Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: songwriting (Page 1 of 7)


The Puzzle of the Music Industry from a Multi-Platinum Songwriter

On November 9th, the Berklee Music Business/Management Department, in collaboration with the Songwriting Department, had the pleasure of hosting Sam Hollander, a multi-platinum songwriter and author of the book 21-Hit Wonder: Flopping My Way to the Top of the Charts. Hollander has written with many artists, including Carole King, Panic! At The Disco, blink-182, Katy Perry, One Direction, and Train. He sat down with Professor Ralph Jacodine (Music Business Department) and Assistant Chair Jonathan Perkins (Songwriting Department) to discuss the ups and downs of his songwriting career. 

As a child, Hollander was constantly listening to music on records, and he eventually decided to pursue a career as a songwriter and producer. As much as he loved creating music, the beginnings of his career did not go as planned. Hollander spoke about his experience attending college at Temple and NYU, getting signed by a record label, and then getting dropped all in his early twenties. Despite this defeat, he was determined to continue chasing music. He wanted to keep creating music until something clicked, so he took on various gigs such as making song remixes, ringtones, and even Kidz Bop Records. He was determined to make at least one hit, because, as Hollander puts it, “If I have 1 hit, I’ll have 100 hits.” His career really took off after he invested in an opportunity to produce, master, and mix for Fall Out Boy. After his work topped the charts and the record went gold, he gained more opportunities to work with artists like We the Kings, blink-182, and Train. He also shared his creative process with the audience, explaining how he gets up early every morning to brainstorm and write new lyrics, melodies, or even just unique song titles. 

Hollander learned a lot throughout the course of his career, and he had lots of wisdom to share with the Berklee community. He talked about music industry trends and advised students to “always keep an eye on where things were progressing and try to stay one step ahead of it.” For the producers, he talked about doing research on the recording artist by watching interviews or reading the press before entering a session. Most importantly, he encouraged solo singer/songwriter students to continue pushing themselves musically, even if it seems like everyone else is succeeding first. In Hollander’s words, “Your moment happens when it’s supposed to happen.” 

Read more about Hollander’s journey in the music industry in his new book, 21-Hit Wonder: Flopping My Way to the Top of the Charts, available on Amazon on December 6th. Sam wrote it to help aspiring musicians, songwriters, and producers learn about survival, endurance, hustle, and the importance of laughing even on the worst days of the journey. He is donating 100% of his book proceeds to the charity, Musicians On Call, a nonprofit that brings live and recorded music to the bed-sides of patients in healthcare facilities. 

Finding the Perfect Narrative with John Mayer

Songwriter Eva CasselMusician/songwriter John Mayer stopped by Berklee on June 16, 2017, to workshop songs from six students in front of a 500-strong crowd. One of those songwriting students, Eva Cassel, shares her experience below.

By Eva Cassel B.M. ’17

Throughout my 21 years of life I have held on to my father’s philosophy: “The most terrifying experiences are the most rewarding.”  This certainly held true when I played an original song of mine called “Pretty Girl” in the spotlight, 500 shadowy faces looking back at me, and the one and only John Mayer casually perched to my right.

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My Afternoon in a Tree House with John Mayer

John Mayer and Callie Sullivan

Image by Kelly Davidson

Musician/songwriter John Mayer stopped by Berklee on June 16, 2017, to workshop songs from six students in front of a 500-strong crowd. One of those songwriting students, Callie Sullivan, shares her experience below.

By Callie Sullivan B.M. ’17

One month ago I was crossing the stage at Agganis Arena. I collected my diploma, shook hands with Berklee President Roger H. Brown, snapped a selfie with Todd Rundgren and Lionel Richie, and was on my way to start the rest of my life. The very next morning I said my goodbyes and left Boston for what I thought would be forever. Little did I know that while I was unpacking my things in my new Nashville, Tennessee, home, I’d get an email from Pat Pattison asking if I’d be willing to come back to play a show with John Mayer. Without even fully processing it all, I had a flight back to Boston.

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My Day with Fame: Workshopping with John Mayer

Charlotte Lessin on stage

Performing the song “Space” for John Mayer.

Musician/songwriter John Mayer stopped by Berklee on June 16, 2017, to workshop songs from six students in front of a 500-strong crowd. One of those songwriting students, Charlotte Lessin, shares her experience below.

By Charlotte Lessin

Getting the chance to meet and perform for John Mayer is a rare and incredible opportunity. I have been a fan of his music for a long time and to be in his company, let alone have the chance to play my own song for him, was actually a little nerve racking. Until three weeks ago I had never imagined that this could happen.

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Inspiration Abounds on the 2017 Nashville Trip

By Abby Anastasio

Nashville skylineWhen the students going on the 2017 Berklee Nashville Trip boarded the bus in Boston, none of us anticipated that our 25-hour journey would include a breakdown and subsequent pit stop at a secluded Waffle House franchise in the small town of Lexington, VA. Even more surprised than all of us were the employees at that location, who were given no warning that 120 hungry, tired college students were about to touch down and make their day interesting. Within minutes, the tiny restaurant filled with deafening chatter, one student had queued up “All Star” by Smash Mouth on the jukebox, and the hashbrowns were flying from the first order until the bus was finally fixed. As funny as it is to look back on all of us invading that Waffle House, the week in Nashville that followed was far less stressfully spontaneous. Having gone on the trip the year prior, I had a vague idea of what I was getting into, but this trip proved to be a very fresh experience in many ways.

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