How to make money as a songwriter

How to make money as a songwriter

In the music industry, artists are always faced with constant pressure to produce the next hit song. While a few of them can do it by themselves, quite a number feel that they need help writing lyrics to their songs and coming up with the perfect ...

In the music industry, artists are always faced with constant pressure to produce the next hit song. While a few of them can do it by themselves, quite a number feel that they need help writing lyrics to their songs and coming up with the perfect melodies.

‘Someone like you’ by Adele, ‘Poker Face’ by Lady Gaga, ‘Umbrella’ by Rihanna, ‘California Gurls’ by Katy Perry and ‘Love the way you lie’ by Eminem are just but a few examples of hit songs that the artist has written with the help of a songwriter.

Who is a Songwriter

A songwriter is an artist who has specialized in writing lyrics for songs or creating melodies for the songs. This can be done either by working alongside a performing artist or they can present their work to publishers, agents and managers in the music industry for consideration.

Anyone with the passion and desire to write song lyrics can become a songwriter. However, to be able to make money from songwriting, you will need to be exceedingly creative and entrepreneurial. Songwriting does not end at just writing lyrics, you will need to put in the work to market your pieces once they have been polished.

How to make money with your songs

Making money from songs you write is hard, however with a combination of different approaches, you can be able to make a killing from your songs. As a songwriter, a majority of your income will come from performance royalties, mechanical royalties, sync fees and advances.  According to the approximated annual income for a songwriter is about $65,000.

Mechanical Royalties

This is money paid every time a legal copy of a song is sold, either as a download or a tangible copy or reproduced on a streaming site such as Spotify or Sound cloud.

Performance Royalties

Money is paid to the songwriter when their music is performed in public. This can either be the music playing in the background at your favorite coffee place, on radio or at your local bar.

Sync fee

This is the one-time fee that a songwriter offers to a producer or director to use their song. Once the sync fee is paid, the songwriter grants the purchaser a license that enables them to use their song with their compositions. These include YouTube videos, movies, adverts and T.V shows.

This is a highly profitable income source especially since companies such as Netflix and Showmax are constantly producing new movies. Getting your music in one of these movies is also a good way to market your songs enabling you to create more money in other ways.


Songwriters who have signed co-publishing deals with publishing companies are paid a monthly salary or an advance fee. They are then required to write and co-write songs and create demos which you will then pitch to artists and movie/ T.V companies.

However, advances are like debt to the publishing companies. As such, once you receive royalties from your songs, the money will be used to pay back the advance you received.


Making sales from your music is now easier than ever. With platforms such as Spotify, SoundCloud and iTunes, you can record your songs, upload them on one or a variety of these platforms and watch the views turn into cash.

However, it is not as easy as it might sound. You will need to do a lot of marketing to create awareness on your songs. A good way to do this is by doing live performances.  Another way to make money, albeit a bit old-fashioned now is by recording on CD’s and selling copies.

Tips on how to become a professional songwriter

The possibilities of making money from songwriting are limitless. The harsh truth however is that only a few songwriters are able to make it to the top league; writing or co-writing songs for superstar artists. The big percentage of songwriters is those who still have to work day jobs to make ends meet. Listed below are a few pointers to help you stand a better chance of making your dream to become a songwriter a reality;

Improve on your craft

Be open to learning something new about improving your craft; be it the quality or the quantity of output. This can be achieved by working on collaborations, taking relevant short courses (familiarize yourself with modern music producing technology such as synthesizers and computer sound editing) and networking with other songwriters.

Join a songwriting network

The phrase ‘No man is an Island’ has never been more relevant. Being in a community of like-minded people will help you grow as you will be motivated and pushed to becoming the best version of yourself as an artist.

The aim of these groups basically is to develop a sense of accountability hence pushing you to set and meet targets. With groups, members are also available to encourage and motivate you in your journey.

Develop a variety of skill sets

Having a variety of skills to work on as a songwriter is great as it will help your career to advance. Examples of skills to perfect in include;


This involves helping established artists write new hit songs. Many artists like to be present when their song is being written. Therefore, learning how to write with someone is critical

You need to perfect your communication skills like being able to reject an idea without being offensive. In addition, co-writing is a great way for you to make passive income from your songs through royalties the songs earn.

Creating demos

Creating demos is a good way to improve on your writing, instrumental and producing skills. A demo helps to show off your song before you complete it. It gives the general idea of how the final song will sound like including production ideas and beats.

Writing for different genres and uses

A professional songwriter should be able to write a composition that is outside of the genre you sing. Co-writing is a great way to practice this. The different collaborations with different artists helps to expand your music knowledge.

Learn how to brand and market yourself

There are a number of ways in which you, as a professional songwriter can market your services to get more clients. The way you share your music has a direct impact on your songwriting career.  Examples of ways in which you can market yourself as a songwriter include;

Recording and releasing music

You can record and release your music as a single, an album or even as a part of an EP. This can be done either by self-release or you can sign up on a label.

You can earn money from this by uploading music on streaming sites such as Spotify that pay per stream, by selling CD’s though most people no longer buy these or by pressing vinyl.

Live performances

Live performances can be done at gigs, festivals or at open mics. This is a great way to get people to know about your songs. For some songwriters, live performances are their major source of income. Touring different places to sing for different crowds. In most cases, the larger the crowd the higher the pay.

Live performances are a great place to sell original CD copies of your music.

Bottom Line;

Although the stakes of making it big in songwriting are somewhat low, with exceptional skills and talent, persistent and proper marketing, you can get your breakthrough as a songwriter in the music industry.

Like all good things, it requires patience and practice all while dedicating your undivided time and effort.

Show all Most Helpful Highest Rating Lowest Rating Add your review
  1. […] How to make money as a songwriterHow to Make Money as a Graphic DesignerHow to make money as a music producerHow Much Do Freelance Artists Make? […]

  2. […] Are you an excellent songwriter, digital designer (how to make money as a freelance digital designer) or a highly skilled software developer? […]