Two-time Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe-nominated songwriter Allan Rich’s current involvement as an instructor and counselor at Musicians Institute in Hollywood grew out of a very simple truth he learned back in the early 80s, when he was new in town and struggling to have his songs heard: it’s all about making connections.
The Brooklyn native, whose songs have sold over 65 million copies, has penned or co-penned hits for some of the biggest pop stars of the past two decades. “Run To You,” which he wrote with his longtime partner Jud Friedman, was recorded by Whitney Houston and was part of The Bodyguard film soundtrack which sold over 30 million copies; it earned Rich his first Oscar and Grammy nomination. Rich’s hits include Natalie Cole’s “I Live For Your Love,” James Ingram’s #1 “I Don’t Have The Heart,” Kenny Loggins’ “For The First Time” from the Michelle Pfeiffer/George Clooney film “One Fine Day” (which earned the songwriter an Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe nomination) and *NSYNC’s “I Drive Myself Crazy” (from their 10 million selling debut CD).
Other artists recording who have recorded Rich’s songs include Barbra Streisand, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Luther Vandross, Dolly Parton, Patti Labelle, Gladys Knight and Barry Manilow. His and Friedman’s most recent placements have been on new recordings by Toni Braxton, Keb’ Mo’, David Foster protégée Charice and up and coming vocalist Anna Margaret.
Despite this impressive track record, Rich still believes it’s important to get out there and attend events where he can hook up with new artists and A&R people. “You never know when you’ll meet that next person who can turn our latest song into a hit,” he says. He attended an A&R panel at MI, where he met Kenny Kerner, head of the school’s Music Business Program. Rich had been thinking for a while that he was at a point in his career where it would be nice to “give back,” and he told Kerner about his interest in possibly teaching at MI.
“I told him I thought I could bring something important to this party,” Rich says, “and Kenny was open to this idea and told me he had created several songwriting classes and that I should submit a proposal and a bio for consideration. No matter how many years I’ve been in the industry, it’s inspiring to be around up and coming writers and I feel I had a lot of songwriting expertise and real life practical experience to offer them.”
In addition to launching his work as a one on one songwriting counselor for MI students,
Rich made his debut as an MI instructor with three ten week classes during the recently completed Winter Quarter 2010: Fundamentals of Lyric Writing, Lyric Writing for Original Songs (both songwriter courses) and The Songwriters, a weekly “Actor’s Studio” type setup where Rich brings in one big name pop composer each week for an interactive Q&A session on songwriting and the music business. Many of the 23 students in The Songwriters class had come to pursue their musical education at MI from other countries, including India, Guatemala, Panama, Korea and Sweden.
In the lyric writing class, Rich had each student comb through newspapers and magazines for five phrases that might make a good song title; once the students chose one to run with, they worked with the instructor week by week on developing lyrics for a song based on the title. Rich also gave feedback to those students who brought in melodies to work with. The class midterm assignment was writing fresh lyrics to the melody of The Beatles classic “Let It Be.”
The ten hit composers that Rich brought to The Songwriters class include Lindy Robbins (Backstreet Boys’ “Incomplete,” Nick Lachey’s “What’s Left of Me”); Steve Dorff (Kenny Rogers, Anne Murray, Whitney Houston); Robin Lerner (Tim McGraw, Randy Travis, Faith Hill’s “This Kiss”); Shelly Peiken (Christina Aguilera’s “What A Girl Wants,” Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch”); Franne Golde (Selena’s “Dreamin’”, The Commodores, The Pussycat Dolls’ “StickWithYu”); Ry Cumming, a new recording artist discovered by Teresa LaBarbera Whites, who developed Beyonce and Destiny’s Child, Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears; Lauren Christy of the Grammy nominated writing/production team The Matrix (Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” and “I’m With You” and Jason Mraz’s “The Remedy”; Annie Roboff (Faith Hill’s “This Kiss,” Whitney Houston, Bonnie Raitt, Dixie Chicks); Evan Bogart (Rihanna’s “SOS,” Beyonce’s “Halo”), DQ (Beyonce) and Erika Nuri (Fantasia, Brandy) of The Writing Camp; and Rich’s songwriting partner Jud Friedman.
“When I first moved from New York to L.A. to become a songwriter,” Rich says, “I was blown away by how many top name panels there were and how easy it was for an up and comer to make connections and pitch their songs. ASCAP and BMI had them, and there was the Songwriters Resource Service (SRS) and Los Angeles Songwriter’s Showcase. There aren’t as many opportunities for young writers to meet top songwriters and A&R people and showcase their songs. As part of my commitment to give back, I thought MI would be the perfect place to recreate that kind of environment. It was very exciting. My students from other countries had a strong desire to come here and dedicate their time to becoming quality songwriters, and they deserve these opportunities.”
Rich will be teaching his lyric writing class during the spring quarter and will reprise his Songwriters course in the fall with another slate of high level surprise guests. He adds, “I tell my class that they have to learn the rules before they can break them, and I teach the old school perspective on lyric writing combined with today’s more common approach of writing lyrics and melodies to existing tracks. I’ve become a cheerleader for them and am amazed at the level of talent these students have. I’m excited about having the chance to help them along in their careers and realize their dreams.”