How to Become a Songwriter
Songwriter Job Details
Skills and Qualities of a Songwriter
Influential Professional Songwriters
Leading Organizations for Songwriters
Top Cities for Songwriting Jobs
Other Careers of Interest
Virtually all songwriters started out by playing one or more musical instruments and they may have even joined a band or orchestra at some point in their lives. Indeed, they often continue to do so while engaged in their songwriting career. Many employment opportunities typically require applicants to have a bachelor degree, either in music composition or a related field.
Formal training can be gained from specialized courses offered by colleges, universities or other learning institutions. Depending on the position applied for, a songwriter may also be required to possess practical experience from working in music related jobs.
Most songwriters are also expected to be able to play one or more musical instruments, in addition to singing and arranging the music they compose. Songwriters can be called upon to compose original music for a wide variety of applications and clients, among them symphony orchestras, opera companies, radio, television, cinema and for other performers. Oftentimes, they are also expected to be able to write down their compositions in notation form. While the use of pen and paper continues to be a popular method for getting ideas down, more and more songwriters are relying on computer software, both for editing and composing music.
Of course talent and creativity is a must and songwriters who are interested in performing will also need to develop stage presence and have the stamina to travel to different locations and perform on demand. Since it is important to be able to write in a wide variety of styles, very often on a deadline, self-discipline is crucial. To a certain degree, songwriters also have to be prepared to face the prospect of lack of employment opportunities and the rejection of their work.
Another factor to consider is that earnings are generally dependent on whether or not they are self-employed and it therefore depends on the number of projects that they can work on. Songwriters who are also performers could expect a higher income, derived from public performances such as concerts. In addition, songwriters that are involved in recording projects can earn a substantial income from publishing fees.
Nashville, being a particularly fertile area for songwriters, has its own organization, called the Songwriters Association International or NSAI. It was established in 1967 and mainly focuses on country music, although they do feature other types of music as well. The NSAI currently holds almost 100 workshops all over the United States and offers both professional and general membership. The NSAI is also involved in producing numerous educational meets throughout the year, with 'Song Camps' and a yearly Summer Seminar being amongst the most widely attended.
The United States is also home to one of the first songwriters' organizations in the world. Called the Songwriters Guild of America or SGA, it currently has offices in New York, Nashville, and Los Angeles.
The SGA is primarily responsible for the development of the standard song contract used by many songwriters to this day. Among its roles are assisting songwriters in collecting royalties and the administration of publishing catalogs of its songwriters and publishers. The SGA also has a not for profit department called The Songwriters Guild Foundation, which offers, among other services, consultations, seminars and workshops for members.
Songwriters can actually be found working in a wide variety of settings, ranging from religious organizations to orchestras, chamber music groups, opera companies, theater groups and ballet. They can also find careers writing for musicians and singers who perform in entertainment spots. Further employment opportunities can also be found in radio and television.
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