Young Woman Starts Collaboration Website for Song Writers

Lisa Occhino started the SongwriterLink.com website, a platform for songwriters to find co-writers and collaborate.

Lisa Occhino, 21, has launched SongwriterLink. (contributed photo)
Lisa Occhino, 21, has launched SongwriterLink. (contributed photo)

SongwriterLink.com sent this news release (slightly changed here) on Sunday announcing the creation of a website that helps song writers connect with co-writers and collaborate:

Lisa Occhino, a 21-year old from Stamford, CT, has created a website launched the beta version of her start-up company, SongwriterLink. It’s currently the only website of its kind that uses matching algorithms to foster collaboration among songwriters from around the world. 

SongwriterLink works similarly to dating websites, but it's strictly for songwriting collaboration. Members can send each other collaboration requests, instantly co-write through video chat right on the website, and even receive match notifications when the algorithm finds two members who have good potential as co-writing partners.

Occhino came up with the concept for SongwriterLink in fall 2010 during her first semester at Berklee College of Music. She completed the business plan during her second semester, developed the idea and built the website for the next three years, and released the official beta version by the time she graduated summa cum laude with a music business/management degree in December 2013. 

“I was inspired to create SongwriterLink because as a songwriter myself who was looking for co-writers to work with, I couldn’t believe that a tool like this didn’t already exist for the songwriting community,” says Lisa. “So rather than trying to search through messy co-writing forums or waiting around until someone else built it, I decided to just take matters into my own hands and build it myself.”

After extensive research, she discovered that very complex coding was required to build a website with integrated video chat and matching engine technology. When web developers quoted her a minimum of $80,000 to build the site, Lisa quickly realized that she did not want to start her venture by taking out loans or giving away a percentage of ownership to investors.

Instead, she decided to go the do-it-yourself route: she compared dozens of open-source community software options, chose the best one to use for her website’s basic foundation, and taught herself the necessary coding to fully customize its design and functionalities.

In between her undergraduate studies, her position as editor-in-chief of The Berklee Groove, and writing and performing her own music, Lisa dedicated countless hours to developing SongwriterLink.

Even though she encountered a number of complicated glitches – including a time when the entire site went down and she had to rebuild it almost entirely from scratch – she was determined to do whatever it took to launch the beta site before she graduated.

While Lisa single-handedly maintains all aspects of the startup company and personally built the website from the ground up, she received help with beta tester recruitment from Berklee’s Business Startup Initiative (BSI) last spring.

Led by music business professor Martin Dennehy, the BSI team consisted of fellow music business students who selected SongwriterLink out of several submissions as one of two projects that showed the most promise.

Just a few weeks before the beta launch, Lisa received the honor of being asked to speak on Berklee’s “Evening With Entrepreneurs” panel alongside Jayce Varden (co-founder/COO of PledgeMusic) and other successful entrepreneurs.

She also received Berklee’s Joseph Smith Scholarship in recognition of her entrepreneurship, was awarded the Songwriting & Composition Scholarship, and was the first place winner of the BMI Foundation’s 15th annual John Lennon Scholarship, a national songwriting competition.

“My goal in life has always been to find a way to unify my two biggest passions: entrepreneurship and songwriting,” Lisa explains. “Running a startup entirely on your own takes a crazy amount of time and dedication -- and it’s especially hard when you have a full-time job on top of that -- but SongwriterLink has been incredibly fulfilling for me because it combines my passions in such a perfect way.”

During her final semester at Berklee, Lisa accepted an offer from Sonicbids, the leading international platform for bands to book gigs, to come on board as its first managing editor. She began working full-time at the company in January and dedicates her nights and weekends to SongwriterLink.

Lisa currently has partnerships with various venues and songwriting associations in the works, and she plans on rolling out a paid platform where members can connect with professional songwriters for critiques and mentoring in the coming months. She intends on launching the full, public version of the site later this year.

Songwriters who would like to gain free, exclusive access to SongwriterLink in exchange for providing their feedback can submit their email address at www.songwriterlink.com to automatically receive a beta tester invitation.


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