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By Heather Ware

The realities of being a songwriter

Many people have often wondered what it would be like to be a songwriter. Well, despite popular opinion, songwriting is not something that just anyone can do. It takes a lot of time, talent, and no shortage of industry connections. What is it that separates the mediocre songwriters from the professionals?


A songwriter needs to be more than simply good with their words. The best poet can very easily fail as a songwriter, because there is more to writing a song than rhyming words. They also need an in-depth understanding of music and the various aspects of a song. This includes everything from the melody, to chord progressions, to the lyrics, etc.

For this reason, most successful songwriters are often musical performers themselves. If not, they almost certainly have some kind of background in music. Without this experience, learning about song-crafting can seem less like art and more like learning an altogether new language. In short, there is a reason that not every English teacher can become a millionaire via writing songs.


Another factor that people often overlook is that songwriters need to carefully analyze their markets. Like with any product, there needs to be a demand for the song. Put simply, a masterfully crafted country song about life in New York City will most likely be a failure because it does not look at its target audience.

This is why most songwriters stick to one genre. It can be challenging to learn the details of how a genre operates, thus most songwriters do not want to repeat the process across genres. By building upon successful works in a specific genre, songwriters are able to analyze why these songs are successful and replicate that feature. This is why so many of the songs on the radio often sound familiar.


While connections are important for nearly any job, they are especially significant for songwriters. Most songwriters do not work as freelancers, but work as partners with music publishers and producers. Without these connections, many songwriters would be unable to get their work out there, regardless of song quality.

For songwriters that were not fortunate enough to be born with parents in the world of music, this typically means a lot of working for free or near-free with music producers. It is far from ideal, but these connections are essential for a songwriter to receive consistent work. While anyone can technically write as many songs as they want, the music producers are how the songs get to the artists.

The reality

Many people still pursue careers as songwriters, but this only makes the field even more competitive than before. Moreover, most songwriters do not end up like the millionaires that the public has come to know.

While anyone can become a songwriter, not everyone can become successful as one. It takes more than a little passion, hard work, and even a good deal of charisma to develop industry connections. Still, it is unlikely that songwriters will ever lose popularity. After all, who would not want to hear their song on the radio?

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