Here is 1/2 a page from the Songwriter section of the Primer. Imagine how much information is waiting for you to absorb on your way to your career in music!

For the songwriter, the process for obtaining a recording of your song is really the story of a career. The young songwriter usually starts out either writing and performing her own songs or writing songs at the local level with the thought that some other artist could record them. The record companies and publishers look with more favor on the “self-contained” writer who can perform her own songs. It is much easier for both of them (record company and publisher) to make money if they do not have to run around trying to match songs with an act. The singer/songwriter is in effect, one-stop shopping for both of them. So, if you are a singer/songwriter, you have an advantage over the person who is only a songwriter.

That is not to say that songwriters who don’t perform have no place in the business; they do. But that place is not as big as it used to be, and it seems to be getting smaller each year. Any songwriter who wants to make a living off of their work as a lyricist or composer these days usually works through a publisher who pitches their tunes to an artist who doesn’t write or finds an artist that they can use as their “voice.”


Co-writing is an excellent way for songwriters to stretch their influence. Not only do they get the benefit of learning and working with another talent, but they also have the advantage of getting someone else to promote what they do. If you are co writing with a signed artist, that is even better because you have a sure outlet for the songs.

The Talent and the Craft of Songwriting.

Most people in the music industry will tell you that talent is rare, but easy to recognize. We may not be able to put a name to it or tell you how we know, but we do. Whenever we meet a young songwriter who has talent we look to see if they have the “drive”: meaning are they going to do the things they need to do to succeed? Paramount among those things that need to be done is to learn the craft of songwriting. Craft is the nuts and bolts of putting your ideas into a form that is as beautiful as any piece of art should be. Yours may not be the Mona Lisa, but it better be good enough to hang on a lot of walls in a lot of places! Each writer has their own way of doing things, but they innately know what works and what doesn’t work for their craft.

Leonard Cohen: “I wish I were one of those people who wrote songs quickly. But I’m not. So it takes me a great deal of time to find out what the song is. I am working most of the time.”

If you want to be an Olympic level champion, then you need to put in Olympic level practice time. That applies to songwriters as well….. especially at the beginning of your career. The more you write, the better you will get.

© 2020 Music Industry Primer by Terry McManus