Industry Publishers to Students: Let the Song Shine

By 
Katie Gibson
October 29, 2019

At a recent song screening, alumni Benjamin Groff and Amanda Samii listened to original songs by students and offered feedback and production tips. 

Groff and Samii listened to songs and offered feedback in real time.
Image by Adam Ridhwan

Sharing an original song with fellow students, not to mention industry professionals, can be an intimidating prospect. But Berklee students recently had the chance to do just that at a song screening hosted in the Red Room at Cafe 939. Alumni Amanda Samii B.M. ’09, vice president of creative at Kobalt, and Benjamin Groff ’93, a longtime publisher at Kobalt who now runs his own publishing company, listened to songs and offered advice in a rapid-fire two-hour session. 

Samii and Groff offered specific feedback on each song—musical style, production, vocals—but also shared tips and encouragement that appealed to the entire room. 

On Networking

“You’re at a place with an amazing pool of talent,” Samii told students. “You can find talented people to help you with a demo or a project.” Groff agreed. “I wish I’d done more networking when I was here,” he said. 

On First Impressions

“Sometimes I'll send a song [to publishers] without any names attached to get people's honest reactions,” Samii said. “Sometimes people get hung up on whether there’s an A-plus songwriter attached to a project. But what matters is whether it’s a good song.”

On Specializing

“You don't have to be great at both lyrics and melody,” Samii explained. “There are people who specialize in both. Take something you're excellent at and use it to your advantage as a songwriter.”

On Production and Timelessness

“An amazing song will always be an amazing song, even if it sits on your hard drive for five years,” Samii told the students. “The thing that will age it [in demo form] will be the production style. So either wow us with your production skills, or really strip back on that, and just let us hear the song.” 

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