New artists often wonder how do songwriters get started in their career? This answer has changed quite a lot with the rise of the Internet. This article is going to show some of the traditional career paths of songwriters. We’ll also explore new paths you can use to get started in your songwriting career.
Play In Your Own Band or Music Group
Many songwriters start out by writing songs for themselves. They write songs that they intend to perform as solo artists or in their own bands.
This is perhaps the easiest way to get started as a songwriter. You don’t have to convince anybody else to record your songs or to perform them!
Many songwriters prefer this method because they can execute their idea for their song in their own way. They can sing and perform in their own style and with their own instrumentation and production.
It has never been easier to be an independent musician today because recording gear has never been more affordable.
These days you can access a worldwide potential fanbase using social media platforms. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and others open up a world of potential fans. There are also many independent blogs and websites that are interested in covering interesting musicians and artists.
This is a very popular route because advertising and reaching potential fans has never been easier with Facebook ads and Google ads.
With a relatively small budget you can start reach people who might have never heard about you. In pre-Internet days advertising required huge budgets just to get your foot in the door. Now you can start an advertising campaign with as little as five dollars a day.
Growing a Fanbase on the Internet is much more affordable than even playing live shows. Live shows has been the traditional way songwriters and musicians got their start. These days even that option may not be the easiest or most affordable path.
Recording songs at home on your laptop and posting them online for free is the easiest and fastest way to get started as a musician.
It may even be the most affordable way to get started, especially after you factor in the cost of performing live at a local music venue.
Collaborate with other Musicians and Songwriters
A popular way songwriters get started is by collaborating with other musicians and songwriters.
Many artists find it very stimulating to work with other musicians. Some of the greatest songs ever written would not have happened if it wasn’t for a chance encounter or situation that happened with other musicians present.
Mini famous songs have been written by songwriting partners who bounce ideas off of each other to create the finished product. Many songwriting partnerships work because one person writes the music and melody while another focuses on the lyrics. This is a great approach to use if you find that you are strong in one area and really don’t enjoy other parts of the process.
For example, you may find that you really love writing songs but producing the music and handling the technical aspects is very draining.
As music continues to get more technologically complex you may find this arrangement works out for you. All you have to do is find a compatible songwriting partner who enjoys doing those things that you don’t love to do yourself.
This is popular in genres such as country, rock, and even electronic and dance genres.
Even if you write songs for yourself to perform as a solo artist or with a group, you may discover that other artists want to record your own songs.
Record labels and management teams often look for great songs for their artists to record.
This is especially popular with pop music where a song can be a collaborative effort involving many different producers and songwriters.
Even if you were not at this level, it’s easier than ever to find collaboration partner on social media and music sharing websites such as SoundCloud, YouTube, and Instagram.
The popular band Postal Service got started this way. The producer Jimmy Tamborello and songwriter Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie were collaborating by sending demo recordings to each other or through the mail.
These days, with the Internet it’s easier than ever to share files via Dropbox and record at a home studio. This is a great way to become more prolific and explore new genres and styles of music.
Write Songs and Produce for Others
Music production requires many different skills. Some of the most successful music producers are also accomplished songwriters, singers, guitarists, and technical wizards.
This means that if you were interested in music production, you may also find yourself writing songs for other musicians.
Oftentimes a songwriter or artist will come into the studio with ideas that are not fully fleshed out.
That song idea may go into the trashcan unless the producer can find a way of completing the idea and making it sound good.
That’s why one of the paths that songwriters pursue is to produce music. Being a music producer comes with a lot of benefits. For example, not needing to tour to support their latest release. Some people just prefer the art of music production rather than performing music live for an audience.
As songwriters and band members get older and start families they may find that they prefer to stay in one place rather than traveling and touring all the time.
Producing music for others is a way that an artist can still be actively growing their career without needing to travel. This way you can stay focused on making more music instead of doing other things like driving and looking for parking.
Having a stationary workplace in your own studio is a great way to be more productive and to produce more music.
Working songwriters are more successful when they are prolific and write many songs for themselves and sometimes for others.
The more songs that you create and complete equals the greater likelihood of earning more money if one of your songs turns out to be a hit.
Many Paths to Success As A Songwriter
As you can see, there are many ways to get started as a songwriter and many interesting paths this road may lead you on later on.
However, I would not want to overwhelm you with information and instead I advise you to focus on whatever makes you most excited and inspired.
Start by finding the thing that gets you excited the most and that you can get traction with early on.
There are many music careers that started by accident. Somebody just decided to try writing a song or uploading a video or collaborating with somebody unexpected… the rest is history.
One of the most exciting parts about a career in music is that it can lead you to some very interesting and unexpected places.