Have you ever wondered how much you could actually earn as a songwriter? Can you earn a liveable income from writing music?
Let’s go through it!

 When you consider someone who writes songs for the pop-culture icons of today, you may believe that they’re a league above everybody else as a songwriter. This is not the case. They have merely analysed that branch of the songwriting industry and completely committed their careers to it, like anybody else would do in any other jobs!

If you put your mind to it and dig deep, you could certainly achieve this role in the industry, although, writing music for pop-icons is a very small branch in songwriting and for most of us, not a suitable one.

There are countless reasons as to why most of us wouldn’t aim for a career in writing for the top-selling artists. Perhaps it is due to our writing styles being different to what the masses are asking for. Perhaps we think of that avenue as selling out! Both are reasonable. Remember, songwriting is an art form and a hobby and even as a career, it should be treated as such. If you do not enjoy what you do in the industry, simply move on to something you do enjoy! There’s always money to be earned.

So if you are not looking to obtain a career writing for the stars, what are your remaining options?

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The truth is, writing music for others is just a small avenue in songwriting. Writing for the popular artists is an even smaller avenue!

Below is a complete list of possible avenues to be explored in the industry of Songwriting:

Songwriting Artist

This is someone who writes and performs their own music. They receive all of the songwriter’s income, all of the artist’s cut of the record sales and a cut of ticket sales. Not to mention PRS or MCPS (Performance Rights and Mechanical Copyright Protection – See their full descriptions here).


Composer for Television & Film

Fairly self-explanatory although these songwriters often write to a brief and, of course, to a visual. The rights to the music are often bought by whoever the music was written for, although there are some cases in which the two parties agree to take suitable percentages of all profits or income.

Songwriter for Other Artists (As mentioned in the introduction)

This is someone who writes songs for other people to perform. The income for this line of work is based primarily on percentages of sales. Let’s say for example, you wrote a song for Adele and the song reaches number 1. It earns millions… You would receive a prior-agreed percentage of however much that song makes. On a much smaller scale, there are websites such as SongBay which, among many other options, offer you the chance to sell the copyright of your music to other artists for a fee that you determine as the seller. It’s perhaps worth mentioning that Song Bay does not take a cut. Some other similar sites may charge a commission.


Composer for Games

This is similar to writing for TV & Film in the sense that you may need to write to a brief or a visual. The two parties may agree on percentages of sales although, as is most often the case, the creator simply sells the music to the designers of the game.


Freelance Songwriter

This means that you are capable of dabbling in some, or all, of the above. Although be aware, each of the above roles will require a large amount of socialising and making connections. If you are to dabble in more than one of them, you will need to expand your socialising horizons in order to reach all of the necessary industry connections. 

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To be a songwriter is to be constantly sociable. You will be forgotten rapidly if you do not remain a prominent feature in your chosen industry avenue, leading to a lack of employment and most likely less of an income.

Let’s say that you run a consistent and popular social media page for your songwriting career. There is good communication between yourself and your followers and your page receives good response from those who follow you.

This is a fantastic platform and it gives you such an amazing boost for finding work in your chosen field.

As far as exact earnings are concerned, you can earn anything from nothing to millions in a year depending on your work ethic. Also, you need to be smart, think carefully about how you connect with others in the industry.

Finally, for the sake of showing some figures, here is an article based on an average yearly income of someone who writes songs for others. It states that songwriting for other artists can earn you approximately $40k Per Year, although I would reiterate that it takes time, effort, dedication and often a creative intelligence to make it as an entrepreneur and as a songwriter of any kind.


Keep Playing & Good Luck

Blog SignatureJake McCullough

Director of Content, Buden Bay

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