Songwriting in Amsterdam: JMC Students Study Abroad

As a partner of the Berklee College of Music, JMC Music students got the opportunity to attend the Haarlem Conservatory, just outside Amsterdam.

The international Writers Camp invites 15 schools from around the world, to take part in writing, recording, and producing songs. Students collaborate alongside eachother, to work with prominent music publishers and labels, including BMG/Talpa, Warner Chappell, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, CTM Publishing, and Armada Music.


This year in October/November 2017, students Michael D’Ambrosio and Yonatan Yudistira went along to the songwriting camp with other fellow JMC Students. Here’s what they thought… 

How was the trip?!

Michael: The trip was great! It was the first time leaving Australia and was awesome experiencing a different culture.

Yonatan: It was a really interesting trip. I met a lot of people with different backgrounds and musical abilities. It was a bit intimidating at first because I did not know anyone, but I think music brought everyone together.

Michael: On the first day we had dinner with everyone involved in the camp, great meet and greet. The next day was the briefing, we met all the organisers, were assigned our groups and were given a pitch. From this we had 3 days to write, record, produce a song and then submit to A&R's from various publishing/record labels. After this we had the chance to listen to everyone’s work and had a group discussion on what was great or not so great about the songs submitted, and how to better tailor them to the pitch (importance of the strong message and melodic hooks for the song to be considered for pitching). This discussion alone gave us all great insight into what make a great commercial recording, and what is necessary in presenting a great song pitch. 

What were your favourite things about the trip?

Yonatan: Learning more about music and production, and meeting people in the music industry from different cultures.

Michael:  Definitely meeting and working with artists from around the globe, building on contacts, and creating networks. 

How do you think it has helped improve your skills and future prospects in the industry?

Michael:  It’s given me a better understanding of the importance of breaking down a brief and writing specifically for a pitch. Most of the songs written were for already established and breaking artists which have a very particular sound and style. Some of the pitches were very detailed, some very brief. It is very important to understand the artists previous work to follow up with a song that has a strong message relevant to their direction.

Yonatan: It’s helped with the way I write my songs and collaborate, and the way I see the music industry. It taught me how to collaborate with people from different cultures and different styles of music. The music industry is very big, and they are always looking for something fresh. Even if it sometimes seems like it doesn’t work, it is great to try out new things. People will get bored of the same sounds, just like that synth pluck everyone used this year.

Find out more about studying Songwriting, and our Study Abroad options including London, L.A and Japan!