Find the Right Career Path for You!
So you’re a songwriter but not sure where to start your career. The good news is, there are almost endless possibilities for writers today!
Songwriters are the music industry’s hidden gem. It doesn’t matter genre or artist, everyone is using songwriters in some capacity. today, songwriters write chord progressions, melodies and lyrics for artists, producers, A&R’s, Film, TV and even advertisement. Every time you hear a song, someone had to write it, whether it’s from your favorite artist or a song you’ve never heard before playing in the background of a movie or tv show.
Songwriting has a widespread presence throughout the industry, throughout this article, I will cover six songwriting jobs in the music industry you can find in the business today. You can read them all or click on the links below to jump directly to your interest.
If you have a love for musicals and songwriting, there’s good news! Working as a musical director and a composer for a musical could be a match made in heaven.
The difficult portion of this path is writing to a script. Most songwriters write what they feel and what they want. When writing for a musical you have to write within the direction of the theatrical performance.
Your songs must tell a story alongside any dialogue that may be spoken outside of musical performances. The best way to start a career as a musical songwriter is to intern or work with a small musical. Working with smaller companies and productions allows you to wear more hats throughout the project.
If musical theater is something you enjoy, there’s no better place to take your passion for songwriting.
If you’re witty and enjoy coming up with catchy phrases, you may want to look into writing jingles.
Most jingles fall between 10-12 seconds. When comparing that to a three-minute and thirty-second song, it seems like a breeze, however, you have a lot less time to capture the listener.
Many jingle songwriters are freelance, meaning companies find you or you’re scouting for your own work. It may take a while to break into this industry, however, if you’re good at it, there’s plenty of companies out there looking for someone to write their catchy and memorable tagline.
Jingles are usually simple but stick in your head, and that’s what makes them great. The majority of them are written using only a few notes yet are remembered by millions. The most famous “jingle” written according to an advertising survey is “nationwide is on your side” This single phrase was recognized by 92.6% of surveyors.
Even if this isn’t the end-all job for you, it might be fun to take a stab at writing one of these for a company or two along the way.
Work For Hire Songwriter
This is relatively similar to being a standard songwriter however instead of being paid in publishing royalties you are often paid an hourly rate or a standard fee for completing the work in which the company or individual hired you to complete.
If you are looking for contract-based work, try starting off with creating a Fiver account or using a platform such as Upwork. In all honesty, this path is not taken by as many songwriters once they have established themselves.
It is often more enticing to work for publishing royalties rather than a flat fee since you could end up making a considerable amount more. However, if you’re looking to make some money between publishing deals, this might not be a bad way to do it.
A Performing Songwriter
A performing songwriter is one that writes and plays their own music. For many starting off this is the route taken. This is the easiest way to get started but it’s one of the more difficult ways to bring in revenue.
You are going to be relying on the promotion and sales of your own songs for income. Note, there is nothing wrong with this at all, many of the largest acts in the world fall under this category, however, money will most likely be tight and it will take determination and stamina to turn it into a full-time career.
If you’re looking at going down this road, having a healthy social media following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok are going to really help. This will be the easiest way to let your fans know what you are working on and what you’re planning to do next.
Having some sort of email list or mailing list is more important than you think. A quality email list will boots engagement across your entire brand and also let dedicated fans know of what is coming next, merchandise drops and pretty much anything else. Start building this list early and it will pay off in the long run.
Learn more about leveraging social media for musicians here.
Songwriter for Artists
By far the most popular form of songwriting is for other artists. This is a much more viable path to take as you will be working with artists who most likely have some sort of following.
Your first order of business after you develop your writing skills is to secure a publishing deal. If you’re unfamiliar with publishing, you should check out our previous blog on the topic HERE.
By signing a publishing deal, you will give up some money, but in return, you will have someone on your side who can get your songs heard by the right people and ultimately placed with an artist.
The biggest hurdle of this path besides signing to a publisher is writing for another person. You always have to remember this song is not necessarily for you. You’re writing for a specific artist or genre in mind and sometimes that can be difficult.
Licensing and Sync Songwriter
Finally, we have the world of licensing and sync. This deals with placing original compositions into advertisements, films and TV shows.
This road typically follows that of a songwriter for artists, in that a publisher is going to help you drastically. Once you have a publishing deal they can pitch your songs to producers, TV networks and independent directors. If a song is selected to be used the payday can be more than an album. Advertising is a multi-billion dollar a year business and budgets can surpass that of a record contract.
If you are a songwriter, familiarize yourself with the world of licensing and sync from a young age as this is a viable area for a songwriter to earn revenue.
Songwriting is a skill, and like any skill, it needs time and energy to grow! If you are looking to take your songwriting to the next level looking into some formal education like Dark Horse Institute’s Composition and Songwriting program. In our program, we are teaching the techniques to help you grow as a writer. It’s important to always remember why you started the journey of becoming a songwriter and never forget that.
Tie It All Together
If you are interested in a career in the Music Industry, Dark Horse Institute’s Composition and Songwriting, Audio Engineering, or Music Business Programs are a great way to take things to the next level!