When songwriters dream of making it big, it usually involves winning an industry award, a viral hit, or another beloved artist performing their songs. But a major part of building a successful career as a songwriter is understanding that the music business is, in fact, a business. And that means it's up to every songwriter to educate themselves, learn how to network, and get as organized as any CEO would.
Work needs to be done even if you're brand new to songwriting. First off, start networking. Meet other writers, join writers' groups, go to shows; while it may feel like you're just hanging out, it's about creating a space for yourself in the industry. You never know who may eventually be in a position to help launch your career. More than that, other songwriters can offer opinions and tips on how to make songwriting a successful career choice.
After you've written at least ten songs that feel commercial and competitive, it's time to meet players in the industry. Reach out to professionals for feedback and advice and finalize your publishing so you’re ready to start collecting what you’ve earned. It can be a game-changer to find a solid publisher who will support your songwriting efforts. Be respectful and polite, as their time is valuable, and their mission is to help you get the most out of your career.
Another way to get organized and educate yourself about the business of music is to be involved in your community and songwriter groups, which can offer useful information, regardless of where you are on your journey – from a brand-new songwriter to an established one. Communities like Songtrust also help keep you organized by providing resources about the business itself, such as learning about performance and mechanical royalties, how YouTube monetization works, and the legality of using samples in your songs. Soon you'll start thinking of yourself as not only an awesome songwriter, but a smart businessperson, too.
Most importantly, don’t forget to be an advocate for your community, and yourself. Stay on top of industry news, crucial bills like the Music Modernization Act, and general knowledge about how you get paid for your music. When you act as a leader in your community, you not only effect change for others, but also yourself.
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