Thinking of starting a songwriting career? Maybe you have played with the idea, or even dabbled in the music business a bit in the past, but never quite went all in. Whatever the case, becoming a songwriter is entirely possible, regardless of your experience level and ability to write lyrics or compose music.
What does a songwriter really do?
If you become a songwriter, it means you write songs that are often intended for other artists to perform (unless you are a singer-songwriter and perform your creations yourself). You may be the creator of just the lyrics (lyricist) or also create the melody and music composition. You can write songs independently and then pursue publishing deals on your own, or you can work as an in-house songwriter for a publishing company.
The state of songwriting today
Is it worth starting a songwriting career now? And how does one go about getting started if you have zero knowledge of the industry? As it relates to the first question, there is much concern about the state of the music industry presently, and understandably so. For starters, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global music industry saw collective loss of revenue surpassing $17 billion in 2020.
Moreover, the inability to move around freely means music creators can’t carry out many traditional activities that were useful in developing their talent or finding earning opportunities. Things like attending networking events and workshops, or even visiting physical recording studios have all been taken out of the equation for many songwriters. By the way, Tunedly is all online, so you can access all these services from the comfort of your home.
How to become a songwriter in 2021
There are still good reasons to pursue a music career and, as you will see below, becoming a songwriter in the midst of a pandemic is not all that different from the usual. You still need to love what you do, instead of just seeing it as a means to an end. Furthermore, you still have to put in the work in order to have a chance of getting results. The difference in 2021 is that you need to become aware of the changing musical environment and adapt your craft accordingly.
In terms of earning potential, there are still plenty of avenues available to songwriters. The important thing is to understand all the different ways songwriters can make money. Also, it is helpful to realize that, as a songwriter, you likely won’t earn any revenue for the first few years until royalties start kicking in. With those caveats cleared up, it’s time to find out what you need to do in order to become a songwriter.
Write as much as possibleThere is no two ways about it; becoming a songwriter means you have to write songs – lots of them. As you write, you will be building your portfolio while increasing your chances of getting a breakthrough. Think of yourself as a content writer for the music business. The more content (songs) you create, the higher your chances of attracting the “businesses” that will be interested in your work. In addition, the more you write, the better you will get at it.
Learn all you can about the craftYou don’t need to be the greatest at writing or composing music in order to become a successful songwriter. In fact, talent in the craft is only an incentive. While there are no set-in-stone rules for songwriting, you do need a good understanding of songwriting best practices and how to apply them consistently. Stuff like knowing different song structures, different literary devices that make lyrics more profound, how to construct a bridge, and ways to create memorable melodies will help you to create better and better songs. You can learn a lot by simply listening to popular songs and zooming in on how all the different parts are put together. There is also plenty of literature, including books, articles, and guides on the subject, as well as courses and videos. You don’t have to consume all the available material, but taking time to learn about different aspects of songwriting is highly recommended if you want to do it as a long term profession.
Learn all you can about the businessThe business of music can be quite confusing for songwriters, especially with the increased focus on digital platforms. Songwriters who take the time to learn about the business land better deals that can set them up for life. One only has to look at recent events involving songwriters selling portions of their catalogs for many millions of dollars. As mentioned earlier, it is highly important to understand all the ways songwriters can make money, so you can target all the earning opportunities available to you. Furthermore, a basic idea of the copyright side of things will help you to make better decisions and know who to call when faced with songwriting deals and industry jargon that may not be clear.
Study the habits of great songwritersThere are many songwriters who have left their mark on the music scene, not just because they are good at songwriting, but due to their work ethics. Whether it is producing lots of content, constantly pursuing pitching opportunities, or finding unique ways to create, most celebrated songwriters have developed strong habits that set them apart from the competition. And many have shared their secrets in interviews, articles, and other media. As a student of the songwriting business, you want to study these habits and try to emulate the ones that are most relevant to your songwriting goals.
Have your songs professionally producedFor songwriters intending to pursue a professional career, it is important to have your demos and full songs recorded at a high quality. The field is highly competitive, which means artists, labels, publishers, and other stakeholders looking for songs to exploit will only go for those that really catch their ears. While there are many tools that can allow you to record songs on your home computer, these likely won’t produce the kind of quality recordings that will give you an edge. Even proponents of home studio recordings, such as Billie Eilish, still have to turn to professional equipment and expertise to get the best results.
As you can see, the road to becoming a songwriter in 2021 hasn’t exactly changed. It just requires more awareness of how the new normal is affecting the industry. For one, more and more songwriters are turning to online platforms for some of the services necessary to practice their craft. For example, Tunedly has been helping many music creators find collaborators to produce their songs professionally, as well as discover publishing opportunities. If you are interested in getting started in songwriting, we can help you too.
FULFILL YOUR DREAMS OF BECOMING A SONGWRITER. TUNEDLY MAKES CHART-TOPPING SINGLES, YOUTUBE HITS, OR 'JUST BECAUSE.'