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5 Things You Need To Know About The Business Of Music And Songwriting

Everyone harbors a dream to become a rock star at some point in his or her life. It is easy to get caught up in fantasies of flying all over the world and living a lavish lifestyle. These fantasies do not always include the songwriting and recording processes, which are arguably the most important aspects of a career in music. Here are some things you should know about these parts of the music industry.

It Takes More than Pure Talent

The music industry views songwriting and production as a collaborative process. Songs are rarely listened to solely on their own merits. Label executives consider new songs within the context of everything else that is being released. If the song is too out of step with current trends, it may need to be retooled. Songs that were originally solo projects could end up having up to 10 credited writers by the time it’s finished.

Know How to Read and Write Music

The music industry is oddly short on people with proper music education. They know how to create songs that will get airplay, but they do not always know how to read or write sheet music. If you’re worried about having your opinions about your own music drowned out by people who are higher up on the food chain, make sure you are able to talk about your music in authoritative terms.

Playing an Instrument Helps

Just because today’s pop stars don’t play instruments on stage doesn’t mean they don’t know how. Knowing how to play piano or guitar is essential for at-home practicing and vocal warm-ups. It also allows singers to commit to different kinds of performances. Playing an instrument also helps the writer maintain some authority over how the song should sound. If he can play it by himself without needing outside accompaniment, he can argue that the song should always be played in similar ways.

Learn about Copyright Laws

Song ownership isn’t as cut-and-dry as one might assume. Songwriters are often dragged into court over ownership of tiny elements of a song. Song ownership is worth fighting over, as this is where the music industry’s money comes from. If more clarification is needed, professionals, like those at Carter West can help with expert and practical legal advice.  While the performers on a record don’t get paid until after initial advances have been recouped, the people who have writing credits get paid immediately.

Factor Production and Performance into the Writing Process

There is so much more to a song than the music and lyrics. Songs depend on the tone of the singer’s voice, the instrumental arrangement, the emotion of the performance and the quirks of production to all come together in a singular way. For better or worse, these factors outside of the songwriting can completely change the meaning of a song.

A songwriter cannot be so married to his vision for a song that he is not open to new interpretations. However, learning some ways to maintain control over the process will prevent him from completely losing track of his music.

5 Things You Need To Know About The Business Of Music And Songwriting

Reader Comments (1)

A comment and a question:

When I think of posts from the likes of pros like Shelly Peiken, regarding the state of songwriting in the modern age, it just makes me want to run as far away from the music business as possible, particularly when any well-connected production staff person can join in on the royalty-credit-gang-bang by adding even the slightest changes to any song that gets close to being released on a major label.

Not only does that geometrically reduce the potential income from your song, but considering the paltry royalties coming from streaming services already, it seems hardly worth pursuing at all these days.

Given that, is anyone buying or selling songs outright anymore? Money up front.

December 31 | Registered CommenterEric Phillips

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