Songwriters and composers both have a role in creating songs, but they do it in different ways. Songwriters typically write the lyrics and music for a song, while composers usually just write the music.
Songwriters are responsible for molding the lyrics and music together to create a song. They may also be involved in the performance of their own works, but this is not always the case. They often work with other songwriters, composers, and musicians to create their songs.
Musicians play instruments or sing, but they don’t typically write lyrics or music. A musician is someone who plays an instrument or sings but does not write lyrics or music.
A musician may perform music that has been written by a songwriter or composer, but they do not create the music themselves.
So songwriters and composers are both musicians, but not all musicians are songwriters or composers.
What is songwriting
Songwriting is the process of writing lyrics and music for a song. Songwriters may work on songwriting by themselves or with a songwriter/artist collaboration.
Songwriters typically work with both lyrical and instrumental elements, while composers may only work with instrumental elements.
Songwriters typically spend a lot of time singing or playing an instrument which they incorporate into their songwriting process.
What songwriters do differently than composers or musicians
Songwriters are responsible for writing the lyrics and melody of a song. They often work with music producers and other musicians to create a song.
The songwriter’s job typically includes being the song’s lyricist as well as the song’s composer. They work collaboratively or alone with other songwriters, composers, or music producers to create a song with a musical identity.
Composers, on the other hand, write the music for a song, but they may not write the lyrics. They write the music and often orchestrate it as well. They often create background music for movies, television shows, video games, etc.
The main difference between a songwriter and a composer is that songwriters write both the lyrics and the melody of a song, while composers only write the music.
Examples of Famous Songwriters
Some famous songwriters are Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney. They are all famous for songwriting and have written songs that have become classics.
These songwriters wrote both the lyrics and the music for their songs, which is what makes them songwriters. They worked with other songwriters, producers, and musicians to create their songs.
Examples of Famous Composers
The most famous composers wrote classical music such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Antonio Vivaldi.
They are all famous for composing music that has become classic. These composers wrote the music for their pieces but did not write any lyrics.
Examples of Famous Modern Composers
Examples of famous modern composers are John Williams, who has written the music for Star Wars and ET, and Hans Zimmer who wrote the music for The Lion King.
What does a Music Producer Do?
Music producers often work with songwriters to refine their songwriting skills. They may help songwriters find the right sound for their song, or they may help with song arrangement.
Producers help people who are making songs find the right sound. They help them find what to do with the song when they are recording it in the studio. Music producers also make sure the song is ready to be recorded and pitched to a record label.
Songwriters and Collaboration
Songwriters often collaborate on songwriting projects for music, such as songwriting on Broadway musicals. For example, a songwriter who can’t play an instrument might call upon a songwriter who can and vice versa.
Songwriting teams on Broadway are often made up of a composer who writes the music and a lyricist who writes all the words. They may both collaborate on the melody.
What Does a Lyricist Do?
Lyricists are songwriters who write the lyrics for songs. They create the words that will be sung or rapped in a song.
A songwriter may also be a composer, however, a composer is not a songwriter. A songwriter is someone who writes lyrics and music, while a composer is someone who writes music.
Songwriters, Composers, and Musicians are Paid Differently
It matters how an artist is credited because it determines their rights to royalty payments. Royalties are paid according to the role of the artist.
Songwriters typically have rights to the lyrics, melody, and underlying composition of the entire song. If they recorded the song, they also get rights to payment for appearing on the recording.
Composers have rights to the musical composition itself. If their songs get recorded they would have a right to royalties for the underlying composition only.
Musicians are compensated if they appear on a recording. However, they would not have any rights to the song itself if someone else recorded it.
A music producer also has rights that are unique to the other artists. This is because music producers are often involved in multiple parts of the song creation process. They may have a part as songwriters, composers, and appear on the recording as musicians.
As you can see, these are important distinctions and it’s helpful to know the differences.
To Sum It All Up…
Songwriters are composers, musicians, and lyricists. Composers focus only on the music while lyricists only write the words. Musicians play the music that all of these folks create. An artist can do all of the roles, however, the way they are credited matters. (Especially when it comes time to pay royalties when their song becomes a hit!)
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the different roles musicians and artists play (pun intended!) Music is a powerful force in the world and we hope you’ve been inspired to create some music yourself!