Are you a great wordsmith, but not necessarily a great tunesmith? There are many people who love writing lyrics but do not write the accompanying music. There are others who write both music and lyrics but are looking for a way to primarily sell lyrics. There is a growing market for lyrics. In the music business, publishing is where the money’s at, so many people look to publishing to make a living in music.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Original song lyrics
Check out the Songwriter Guild of America (www.songwritersguild.com). Here you can find different markets for songwriters. The Songwriters Guild was put together to protect songwriters by establishing good publishing and contract terms. There are membership fees, but this can be a good way to network with other songwriters.
Check online. There are websites that buy lyrics exclusively. For instance, take a look at the site, Empire Music Company (www.empiremusicco.com). The site buys lyrics from lyricists, not just musicians.
Join ASCAP – the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. ASCAP will protects writing and distribution of your songs. This is available to self-publishers, as well as people who’ve put something out on a major label.
Be sure to fight for adequate credit. If you co-write a song with someone, you can share in the publishing credit. People have been known to be scammed by not getting due credit, so make sure to get split credit in writing.
Check out the Music Publisher’s Association (www.mpa.org) for a complete list of music publishers.
Tips and warnings
- Once you do publish, you’ll want to sign up for The Songwriter Guild’s diamond membership.
- Network with people in the music industry. Often music publishers also have other jobs in the industry – most often as music producers – so getting your name out there, and getting to know theirs, is a crucial part of the process.
- Keep writing, keep playing out, keep putting out a quality product. That’s a vital part of the process. You’ll have trouble selling sub-par or infrequent work.
- Also consider copyrighting your lyrics via a Creative Commons license to protect yourself against theft. It’s free, unlike ASCAP, but it doesn’t cover royalties.
- Beware of “song sharks.” These are scam publishers that charge a fee for reviewing a song, which no legitimate music publisher would charge.