COURSE OVERVIEW

If you’re passionate about charting singles, and have a strong awareness of the commercial music scene, the MA Commercial Songwriting and Production programme will prepare you for a successful and sustainable career as a commercial songwriter in the 2020s.

Whether you’re a songwriter, songwriting producer or creative artist, you’ll cover everything you need to know about creating the best commercial songs possible, and getting them to market in an ethical and innovative way.

Creating and producing at least one song per week per module, you’ll put your creative songwriting process to the test, as you write to brief and receive critical feedback from ICMP’s expert team of highly experienced songwriters, producers and music business professionals. You’ll also learn how to analyse your own work, and that of your fellow MA Commercial Songwriting and Production students, as you immerse yourself in the craft, techniques and sonic worlds of both songwriting and production.

Created with entrepreneurship firmly at its core, you’ll develop a strong understanding of how the modern music industry operates on this course, covering everything from marketing strategy, promotion and business skills, to A&R pitches, personal development plans and publishing. You’ll learn all the necessary steps to market yourself as a commercially minded writer–producer, as well as how to innovatively and ethically make sure your songs are heard by the largest number of people possible.

During your intensive year with us, you’ll take part in collaborative production skills workshops, interactive music business seminars and a programme of advanced songcraft technique. You’ll also study the contexts in which songs are conceived and produced, and the platforms used to shared them with the world.

Showcasing the perfect blend of creativity and technical production skills, you’ll learn to create songs using in-the-box (ITB) production across a selection of digital audio workstations (DAWs), including Ableton Live, Logic Pro and Pro Tools. Many of your classes will take place at the high-tech SSL and Audient studios on ICMP’s impressive Queen’s Park campus, where you’ll get to grips with industry-standard software, equipment and plugins.

Across your MA studies, you’ll also be encouraged to connect and collaborate with talented students on your songwriting and production masters course, as well as those across other ICMP courses and disciplines.

The year concludes with an assignment tailored to your personal and professional interests, where you’ll complete a large-scale body of creative work in the form of a commercial songwriting portfolio. Honing your songcraft and studio production skills, you’ll work with an expert commercial songwriting supervisor to develop an album, collection of co-writes or other song-based production which cements your unique songwriting and production identity. You’ll graduate as a highly capable songwriter and producer, with the drive, autonomy and production know-how to work successfully in the commercial songwriting industry, plus an impressive selection of creative output highlighting your skills and talent for all to see.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Financial support for postgraduate vocal masters courses is available to students studying at ICMP.

Eligible students on designated ICMP postgraduate courses can access the postgraduate masters loan in the same way, and at the same value, as they could at a publicly funded provider. Individuals can borrow up to £12,167. If you opt to study part-time, your loan will be split into two instalments over the two years of study. 

Course Fees | Full Terms & Conditions 

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Successful completion of the MA Commercial Songwriting and Production course leads to the award of a Masters degree by The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance.*

*Currently Subject to Validation, we expect this process to be completed in Spring 2024

 

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Key facts

  • Learn to write and produce commercially successful songs.
  • Develop an impressive songwriting portfolio, creating at least one song per week, per module.
  • Gain a thorough entrepreneurial understanding of the songwriting business as you learn how to promote, market and distribute your music.
  • Become empowered to manage your own rights.
  • Craft songs using in-the-box production/DAWs.
  • Record in ICMP’s high-tech industry-standard music studios.
  • Receive critical feedback on your work from ICMP songwriting tutors and fellow students.
  • Collaborate with fellow students and build an impressive global music scene network.
  • Connect with the wider London music industry to showcase your songwriting at top events like ICMP’s Songwriters’ Circle.
  • Study as a one-year full-time or two-year part-time programme (UK students only).

COURSE DETAILS

Modules

Throughout this MA Commercial Songwriting and Production postgraduate course you will study a carefully curated set of core modules designed to equip you with the music and business tools needed to write and produce hit records across genres. The course culminates with an assignment tailored to your personal and professional interests, where you’ll complete a large-scale body of creative work in the form of a commercial songwriting portfolio.

Music Production for Songwriters

Across this module, you’ll learn a range of music production techniques while exploring creative intention and process as a commercially minded songwriter and producer. Through practical work, discussion and self-directed exercises, you’ll examine and critique your own work, identifying areas you’d like to cultivate and explore. Pushing boundaries is actively encouraged as you study topics such as creative production processes and idea generation and organisation.

  • Studio music production
  • Digital audio workstations (DAWs)
  • In-the-box music production
  • Creative music production experimentation
  • Song drafting and development

The Business of Songwriting

In the music industry, commercial songwriting is where art meets business. This dynamic, industry-focused module teaches the foundational skills and knowledge required to navigate the intricacies of the competitive commercial songwriting and production market. From rights management and business planning, to data analytics and venture creation, you’ll cover both creative and business-oriented approaches to songwriting, while also honing your songcraft. The module culminates with a written assignment or presentation, personalised to your career aspirations, which highlights key concepts learned to date and maps out your strategic plans for personal or business growth.

  • How to market your songs effectively, innovatively and ethically
  • Entrepreneurial capability in songwriting
  • How to build collaborative songwriting and production teams
  • Strategic thinking
  • Business planning
  • A&R pitches

Songcraft

In this module, you’ll delve into the craft and discipline of track-based writing, with a detailed analysis of pop lyric creation practice and technical knowledge of pop hook/lyric construction. As a class, you’ll analyse key aspects of songcraft and evaluate how it can be used to achieve distinctive styles and aesthetics in your work. You’ll also explore a range of genres and create many songs to brief – applying the techniques and methods you’ve studied in your work – before presenting your tracks for group listening. You’ll complete the module having developed a professional level of expertise in your songwriting thinking and practice, along with a heightened understanding of musical and sonic identity.

  • The creative process of pop songwriting
  • Song mapping
  • Pyramiding
  • Rhyme types
  • Hook generation

Commercial Repertoire Development

Focusing on the overtly commercial aspects of pop music production, you’ll refine your repertoire development skills across this highly practical module. Choosing from a range of live industry projects, you’ll make tracks to brief for different artists across varied genres, as well as completing your own creative output. In a workshop environment, you’ll discuss and develop the strategic side of your songwriting, alongside the music.

  • Writing to brief
  • Artist identity
  • Music production
  • Songcraft

Commercial Songwriter Portfolio

The final module of the Commercial Songwriting and Production masters course is an opportunity to bring together your research and development work into one industry-standard portfolio of work as a calling card to industry. Across Semester C, you’ll work with a hand-picked commercial songwriting supervisor to develop your voice as a writer/producer. You’ll navigate many drafts before arriving at your final portfolio and leaving with a large song-based body of work, typically an album or portfolio of co-writes.

  • Artist voice development
  • Collaborating and co-writing
  • Working with a supervisor
  • Commercial songwriting portfolio development

TEACHING, LEARNING AND ASSESSMENT

Across the course, you’ll be taught at our facilities in  Kilburn and Queen's Park, using tech suites, live rooms and our in-house music studio facilities, as well as lecture rooms and classrooms. Whenever you need to rehearse and record your music, you’ll have access to these facilities outside of class hours while you remain a student at ICMP.

You’ll be taught through a variety of teaching and learning methods such as lectures, performance workshops, small group tutorials, music technology workshops and one-to-one tuition. 

Postgraduate students will experience on-site face-to-face classes as the default position. These will be supported by online supervisions/classes on the modules where this works effectively and where there is no detriment to the student experience.

You’ll have access to the Student Services Department for support and advice regarding welfare, personal development, finance, safeguarding and more. You can also speak with our Professional Development team at ‘The Hub', who will provide you with bespoke music industry careers advice and access to unique industry opportunities.

TEACHING AND LEARNING

Across the MA Commercial Songwriting and Production degree programme, you’ll be taught in lectures, seminars and practical workshops, as appropriate.

When not attending seminars, lectures or other timetabled sessions, you’ll be expected to continue independent learning via self-study. Typically, this will involve reading books and articles, completing individual and group projects, preparing coursework assignments and researching in the library. Your independent learning is supported by a variety of exceptional facilities, including our Learning Resource Centre, well-equipped tech suites and excellent performance and practice rooms.

 

 

ASSESSMENT

All modules are individually assessed through a variety of means, including: performances, recording portfolios, practical exams, paper exams, essays, presentations, reflective commentaries, workbooks and projects.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Students looking to study the MA Commercial Songwriting and Production degree don’t need an undergraduate degree in music, experience with DAWs or the ability to play a musical instrument to apply – just evidence of songwriting experience via their creative work and a good undergraduate degree (2i or above). We welcome applications from established practitioners who are keen to undertake study at the postgraduate level but may not possess the required qualifications. These students may be given credit for their prior study or experience.

International: English language requirement – minimum level B2 of the CEFR. For more information, visit this website.

Please note: International students, who require a visa to study in the UK, are only eligible to study on this course full-time.

When completing the full application form for the MA Commercial Songwriting and Production course, please be aware that you’ll be required to submit an assessment piece, which can be a video, voice recording or essay.

HOW TO APPLY

Please apply via the ‘APPLY NOW’ link below.

If you need help or further advice at any time during the application process, contact our Admissions team who will be happy to assist you.



By phone:
020 7328 0222

By email:
enquiries@icmp.ac.uk

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