Home » Tunes and Dollars: How Songwriters Earn Their Keep

A Guide About How Much Money Do Song Writers Make?



Let’s say you believe you can write songs and want to make money with them. You have some good news to hear. There are more opportunities than ever before to make money writing songs if you’re skilled and hardworking. You can start your own journey in writing songs, or you can find any writing company that is opening a position as “song writers for hire” and join them.


On the other hand, there is fierce competition because modern technology makes it feasible for nearly anyone to create music of high-quality standards. Over the past few decades, the music industry has been moving away from album sales and toward less lucrative revenue streams.


This comprehensive resource will provide an answer to the query, “How much money do songwriters make?” As you might have guessed, just a select few mega-stars earn millions of dollars annually, while the majority of songwriters make absolutely nothing. However, if you know what to do, the average composer may make an upper-middle-class livelihood.


Keep reading until the end because we’ll cover all you need to know about getting paid for your music.


What Does Songwriter Mean?


Before discussing the potential earnings of songwriters, it is important to define the term. Obviously, a “composer” is someone who makes songs, but in today’s world where songs are so intricate, what does it really mean?

The truth is that the majority of today’s top-grossing commercial songs feature these essential elements:


  • The production
  • The lyrics
  • The melodies
  • The rhythms


The last one is particularly significant.


Consider that if you listen to ANY of the most recent hits on the Top 40, you’ll find that 90% of the songs on the chart are highly produced (and designed to be “danceable”), especially in genres like pop, hip hop, rap, and dance/electronic, which are currently in vogue.


Therefore, it is important to consider the area of songwriting services you are focusing on. Because if you try to write and sell full songs on your own, you can discover firsthand how difficult songwriting is unless you are extraordinarily talented in every way.


Even musicians can have a niche! If you have a knack for creating memorable hooks, you can decide to become a topline songwriter (the person who comes up with a melody and lyrics) and work with a producer to come up with killer beats. Or perhaps you’re fantastic at writing music but awful at writing lyrics; in this case, you might want to collaborate with a lyricist.


This information is provided to you so that you can broaden your conception of what it means to be a composer. In the modern music industry, narrowing your focus may be your best course of action if you want to sell songs.


How Much Do Songwriters Make Money– 7 ways


After discussing the many aspects of songwriting, let’s look at a few distinct methods by that songwriters can get compensated. You need to be aware of all the various sorts of song royalties there are!


Physical Mechanical Royalties


The Harry Fox Agency pays mechanical royalties to songwriters for the sale or replication of their songs on vinyl, CDs, cassettes, and other physical media. Currently, each song costs 9.1 cents. The Copyright Royalty Board divided this total mechanical royalty among the co-authors and publishers. Although physical album sales aren’t as significant as they once were, they can still be a significant source of income.


Mechanical Royalties For Digital Downloads


You also get mechanical royalties as a songwriter when a piece of music is downloaded digitally. Similar to the mechanical, tangible royalties, each music costs 9.1 cents to download digitally. These revenues should be accumulated through services like iTunes and Amazon.


Automatic Streaming Royalties


You can anticipate receiving a mechanical royalty as a songwriter from streaming. The most popular platforms for this include YouTube, Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, and Pandora.


Licensing Fees For Sync


When your song is authorized for usage in a video, you, as the songwriter, will be compensated with sync (“synch”) licensing fees (primarily television and movies, but online video as well). The sync licensing rate is negotiable directly between the parties, and any profits are split 50/50 between the songwriters and the singer/songwriter, and the record label of the song.


Royalties for Completion


When a song you wrote is broadcast publicly on terrestrial radio, an internet streaming service, and of course, in a live setting, you are owed a performance royalty. A Performing Rights Organization (PRO), such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, distributes these payments. You won’t receive the full royalty amount unless you also happen to be the writer and publisher, as the composer and publisher split 50/50 of the PRO’s performance royalty revenue.


Pattern Royalties


You can receive royalties as a songwriter from the sale of any of your songs’ printed sheet music. Depending on how many copies of the work are made, fees are paid. Although it’s not the most typical payment method for copyright holders, this is nonetheless a potential source of income.


Deals of Publishing


By joining a music publishing firm, you may occasionally receive direct payment for the music you produce if you are a successful songwriter. This frequently includes an advance, where you are paid today against potential royalties for the work you complete, though depending on your level of accomplishment, it may be a much more flexible arrangement.


How to Start Earning Money From Songwriting


Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the actual workings of the music business and the world of song royalties. However, how do ambitious songwriters begin earning any money?


Really, there are only two options:


  • Take a unique path. Choose artists to work with, find music buyers directly to license your songs to, contribute to independent A&R companies like TAXI and music licensing libraries like Pond5, or write your own songs to perform and market as a singer-songwriter.


  • Collaborate with publishers and record labels. Get deals with record labels by showcasing your abilities as a songwriter to them.


Let’s face it, both solutions are challenging. Like, really challenging!

The music business, whether it’s producers, artists, or publishing executives, is more about who you know than nearly any other industry. Thus, unless you already have a connection, you will be engaged in a three-front conflict:


  • Composing A LOT of great songs!
  • Owning and operating a business!
  • AND intense networking!


We realize that’s not exactly motivating, but you should be aware of the reality of the music industry. Even the most well-known composers typically have additional sources of income in addition to songwriting alone because it is unpredictable and subject to violent swings in success and profitability. Check Out Cosmics Publishers for more info!


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