Hall, 1pm: Live Performance

Thurs (10/28) 150 Mass Ave, Room 118* 6-830pm: Master Class 

* Room 118 is subject to change. Please check for updates.


He has been the recipient of ASCAPS' "Songwriter of the Year" award and one of the many songs that Milsap recorded, "Stranger In My House", has earned a Grammy award. Among the other songs that Mike has composed are "I Can't Make You Love Me" (Raitt, Michael and Prince), "My Strongest Weakness" and "To Be Loved By You" (Judd), "In This Life" (Raye and Midler), "Sometimes I Wonder Why" (Baker), "Forever's As Far As I'll Go" (Alabama) and "Everywhere" (McGraw).

The opera, entitled "Different Fields", received its premiere in New York City at the New Victory Theatre on Broadway.  "Different Fields" has since been produced in Memphis and Nashville and by The Cincinnati Opera. Reid and Schlesinger's musical entitled "The Ballad of Little Jo" received a 1998 Richard Rodgers Foundation Award and its first production in September 2000 at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater won the Joseph Jefferson award for Best New Musical.

Pat Pattison Epic Phrasing Masterclass!

Berklee's own world-famous Pat Pattison is honoring the club with a 2 hour masterclass! 

Date: TUES, NOV 2nd
Time: 8pm-10pm
Location: 150 Mass Ave, room 118

If you haven't heard Pat speak yet, it's probably because you weren't listening hard enough. He literally wrote the book on lyric writing.

This masterclass will be focusing on Phrasing. If you care at all about how your lyrics come across when you perform them, IT IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that you attend this seminar.

Phrasing: The Body Language of Your Song. This seminar will give you important keys to phrasing your lyrics for the most impact and support of meaning. Working with rhythms and placements, you'll learn how to make sure that the line, like body language, helps to really deliver the emotion you intend. This is another "can't miss" seminar -- it's bound to take your writing to the next level. 

Manager looking for Songwriters!

Steven Gringer -- Music Business student, and Marketing/Promotions consultant for our Perfect Pitch concert -- is looking for YOUR talent!  Check the below message from Steven:

"I am looking for songwriters interested in collaborating with  producers, other writers, and vocalists in the following genres: Pop( in the style of Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, etc.) R&B( Jason Derulo, Akon) and Country( Taylor Swift, Lady A, Keith Urban, etc.).

I have started an Artist Development & Management company. We will be representing artists, songwriters, and producers. It all comes down to great songs, so we are looking for songwriters who we can help pitch songs for major recording acts and also have work with developing acts. My business partner and I are extremely passionate about developing the next top acts here at Berklee while also developing the next big songwriters as well."

Contact Steven here:
Steven Gringer
Artist Management & Development 

Want to teach guitar for songwriters?

Friend of the club Ivan Chopik is looking for student guitar instructors with a specific focus/skillset on guitar for songwriting & singer/songwriter guitar techniques.  If you're interested in recording an instructional DVD of your guitar techniques, please read on!

Guitar Messenger (www.guitarmessenger.com) is an online music magazine dedicated to providing the highest quality and most in-depth guitar related interviews, lessons, news, and reviews possible. In preparation for the launch of our new subscription section and instructional series in Spring 2011, we are looking for a talented musician to record a DVD with that would be centered around presenting methods and guitar techniques used by Singer/Songwriters.

This is a great opportunity from both a business and promotional perspective. For more information or to apply, please contact Ivan Chopik at ivan@guitarmessenger.com.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Clinic this Thursday (21st) in 1W, 1pm-2pm.

WHERE: 1140 Boylston, Room 1W
WHEN: Oct 21st, 1pm-2pm
WHAT: Songwriting Clinic

The Songwriting faculty: Pat Pattison, Susan Cattaneo, Scarlet Keys, Jimmy Kachulis, Stan Swiniarsky, Jon Aldrich, Jimmy Kachulis and Chair, Jack Perricone, will listen to selected student songs and comment on them and work with them to make them better and better.Come and observe this clinic done in a master class format.

Monday Night Meeting

We've got a meeting tonight! If you'd like to play a song, please email your lyrics or chords or mp3 or whatever you got to: berkleesongwritersclub@gmail.com

WHEN: 8pm-10pm, every Monday of the school-term

WHERE: 150 Mass Ave, Room 118. 

WHAT: Student critique of songs.

I CAN'T PLAY: We still love you! And you can still come and watch, and give feedback -- we value feedback from "That song made me feel bouncy" to "Try a second inversion V7/V chord going into the bridge." Even if you can't play you're still--

--NO I MEAN I REALLY CAN'T PLAY. LIKE ONE TIME MY GRANDPARENTS EVEN TOLD ME TO STOP PLAYING IT WAS SO BAD: That's totally fine, but maybe just don't invite your grandparents then?

: We have a piano, anything else is up to you. 

I CAN'T MAKE IT TONIGHT. I HAVE A BAD COUGH/BAD HAIR/MY HAIR HAS A BAD COUGH. CAN I COME NEXT WEEK?: I'm pretty sure "my hair has a bad cough" isn't a real excuse. But either way, you may come as often or as infrequently as you like -- there are no penalties for not coming, except all of the awesome opportunities you miss out on.

OKAY MY HAIR'S COUGH IS FEELING BETTER. I'LL SEE YOU THERE. WHAT'S THE INTRO QUESTION FOR TONIGHT: Aha! I knew you were lying! Tonight's intro question is.... going to be revealed tonight!  
See you there!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Claude Kelly: The Club says Thank You!

Hey Songwriters!  Thanks so much for coming out and making both of Thursday's clinics so memorable! Claude said he had a great time, and mentioned wanting to come back to do this again!  We want to make sure we stay fresh in his mind, so I'd like you all to take a minute to write out a sentence or two of "Thank You" that I will mail along to him!

I'd like to include any photos that you all have taken, and any thank you notes that you have.  Please e-mail any thoughts to berkleesongwritersclub@gmail.com while it's still fresh in your minds -- the more excited you are, the happier he'll be to come back!  

Just mention what you liked about the clinics, or if he inspired you in any ways.  I'll be putting together a photo album for him, too, so any great shots you got of you, him, or friends -- even if it's just you waiting outside the clinic excited to get in -- please send along ASAP!


Support the Amazing Everlasting Songwriting Project!!!

A recent Berklee grad and great friend of mine, Danna Richards, has started down a tremendously exciting road. She's writing 365 songs in 365 days, and I couldn't be happier for her!  But my happiness isn't enough, (I know, right??) she needs your help! Here's what she has to say:

Hey friends,

I am Danna Richards, fellow Berklee Student, and I am writing/recording and posting a song every day for the next year in a project I'm calling "My Nine to Five".  Today I'm on Song #111 and am determined to make it the rest of the way.  In search of new inspiration as well as promoting, I am taking my project global by visiting a new place each month and writing based on my experiences.  If you are interested in watching the videos, you can see them ALL on my youtube page or my blog.  I am also trying to raise $16,000 dollars in order to make the trip possible and if my project interests you and you want to help out (depending on how much you pledge you get prizes in return), even a couple bucks would be a HUGE help!  The link for my youtube/blog and kickstarter (donation) site are below.

Check out this amazing project on YouTube,  find all the songs on Danna's blog , or donate on kickstarter!:    

Get your music on TV!

I've been asked by Javier Samayoa, executive producer of the shows "Berklee Studio Sessions" and "Berklee Canta en Espanol", to provide some tracks to be used as "background music" for an upcoming edition of "Berklee Studio Sessions."

There is NO RESTRICTION on genre -- death metal, indie, pop, electro, classical, instrumental, acapella -- whatever.

There is, however, a VERY HIGH BAR FOR SOUND QUALITY. If your recording is not professionally performed, produced, recorded, and mixed, DO NOT SEND.  If your recording is not radio ready, DO NOT SEND. If you recorded it in Garage Band, DO NOT SEND.

If you have a  polished, high quality recording of music that you wrote, please DO SEND ONLY ONE MP3 -- YOUR BEST -- to:

Thanks, and good luck!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Singer/SW Concert Winners Announced!

We'd like to extend congratulations to the winners of the club's Singer/Songwriter Concert!  The show will take place at 1140 Boylston Street, Room 1A (Lawrence & Alma Berk Recital Hall),  on October 18, 2010 4pm-5pm.

Danielle Deckard
Sam Shrieve
Joren van der Voort
Molly Brown
Brittany Mahrer
Joshua Penslar
Alexi von Guggenberg
Nikolas Metaxas

Expect to hearing some FANTASTIC songs -- we had over 150 songs submitted, and these are the top 8 as chosen by a panel of your peers! See you there!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Berklee Songwriter makes it big, comes home to spread the news!

Emily Shackleton Clinic

Emily Shackleton Clinic

Thursday, October 7, 2010, 1:00 p.m.
Berk Recital Hall
1140 Boylston Street
Boston MA 02215 [Map]
A clinic on Nashville staff songwriting by Emily Shakelton. The Berklee alumna has been a signed writer at Bug Music for the past three years. She was the first prize winner in BMI's John Lennon contest and was a winner in just about every contest she entered at Berklee. Her song, "Dream Big," was sung by David Cook on American Idol. This is a great clinic in which to to learn what it takes to become a Nashville staff writer.

#1 Hit Country writer - Thursday Night @ 939!

  • Marcus Hummon, tomorrow night at Cafe 939.


    The SongCircle

    Thursday, October 7, 2010, 8:00 p.m.
    Cafe 939
    939 Boylston Street
    Boston MA 02115 [Map]
    Join the SongCircle for an amazing night of original music from some of today's best songwriters featuring the talents of Lucius, Suzie Brown, Tubby Love, AJ, Left on Red, and Grammy winner Marcus Hummon.
    Join the SongCircle for an amazing night of original music from some of today's best songwriters featuring the talents of Lucius, Suzie Brown, Tubby Love, AJ, Left on Red, and Grammy winner Marcus Hummon.

Hit pop writer comes to Berklee! Don't Sleep!

Claude has written the #1 hits for Kelly Clarkson ("My Life Would Suck Without You") and Britney Spears ("Circus") as well as songs for Miley Cyrus, Jason Derulo, Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, and many more.


Claude Kelly Clinic

Thursday, October 14, 2010, 1:00 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center
136 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston MA 02115 [Map]
Claude Kelly
Songwriter Claude Kelly '02 can't remember how he came to be nicknamed the "studio beast," but when you get a moniker like that, it's not something you dispute, right?
"I've been trying to figure out where that came from for years," says the wunderkind, who really hasn't had long to mull over it anyway. Check the math: in just seven years, Kelly went from college grad to writing #1 hits for Kelly Clarkson ("My Life Would Suck Without You") and Britney Spears ("Circus") and giving Chrisette Michele one of those enduring, career-defining ballads ("Blame It On Me") that helped send her album straight to the top of the charts in its first week.
So yes, "studio beast" fits. But "chameleon" might work too. Kelly does it all—from pop to r&b to rock and soul—and the versatility is no doubt the effect of growing up on Manhattan's Lower East Side. "I was hearing reggae and super-soulful stuff like Marvin Gaye and pop and rock. I think people are surprised I can do it, but I really genuinely did grow up listening to it all." By age two, he was playing the piano and by seven, the flute. His single mother, a nurse who moved to the States from Jamaica, made sure Kelly's talents didn't go to waste. "She kept me busy," he says. "There was swimming and dance—activities every single day, church on Sunday, and back at it on Monday. There was no time to linger in the streets, ever."
He can also credit his diverse ear and writing skills to his travels.  Instead of giving him new Jordan sneakers when they hit stores, his mom took him on weeklong jaunts to foreign environments, including the Caribbean, Italy, and Canada. Looking back, he says, "It was really helpful for me to see different parts of the world. You realize life goes on outside of our bubble."
Kelly's mother was serious about his education too. He attended the noted private school Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, and he performed around New York with the New York Boys Choir. Upon graduation, Kelly decided to formally study music at Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music. Eager to begin his career in music, Kelly doubled up on coursework and completed his degree in three years.
Kelly landed his first song on a compilation album for the popular Japanese clothing line, A Bathing Ape.  In 2006, his song "Daddy's Little Girl" landed on Frankie J's album Priceless. It wasn't long before Akon heard about the emerging talent and in 2007, the year Kelly signed to Warner Chappell Publishing, Akon suggested that Kelly write some of his music.
Kelly handed in three songs. Leona Lewis took "Forgive Me," Whitney Houston got another, and none other than Michael Jackson claimed the song "Hold My Hand"—a major accomplishment and a testament to Kelly's ability.
Yet Kelly song placement with Jackson became bittersweet when the icon died. "Hold My Hand" has since leaked, but Kelly will of course never get to hear MJ sing the final version of his song live, or tell him how honored he was. "Michael is my all time favorite artist, so the fact that he sang one of my records is an honor within itself."
And that was just his beginning. Kelly has since been tapped to write songs for some of music's biggest names, including R. Kelly, Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, and Toni Braxton, as well as buzzed-about newcomers like Melanie Fiona and popular American Idol rocker Adam Lambert. With each turn, like creating Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA," which debuted at #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 and became iTunes' #1 download, Kelly displays a knack for working across genres. Many great songwriters master a particular sound, but Kelly flows from r&b to pop to rock and soul with ease.
Among the artists endorsing Kelly as a new phenom is Whitney Houston. "Claude is an accomplished writer," she says. "He's experienced. He knows production, he knows harmony. He can sing his butt off."
As he continues to shape the future of music, Kelly is giving back: he was well known for his MySpace blog posts, which dispense all kinds of advice and living tips—not just to up-and-coming musicians but people in general. They've become so popular he'll soon be moving those, as well as his v-logs, to his own website. "The blog is my way of giving back," he says.  "Charity is important to me and I want to do more."
At a time when many contemporary songwriters are "stamping" tracks with sonic insignias to advertise themselves, Kelly instead prides himself on coaching singers to do their best work, and treats each song as a journey.
"I think I have a gift, but what keeps getting me work is the attention that I give to the artists themselves. I really pay attention to what songs make the artist better. It's not about me—It's about respecting the art, and making the best songs whether it takes five minutes, five hours, or five days. Ultimately I'm there to make everyone sound better."
He's a songwriter deeply devoted to his craft, determined to put the pursuit of quality over everything else. "To me, a song is supposed to take you to a special place . . . The reason we love music is because it can take you to place where you were heartbroken, or want to dance, or were in love for the first time. As soon as the song comes on you should feel that vibe and get lost in it."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How to (not) make your first million!

Do you want to be called for gigs? Here's why saying "Yes" will get you so much more than you think:

When you say "No" to someone, you're also saying "No" to everyone they've ever worked with.   A friend of mine who is into playing bass, told me a story about his growth as a musician. At one point, when he had a lot going on in his life, he felt like he couldn't take on a few gigs that he wanted to.

"Someone I hadn't worked with before asked me to play bass on a gig that I was interested in, and I almost said No," he told me, "but then I realized that if I say no,  I'm not only saying no to him, but I'm saying no to everybody he would have recommended me to."   

As it turns out, the first gig was a blast, and more importantly, he ended up being able to say "Yes" to some really awesome gigs as a result of saying "Yes" to the first gig.  Keep in mind that, for the other gigs,  he wouldn't even have been asked to play if he had said "No" to the first one.   

Every "No" you see becomes a thousand more that you don't.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

International Songwriting Competition Deadline soon!

Deadline is 10/6/2010. Lots of categories, lots of prizes ($150,000 up)  Check more info here:

Also don't forget about The Perfect Pitch, and our Singer/Songwriter contests.