Making It As A Songwriter

BMI‘s president, Del Bryant, has this to say about making it as a songwriter:

“There are more people struck by lightning in a year than there are songwriters who take off out of nowhere. It was a tough profession yesteryear, and it’s tough today. A pure writer without contacts is in a world of hurt.”

Average income levels are remarkably low. So low that songwriting cannot be considered a viable choice for supporting a family.

Sources of income for a songwriter include the following:

  • Mechanical Royalties
  • Performance Royalties
  • Synchronization Fees
  • Sheet Music Sales
  • Commercials/Jingles Income
  • Internet Streaming Fees (pending)

Last time I checked the statutory minimum for CD mechanical royalties in the United States was 8.5¢ per unit sold. Generally, the publisher takes half and the songwriter gets half. One person I know gave me his perspective: “in 37 years as a recording artist, I’ve created 25+ albums for major labels, and I’ve never once received a royalty check that didn’t show I owed them money.”

Even if you were fortunate enough to get covered by an artist who could move 50,000 units, your return would be a few thousand dollars.

The music business is exactly that: a business. I have spoken with a couple of artists lately and they were completely oblivious to the economic model for supporting a career in music. They had stars in their eyes.

Once you have a need to pay the bills, such stars fall pretty quickly.

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