4 minute read

Songwriter Job Description, Career as a Songwriter, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Bachelor’s degree

Average Salary $43,000 per year

Job Outlook Fair

Basic Job Description

Songwriters often specialize in writing and composing music for one specific instrument or part of a song. They often work with a partner or in groups of 3 or 4 people with different talents to compile a piece of work to sell to an artist, record company or producer. Some songwriters work solely for specific artists or companies, while others work freelance and pitch their music compositions to whoever they can find. Some work simply by writing lyrics and depending on someone else to create the music and rhythm behind it, while others will create each detail to a song without the help of other artists.

Education and Training Requirements

Songwriters usually begin their career by getting a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, or virtually any music related field. Most of them can play various instruments and have excellent understanding of how to read music. They are educated in a variety of musical styles and have an ear for what is used to make up different styles.

Getting the Job

Songwriters usually gain exposure in the music industry by freelance writing for various music publications. They use these writing opportunities to gain contacts and connections in the industry, and write music on the side. Once they have written pieces that they would like to see sold to an artist, they will pitch it to producers, artists or record labels they have become familiar with to see what they think and if they are willing to purchase the song from them.

Songwriters have begun to gain exposure by creating a personal website that puts their work on display and promotes their services. If a songwriter is already known by producers and artists, they can provide them the link to their website to use as a resource.

Anyone who is in the songwriting industry must have excellent communication skills and the ability to sell their work without getting intimidated by more well known people in the industry. They will be aggressive and use the competition to their advantage by contacting them for partnership opportunities or even using their experience as mentorship.

Aside from gaining resources, good songwriters possess plenty of talent and creativity. They are good writers and can explain to an artist exactly what they see as the result of a song. They can also communicate with artists to find out exactly what they are looking for and if any changes need to be done.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Once a songwriter has made connections and gained experience in the field, they can often be picked up by a particular artist or record company to write exclusively for them or their label. Many artists develop personal relationships with their songwriters so they can get a feel on a personal and professional level for what the artist wants in their music.

Employment for a career in songwriting is not necessarily on the rise or diminishing. There are many aspiring songwriters who are not qualified or who do not have what an artist is looking for. If a songwriter stands out from the rest and knows how to sell their music, they will succeed regardless of the demand.

Songwriters usually start off working freelance, but once they get big, can get picked up by a record label to write for them. For many songwriters, their biggest goal is to land in this position.

Working Conditions and Environment

Most songwriters are freelance writers who work out of their home writing and trying to gain new resources and contacts. They will spend long hours in front of their computer compiling music, using technology to blend pieces together, and even play the music on the instruments themselves to get a feel for how it is supposed to sound.

When songwriters are not cooped up writing, they are selling their work by attending music conferences and talking to record producers, setting up meetings with individual artists, and looking for artists or labels who are advertising the need for music.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary of a songwriter is about $43,000 per year. Salaries are extremely variable in this field, as someone who works freelance will often make much less than someone who works exclusively for a record label. Freelance songwriters also have potential to make an excellent income, as they may have several artists they create music for who pay them a substantial amount of money per song.

Freelancers do not work as a full-time employee for one specific company, so they are usually responsible for paying for their own individual health insurance and working vacations and sick time around client needs. Writers who work exclusively for a record label often receive benefits through their employer.

Where to Go for More Information

Christian Songwriters Network
PO Box 18895
Panama City Beach, FL 32417
(206) 279-1601

Musicians Union
60-62 Clapham Road
London SW9 OJJ
Phone: 020 7582 5566

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts