John Legend Teaches Songwriting

The Bottom Line

This MasterClass covers the basics of songwriting while touching on a few advanced topics. Legend also talks about his creative process and how you can take inspiration from it and improve your songwriting skills.

So if you’re a songwriter or musician looking to land a job in the music industry, this MasterClass is a good starting point. However, it can only teach you so much. Most songwriting lessons will come from getting your feet wet, writing many songs, and staying consistent.


  • You’ll learn about Legend’s creative process
  • The visual graphics ensure that complex topics are easy to understand
  • The workbook contains real-life exercises
  • He shows you how to perform in front of a live audience
  • Each chapter is around five minutes long, making it easy to digest


  • It assumes that you’re somewhat literate in music making
  • You’ll need recording and editing software

A songwriter is an individual who writes songs and can also be called a composer. The pressure to produce popular hits has tended to distribute responsibility between a number of people. Popular culture songs may be written by group members or by staff writers: songwriters directly employed by music publishers. Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers. Furthermore, songwriters no longer need labels to support their music. Technology has advanced to the point where anyone can record at home. The old-style apprenticeship approach to learning how to write songs is being supplemented by some universities and colleges and rock schools. A knowledge of modern music technology, songwriting elements, and business skills are seen as necessary requirements to make a songwriting career. Several music colleges offer songwriting diplomas and degrees with music business modules. Since songwriting and publishing royalties can be a substantial source of income, particularly if a song becomes a hit record, legally, in the US, songs written after 1934 may only be copied by the authors. The legal power to grant these permissions may be bought, sold or transferred. This is governed by international copyright law. Professional songwriters can either be employed to write either the lyrics or the music directly for or alongside a performing artist, or they present songs to A&R, publishers, agents and managers for consideration. Song pitching can be done on a songwriter’s behalf by their publisher or independently using tip sheets like RowFax, the MusicRow publication, and SongQuarters. Skills associated with song-writing include entrepreneurism and creativity.