Getting paid to do something you love is every singer and songwriter’s dream. If songwriting is your favourite hobby, why not consider selling your song lyrics and making money from your passion?
A lot of artists start out as songwriters, but songwriting is also a brilliant career in itself. By writing and selling your own lyrics, you can earn royalties, get signed by publishers, and get paid every time your song is played on the radio, live, or online.
There are lots of opportunities to earn money in songwriting. Whether you want to pursue a career as a songwriter, be a singer-songwriter, or whether you want to just sell a few of your best lyrics online; there are lots of ways to get paid for your songs.
There are lots of opportunities in the songwriting industry, whether you’re looking for a professional career as a lyricist or if you just want to try and make some money off a few of your best tracks.
These are some of the careers you could pursue in songwriting:
- Performing songwriter
- Songwriter for other artists
- Freelance Composer
- TV/Radio Composer
- Musical writer
- Children’s Songwriter
- Jingle Writer
- Staff Writer
- Top-Line Songwriter
If you want to start selling your lyrics on a long-term basis, it’s worth identifying what type of songwriter you are (or want to be) so you can find the best ways to sell your lyrics and the best places to submit your lyrics to.
How do you sell a song you wrote?
You don’t need to hit it big as a professional songwriter to sell a song you wrote. There are lots of ways to make money from writing songs, and you can generate an income with or without a record company and songwriting job title.
If you’re an aspiring songwriter or a performing songwriter, you can try these independent methods of selling songs:
- Record and release a song you’ve written
- Perform your songs live
- Join a lyric-selling website
- Enter songwriting competitions – these can sometimes have cash prizes
- Sign a publishing deal or a record deal
- Pitch your song to professionals or artists
Submit song lyrics for money
Pitching your song to industry professionals and artists is a leading way to earn money as a songwriter.
You can send your songs to industry professionals like music publishers, record labels, and producers to try and secure a record deal or contract.
You can also try submitting your songs to TV and movie companies to try and get a sync license and get hired as their songwriter, or you could submit your song lyrics directly to music libraries to collect royalties on your tracks.
Additionally, you can pitch your lyrics to artists to see if they’d like to perform your song. If they accept your song, you can then take a cut of the royalties generated by your track every time your lyrics are performed, streamed, or downloaded.
Where can you send a song that you wrote?
When you’ve written a song (and you’ve edited and polished it to a really high standard), there are five main outlets you can consider sending it to:
#1 Feedback Forums
Before you send your song to industry professionals, you’d benefit from submitting it to some kind of critic first. You could post your lyrics on a songwriting forum, ask for feedback on a songwriting community app, or even contact a critic or your friends and family for feedback.
You’re more likely to get constructive feedback from these outlets, which you can then take away to improve your lyrics before you submit your demo to a professional publisher.
#2 Music creation platforms
A music creation platform is essentially a website where songwriters, composers, and music publishers can sell, share, and collect royalties on their work online.
There are lots of music creation platforms you can submit your songs to, like ASCAP, SESAC, and BMI. To join these platforms, you’ll have to sign up and become a member, which might come with a subscription fee.
#3 Music publishers
This is the big one: sending your lyrics to music publishers and record labels. The music industry is fiercely competitive and if your lyrics aren’t up to scratch, you won’t get a second chance with a publisher. So you have to make sure your demo is the best it can possibly be.
If you want to find a music publisher in your country, the Music Publishers Directory lists all major and independent publishers in the United States, Canada, and the UK who accept submissions from songwriters.
Bear in mind that the bigger the company is, the less likely your submission will be accepted. Approaching big-name music publishers might be more worthwhile once you’ve got a strong portfolio and some success stories behind you to support your submission.
#4 Indie music publishers
Indie music companies are always on the look-out for up-and-coming lyricists. Local independent music publishers are much more likely to accept your demo and sign you up compared to a major publisher, so it’s worth submitting to the smaller companies first.
For a full list of indie music publishers accepting submissions, check out this guide on how to get an indie publishing deal.
Pitching directly to an artist can be easier than pitching to a music publisher. You can pitch to an artist in person after their gig, or you can contact them online via email or social media.
You’ll stand a higher chance of getting accepted if you choose the right artist to approach and if you handle your pitch professionally. Up-and-coming artists who have a good local following are the best to contact if you’re an amateur songwriter.
Indie artists are much more likely to accept your songs, especially if you’ve done your research and your material matches their style and genre.
Send your chosen artist a professional message asking if they’d like to take a look at a song you’ve written and, if they agree, forward them a demo of your song with an attached lyric sheet.
Submit your song lyrics online
Alternatively, you can cut out the middleman and submit your songs to lyric-selling websites instead.
By submitting your lyrics to Lyric and Song Libraries, you remove the need to pitch to a publisher to sell your lyrics. You can just sign up to the site and sell your music and lyrics online, or you can secure deals to get paid to write lyrics for other artists.
Submit song lyrics for money
If you’d like to submit your lyrics to a website and get paid for them, here are some examples of Lyric and Song Libraries you can join:
Selling your lyrics online is fast and easy to do, and Songbay consistently ranks as the most popular website for songwriters to sell their music.
The Lyric and Song library has over 55,000 members and guarantees that lyricists can keep 100% of the sale fees and royalties they’re eligible for on their songs.
Songbay has some great features for songwriters looking to sell their lyrics, including: free legal contracts when selling, complete control over the pricing of your lyrics, and the guarantee that you’ll receive a writer‘s royalty credit if your lyrics are combined with audio to create a new song.
To become a seller on Songbay, you need to sign up for membership which starts from £1.99 a month.
How to make money with lyrics
Competition is fierce in the music industry and making money from writing songs can be tricky. Most of the time, you’ll have to generate your own income by pushing your tracks online, in person, and by contacting industry professionals – but this can still mean facing several rejections before you get your songs accepted.
You’ll make more money from your songs if you’re recognised as a professional in the field. Here are five steps to becoming a professional songwriter and earning more money from your lyrics:
Step 1 : Develop your writing abilities
Identify the “who, what, and why” elements behind your podcast. Who are you directing your podcast at? What is your podcast about and what is the core theme/topic you’ll centre every episode around? And why should people tune in to listen to your podcast; what gives it the edge over other shows?
Having a clear idea of your audience and purpose will keep your podcast on track and help you develop a strong, successful marketing strategy.
Step 2 : Learn to play an instrument
Lots of professional lyricists, composers, and producers learn to play an instrument to path the way to a career in songwriting. Learning to play any type of instrument will improve your ability to hear and read music and also help you understand melody and harmony.
Knowing how to use synthesizers and mixers is also a crucial skill for songwriters.
Step 3 : Consider studying at university
Lyricists who want to become professional songwriters often study to get a Batchelor’s degree in a musical field.
Having a BA degree isn’t essential to becoming a songwriter, but it makes you look more professional. Studying musical theory or composition at a higher level will also teach you valuable skills that you can apply when writing your songs to make them stand out from the crowd.
Step 4 : Join a professional songwriting organisation
Joining a professional songwriting organisation can take you a long way in the songwriting industry. Organisations offer songwriters exclusive perks like the chance to network with industry professionals, to connect with fellow songwriters, and to access career advice – all of which will path the way to securing paid writing contracts.
Step 5: Get your music out there
Whatever level songwriter you aspire to be, the only way you’ll start making money from your songs is by getting your lyrics out there.
Songwriting often relies on a lot of independent income generation; you’ll need to release your music, post your songs on social media and YouTube, and pitch to industry professionals and artists to chase the dream of generating an income from your lyrics.
How much can a songwriter make off a hit song?
There’s a lot of money to be made in writing and selling songs. In 2019, the average salary of a professional songwriter was almost $52,000 a year. If you write a hit song, you can make almost ten times that amount from one song alone.
How do songwriters get paid?
Just like artists and musicians, songwriters can earn royalties and revenue on every song they create.
This means as a songwriter, you can earn money from downloads, streams, and live performances of your music. The more popular your song is, the more money you’ll make.
You just need to make sure you collect the royalties you’re entitled to when you release a song you’ve written, which are:
- Mechanical royalties – for every physical sale, digital download, or digital stream of your song, you’ll earn royalties as the songwriter.
- Public royalties – a public performance royalty will be generated every time your song is played in a public setting (like at a live show, on the radio, or in bars and restaurants.)
- Placements – film and tv companies can pay a one-time fee (called a sync license) to use your song in their show or movie.
- Record deals – if you sign a deal with a publishing company or a record company, you’ll be paid an advance or monthly salary to write and co-write songs to pitch to artists and media companies.
Original song lyrics for sale
If you write original, catchy song lyrics, you’re already a songwriter. Becoming a professional songwriter is just a matter of getting your lyrics out there and getting discovered and signed – which is perfectly possible if you keep trying.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the difference between a lyricist and a songwriter?
Typically, a lyricist will only write the lyrics to a song, whereas a songwriter will write the lyrics, the melody, and other musical components to a track.
- Do songwriters make more money than singers?
It’s hard to calculate a singer or songwriter’s exact income or to compare the two, as how much each profession earns varies massively. How popular and successful an artist or songwriter is will determine how much they earn – but both careers have high earning potential.
It’s thought that a semi-professional songwriter makes more money than a moderately successful singer. A songwriter will earn royalties every time their track is used, and they don’t have to re-invest their revenue back into funding tours, gigs, or merch, like an up-and-coming singer might.