Stephen Cirino
2 min readMar 15, 2018


8 ways songwriters can make revenue

  1. Performing songwriter

This is someone who writes and performs their own music and can be compensated through publishing, mechanical and performance royalties along with synch licensing.

2. Songwriter in a band

This is very similar to being a performing songwriter, except you’re working within a band. In addition to working out creative roles in the band, you’ll need to work out how you’re splitting up the publishing credits and royalties.

3. Songwriter for other artists

This is a reliable way of making money as a songwriter, because often you’re working with an artist who already has an audience. You’ll be writing with someone else in mind which can be difficult at first, but many of music’s greatest success stories are between a pop star and a songwriter.

Max Martin has written dozens of number one hits from The Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, to contemporary hits such as “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd and “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift. Songwriters don’t always enjoy the same level of fame as stars, but often have more longevity in the music industry.

4. Freelance songwriter/work-for-hire contracts

This is very similar to being a basic songwriter, but you’re often working on a one-off basis. In this case, instead of being paid in royalties, you’ll get paid an hourly rate or a flat fee. There are many online resources that you can use, such as Upwork, that will let you find one-off songwriting jobs.

5. Lyricist

This is similar to being a songwriter, except you’re working exclusively on lyrics. This is a great fit for someone who was really into writing poetry, but needed help putting those words to music.

6. Composer for film/TV

To be a composer, you’ll need a fairly solid knowledge of music theory and composition. Composing for film and television involves weaving emotion into the narrative. Interning or apprenticing with someone who is already working as a composer in the industry is a good place to get your foot in the door.

7. Jingle writer

Do you think you can write a catchy, memorable song that’s only 12 seconds long? Jingle writers need to be adept at using melody in short catchy spurts. This means creating a memorable song with only three or four notes sometimes!

You’ll need to work closely with the creative team behind the ad campaign to write something that creates instant, memorable awareness around a product or brand.

8. Musical writer

If you’re already inclined to work in theater, working as the musical director and composer for a musical or opera can be very rewarding. You’ll need to have good interpersonal skills, because you’ll be working consistently with the director and other creatives to bring the musical to fruition.

Info provide by Bandzoogle

What type of songwriter do you want to be?



Stephen Cirino

CEO - futuremgmt / Professor @UArts / Director of DEI @UArts / Curator of relevant music business news /