Staff Writer For Music
(How much do staff writers make?)
As a staff writer you write lyrics, compose a melody, and create your song for a single music publishing company, getting paid through *exclusive* songwriting contract.
Another way to think of music staff writing is "songwriting only" or "royalty only". You don't earn your income from performances as a recording artist but from crafting songs for automatic publishing by the company.
As a staff writer, you are not necessarily part of a staff like a traditional employer, but you are part of a team exclusively under the music publishing company.
Any money you receive upfront is considered a "cash advance" that must be paid back when your song generates royalties from its use.
You set your own hours but you agree to create a set number of songs for the year (i.e. "delivery requirement") for the music publishing company.
Depending on how "proven" you are as a songwriter, you may be required to create 1-2 songs per month...which can sometimes be hard to do.
The creative process doesn't like to be rushed. So many times this means songwriters will work together to complete songs.
Of course, this means any royalties for the song are split between each songwriter even though the song counts towards both writers' yearly quota.
Songwriter Income "Signed" as a Staff Writer
Publishing companies require that the cash advance be paid back in full before paying the staff writer any royalties to guarantee the company's return on investment.
The size of your cash advance depends on whether you're a proven songwriter and/or if you're already guaranteed royalties from a few songs you've written.
- Cash Advance = 75% of the expected royalty amount
- Average Income (Cash Advance): $40,000
- Cash Advance for Proven Songwriter: $0 - $1 Million+
There's a royalty agreement split between the songwriter and the publishing company:
- 50% Mechanical Royalties - Whenever the song is copied for distribution
- 50% Performance Royalties - Each time the song is played on TV, radio, public venues, etc.
The only difference between a freelance songwriter and a staff writer is the freedom to write songs for outside publishing companies.
You are in business for yourself, so it's even more important for you to have a songs that prove your songwriting skill.
Staff Writer Pros & Cons:
- Typically 50/50 split of royalties between you and the publishing company
- Largest exposure to public (based on potential audience size)
- Residual royalty income from distributions and publications
- You're able to work with other songwriters on songs
- Songwriting workload (i.e. song quota) can be heavy and stressful if you write alone
- Positions usually reserved for proven songwriters
So Let Us Begin.
If you're still at the beginning stages of trying to learn how to write great songs then join my training group.
Let's first learn how to write great songs like your favorite hits from the radio and train to become a great songwriter in four steps, and then be guided though building your music business:
Download my free 6-step exercise manual to prepare your lyrical content
for structuring. Having your song lyric fully fleshed-out before piecing it
together is important.
- Learn important skills and tips about each song section not taught in music
theory class to learn how to
structure your next song.
- Follow audio & video songwriting lessons to complete your
- Also, as a member get exclusive deals on all professional songwriting tools & courses offered on this website.
In a few weeks you'll have access to everything you need to start writing great songs. You've already taken the first step by searching for this info.
And reading this complete article proves you are passionate about entering the music business. So take the next step. There's no cost to join and no obligation to stay.
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Updated: April 4, 2020
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