Music Staff Writer
(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
Does this music career interest you? Is there any more info you'd like to know about it? Post in the comments below. And if you found this page helpful, bookmark & share it!