From lyrics to instrumentals, Songwriters create tracks that span across all genres of music.
The music world would not function without Songwriters. Responsible for crafting the next big hit, Songwriters spend most of their time in the studio writing, re-writing, and recording songs. Some writers’ songs will ultimately be recorded by established artists, whereas Singer-Songwriters write their own music which they record themselves.
While songwriting can be a rewarding career path both creatively and financially, it can be an incredibly difficult area to break into. Songwriters are constantly on the grind and are ready to work at any hour of the day, even when work is limited or nonexistent. When first starting out, some songwriters work other jobs to be able to support themselves financially while they pursue songwriting on the side.
Once a Songwriter has a breakthrough, they spend lots of time in the studio. Even though a Songwriter’s schedule is often chaotic and no two days are ever the same, established Songwriters usually have more say over their hours, where they work, and whom they work for. No matter what level of success a Songwriter has reached though, all writers have the same goal in mind: to craft successful hit songs.
Songwriters draw from a multitude of outlets to gain inspiration for their songs, including personal experiences, the experiences of others, or stories that already exist within the media space (other songs, television shows, books). The songwriting process is unique to each person, and sometimes an individual Songwriter may take different approaches when writing two different songs. Many elements of the songwriting process, including writing lyrics before the melody or vice versa, are determined by each writer individually based on what works best for their creative approach.
"Write all day, every day, even if it’s only one line. Watch movies and listen to conversations because somebody might say something in a way that you wouldn’t say it. Open your mind to any lane of creativity, and realize that you can turn any conversation or thought into a song."
Levon Gray, Songwriter (Verse 2 Music / Sony Music Publishing)
The best way to get better at songwriting is to keep writing. A songwriter may produce 100 bad songs before they make something good, but with both practice and patience, a writer can work towards perfecting their craft over time.
Songwriters do not need access to a full-fledged studio either, especially when first starting out. There are many free or low-budget recording software options, instruments, and other supplies a writer can use to gain experience before transitioning to more professional, high-end equipment.
Songwriters often use a digital audio workstation (DAW) to record or produce their songs. There are several DAWs available to Songwriters with varying budgets and skill levels, some of which include Logic Pro, FL Studio, Pro Tools, Ableton Live, and GarageBand.
Additionally, there are many plug-ins available to Songwriters that were created to further enhance or manipulate audio. Plug-ins can be used with vocals or instruments and can equalize, compress, or add reverb to a track, among other capabilities.
DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation):
Music Notation Programs:
The best way for Songwriters to find gigs is to network with other writers. Oftentimes, there are songwriting events that allow writers to connect and work on new music together. More established songwriters are typically in communication with a label’s A&R department to work with writers, producers, and artists who are signed to the label.
Payment varies incredibly from Songwriter to Songwriter and is influenced by a number of factors, including the Songwriter’s experience level, whether or not they work with a label or have a publishing deal. For example, a Songwriter that enters a publishing deal may not own their songs initially but could generate more revenue in the long run after a specific time period compared to another writer.
Independent Songwriters are more likely to own the copyright to the songs they write compared to writers with publishing deals, depending on the details of their contract. Songwriters are most likely to own the rights to their composition, but they may also have rights to the sound recording if they are involved in the performance or the production of the final track.
Songwriters may be present during the recording process, especially if they end up demoing with the artist, but they are not always required to attend sessions.
The duration of songwriting sessions can vary, but a common length for sessions lies at about 3-4 hours. The time it takes to finish a track varies from song to song, but most writers prefer to leave the session with a complete piece which may mean staying overtime.
There are a few different paths an aspiring Songwriter can take to achieve their career goals. Some Songwriters start out at a young age, using their musical background established from taking private lessons or music classes in their youth. Writers often pave their own path toward success by networking and getting as much studio time as possible, but college programs are also available to those who aspire to pursue a career in songwriting.
Many universities across the globe offer songwriting classes to help Songwriters make connections and further develop their skills. A few popular programs include Belmont University, located in Nashville, Tennessee, as well as Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
In the context of songwriting and audio production, a plug-in is a component of computer mixing software that manipulates, enhances, or adds to audio. For example, an EQ plugin adjusts frequencies to equalize the track and give it a balanced sound.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
An integrated computer-based recording system that commonly offers a number of production features such as advanced multitrack recording, editing and mixdown capabilities, MIDI sequencing, edit and score capabilities, and integration with hardware devices such as controllers, MIDI, and audio interface devices.
Someone who writes their own songs, rather than receiving them from another songwriter or giving them to another artist. Singer-songwriters may collaborate with other writers, but they almost always play some part in creating the music they perform.
Someone who not only writes but produces their own songs. Rather than simply coming up with a melody and lyrics, songwriter-producers accompany the creative process throughout the production stage.
Written by Julia
Designed by Lou
Published May 9th 2022
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