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How to Become a Songwriter: The Complete Guide

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Are you passionate about music and dream of writing a hit song? You’re not alone.

Becoming a songwriter may seem like an elusive goal, with many challenges and questions about where to start and how to succeed. But we’re here to guide you through the exciting journey of becoming a songwriter.

From what it takes to become a songwriter and why you should consider this career path to navigating the music industry, learn how to become a songwriter with this guide.

An Overview of Songwriting: A Primer

Songwriting is a captivating art form that allows individuals to create original compositions filled with emotion, storytelling, and musicality. It’s also a flexible side hustle.

At its core, songwriting harnesses the power of words and melodies to craft a unique musical experience. It transforms personal experiences, observations, and imagination into a compelling sonic journey.

Songwriting involves several elements, such as writing lyrics, composing melodies, exploring chord progressions, and structuring songs. It requires understanding music theory concepts, including harmony, rhythm, and song structure.

It’s a multi-faceted art form that leaves room for creative exploration and innovation, allowing songwriters to forge their musical paths.

Successful songwriting isn’t just about creating songs. It’s also about collaborating with co-writers, pitching songs to recording artists, connecting with music producers, and potentially securing a publishing deal with a music publishing company or record label.

How Much Do Songwriters Make?

According to ZipRecruiter, the national average of how much money songwriters make is $75,250/year or $35/hour. Factors such as experience, connections, and marketing play a major role in determining a songwriter’s earning potential.

What You’ll Need to Become a Songwriter [& Associated Costs]

There are no major requirements for writing music. Many heavyweight songwriters out there made it into the industry with just their instrument and passion!

But there are a few things that can definitely improve your chances of making it in the industry, namely:

  • Musical Instrument: Knowing how to play an instrument, like piano or guitar, can be greatly beneficial. Costs will vary based on the instrument type and brand, ranging from $200 to $2,000+.
  • Recording Equipment: Investing in basic recording gear, such as a computer/laptop, audio interface, microphone, and headphones, is important for making demos. Entry-level setups can cost around $500, whereas professional-grade equipment can range from $1,000 to $5,000+.
  • Music Theory Resources: To deepen your understanding of songwriting, it helps to purchase books and online courses, and enroll in music theory classes. Costs can range from free online resources to $50-$200 for instructional books and courses.
  • Co-Writing and Networking Opportunities: Joining songwriting communities and attending networking events to connect with potential co-writers can notably improve your songwriting skills. Costs may include membership or event registration fees, typically ranging from $50 to $500 a year.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Songwriter?

Becoming a songwriter can cost anywhere from $850 to over a few thousand dollars. However, you can still make it without one or more of the above-listed costs, though it would be more challenging.

Check out our guide on getting paid to listen to music if you’re looking for a fun way to make some money on the side.

Is It Hard to Become a Songwriter?

While anyone can write songs, achieving success as a professional songwriter or music creator requires dedication, perseverance, and a solid understanding of the craft.

It’s not necessarily the difficulty of writing catchy songs that presents the biggest challenge, but rather the fierce competition within the industry and the evolving tastes of listeners.

This is why songwriting relies on continuous learning, experimenting, and developing a unique voice that resonates with audiences. It requires a combination of creativity, storytelling, and musicality. 

It also requires people skills and business savviness, which are essential for navigating the industry and establishing strong connections.

At any rate, passion, hard work, and a willingness to grow will help you overcome these challenges and carve a path toward songwriting success.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Songwriter?

The time it takes to become a songwriter can vary from person to person. It depends on various factors, such as your dedication, natural talent, willingness to learn, and time you invest in honing your skills.

Becoming proficient in songwriting typically requires years of practice and continuous growth.

How to Become a Songwriter in 5 Simple Steps

Are you ready to start pursuing your passion for songwriting? Here are the basic steps you need to follow:

Step 1: Develop Your Songwriting Skills

To become a songwriter, you must start by studying music theory concepts, learning to play an instrument, experimenting with different chord progressions, and exploring various song structures.

You also need to practice writing lyrics that evoke emotions and convey compelling and relatable stories. Remember, songwriting isn’t bound by any rules.

Allow yourself to try new things, and don’t put yourself in a box.

Step 2: Learn From Experienced Songwriters

Immersing yourself in the work of famous songwriters and analyzing their techniques can reveal valuable insights you can incorporate into your songwriting.

We recommend studying hit songs across different genres. Avoid limiting yourself to just one genre. Once you’ve pinpointed the songs you’d like to study, start by dissecting their melodies, lyrics, and arrangements.

It also helps to attend songwriting workshops or take online courses to learn from the successes and failures of professional songwriters and apply these lessons to your journey.

Step 3: Collaborate and Co-Write

Collaboration is key in the music industry. It sparks fresh song ideas, and exposes you to different songwriting perspectives and approaches you may not be aware of.

Embrace the opportunity to co-write songs, which can take your skills to the next level and open doors to new connections and opportunities.

Step 4: Build Your Network and Industry Knowledge

Building solid relationships with music producers, recording artists, and music publishers is crucial if you’re looking to make it in the industry. This is why you need to network with industry professionals, attend music conferences, and join songwriter associations.

It’s also crucial to stay updated on industry trends, technologies, and changes in the music business landscape. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time standing out, as the industry is extremely competitive.

Step 5: Share Your Music and Seek Feedback

Once you have a collection of original songs, share your music with others. Perform at open mic nights, showcase your work on social media platforms, and seek feedback from trusted peers, mentors, and industry professionals.

Embrace constructive criticism and use it to refine your songs without taking anything personally. After all, music is all about personal preferences. Perseverance and resilience are key to success in the industry.

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Songwriter

Because being a successful songwriter is challenging, you might wonder if it’s worth the hassle.

Here are a few compelling reasons why you should consider becoming a songwriter:

  • Creative Outlet: Songwriting allows you to display your creativity and express yourself through music, lyrics, and storytelling. Writing songs can also be a therapeutic process, enabling you to process emotions, experiences, and achieve personal growth.
  • Impact and Connection: Music can touch people’s lives, evoke emotions and change, and create a sense of connection and resonance with listeners. It’s one of the most impactful art forms there is.
  • Collaborative Opportunities: Songwriting often involves collaboration with other musicians, lyricists, and producers, allowing you to learn from and collaborate with talented individuals.
  • Fulfilling Career: For those passionate about music, songwriting can offer a fulfilling and rewarding music career path that allows you to do what you love while making a living from your art.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Get Rich as a Songwriter?

Absolutely! Writing a song can make you hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars in mechanical or performance royalties.

The more the song is played or performed, the more money you make as the songwriter. A songwriting career is an excellent way of generating passive income.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Songwriter?

While writing songs doesn’t require any qualifications, a degree in fine art, creative writing, music, or a related discipline can help.

You should also have a solid understanding of music, lyrics, and melody. Industry experience and connections are quite valuable as well.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

Not entirely sure about becoming a songwriter? Here are a few similar gigs to consider:

  • How to Become a Ghostwriter: Did you know most of today’s music artists have ghostwriters? If you have a knack for writing lyrics and putting captivating words together, you should consider becoming a ghostwriter.
  • How to Become a Copywriter: Copywriters, also known as marketing writers, are the professionals behind the engaging text you see on print ads, catalogs, and websites. Our guide shows you how to become a copywriter in a few simple steps.
  • How to Become a Content Creator: From YouTubing to blogging, there’s a lot you can do and earn from as a content creator. We discuss everything you need to know about how to become a content creator in this guide.

Wrapping Up

Songwriting is an exciting journey that’s unique to each individual. This is why you need to embrace your creative voice, keep pushing boundaries, and strive to pave your way rather than try to imitate other songwriters.

If you have any questions or insights, be sure to post them in the comments section below. And don’t forget to share this guide with others who might find it valuable on their musical journey.

Now go on and write the next smash hit!

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