Songwriter

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A songwriter is a musician who professionally composes musical compositions and writes lyrics for songs. A songwriter can also be called a composer, although the latter term tends to be used mainly for individuals from the classical music genre and film scoring, but is also associated writing and composing the original musical composition or musical bed. A songwriter who mainly writes the lyrics for a song is referred to as lyricist. The pressure from the music industry to produce popular hits means that song writing is often an activity for which the tasks are distributed between a number of people. [1] For example, a songwriter who excels at writing lyrics might be paired with a songwriter with the task of creating original melodies. Pop songs may be composed by group members from the band or by staff writers – songwriters directly employed by music publishers. [1] Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers. [1]

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The old-style apprenticeship approach to learning how to write songs is being supplemented by university degrees and college diplomas and "rock schools". [1] Knowledge of modern music technology (sequencers, synthesizers, computer sound editing), songwriting elements and business skills are now often requirements for a songwriter. Several music colleges offer songwriting diplomas and degrees with music business modules. [1] Since songwriting and publishing royalties can be substantial sources of income, particularly if a song becomes a hit record; legally, in the US, songs written after 1934 may be copied only by the authors. The legal power to grant these permissions may be bought, sold or transferred. This is governed by international copyright law. [1]

Songwriters can be employed to write either the lyrics or the music directly for or alongside a performing artist, or they present songs to A&R, publishers, agents and managers for consideration. Such as Gary Growden, aka Gary Hart, who has been a staff writer for a publishing company in Nashville for many years. Song pitching can be done on a songwriter's behalf by their publisher or independently using tip sheets like RowFax, the MusicRow publication and SongQuarters . [1] Skills associated with song-writing include entrepreneurism and creativity. [2] Staff writers do not necessarily get printed credit for their contributions to the song.

Staff writers

As a creative writer the author of private work includes rights agreement in terms of service declares releases any creative Commons from liability of expressive performances bearing similarities in any connection with unrelative party of experiences of instances relieves indifferencies can bound parties by arbitration legal court of law. In the form of contract agreement as a songwriter also a publisher can appoint a duty of publication of copyrighted works for' 'staffs. Being a staff writer effectively means that, during the term of the songwriter's contract with the publisher, all their songs are automatically published by that company and cannot be published elsewhere. [1]

In the Nashville country music scene, there is a strong staff writer culture where contracted writers work normal "9-to-5" hours at the publishing office and are paid a regular salary, says staff writer Gary Growden. This salary is in effect the writer's "draw", an advance on future earnings, which is paid on a monthly basis and enables them to live within a fixed budget. [3] The publisher owns the copyright of songs written during the term of the agreement for a designated period, after which the songwriter can reclaim the copyright. [3] In an interview with HitQuarters, songwriter Dave Berg extolled the benefits of the set-up: "I was able to concentrate on writing the whole time and have always had enough money to live on." [4]

Unlike contracted writers, some staff writers operate as employees for their respective publishers. Under the terms of these work for hire agreements, the compositions created are fully owned by the publisher. Because the recapture provision of the United States Copyright Act of 1976 does not apply to "works made for hire," the rights to a song created under an employment contract cannot be "recaptured" by the writer after 35 years. In Nashville, young writers are often strongly encouraged to avoid these types of contracts.

Staff writers are common across the whole industry, but without the more office-like working arrangements favored in Nashville. All the major publishers employ writers under contract. [4] Obtaining a staff writer contract with a publisher can be a first step for any professional songwriting career, with some writers with a desire for greater independence outgrowing this set-up once they achieve a degree of success. [4] Songwriter Allan Eshuijs described his staff writer contract at Universal Music Publishing as a starter deal. His success under the arrangement eventually allowed him to found his own publishing company, so that he could "keep as much [publishing income] as possible and say how it's going to be done." [5]

As your face

Songwriters are also often skilled musicians. In part, this is because the process of "working out" a song or arrangement requires a songwriter to play an instrument, typically the guitar or the piano, to hear how the chord progression sounds and to hear how well a given set of chords supports a melody. In addition to selling their songs and musical concepts for other artists to sing, some songwriter-musicians create songs to perform themselves. Songwriters need to create a number of elements for a song, including an introduction, various verses and a chorus. At minimum, a songwriter must prepare a lead sheet for a song, which consists of one or more pieces of sheet music with the melody notes and chord progression indicated on it.

The songwriter may expand upon the melody and chord progression by adding an instrumental melody (which may occur before or after the vocal melody, or alongside the vocal melody) and creating a more complex song structure (e.g., verse, chorus, bridge, instrumental solo section, verse, etc.).

Producer / songwriters

With recent technological improvements, a songwriter can now create commercially viable music almost entirely on their laptop. This technological advancement has made the producer/songwriter role a much more popular occurrence. Perhaps because the role of producer isn't generally understood by the public, the average listener doesn't know when an artist also takes on the role of producer.

Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys is one of the earliest and most widely known examples of a songwriter turned music producer. Within two years of the band's commercial breakthrough, Wilson had taken over from his father Murry, and he was the sole producer of all their recordings between 1963 and 1967.

A beatmaker is a songwriter who creates and composes music or beats for a song, often laying the groundwork or 'musical bed'. Then a composer who specializes in melody will create the top-line for the track. Tools typically used are keyboards, drum machines, softsynths and digital audio workstations. Beat makers or composers aren't necessarily record producers by definition or acting role since they generally do not work directly with an artist in a recording studio that oversees the production and recording of the final product. However, record producers can be involved in co-writing songs as the composer wearing two hats as the producer and songwriter as they may write and compose the original music such as the beat and then oversee the production that takes control of the recording sessions with the artist and engineer all the way down to the mix stage. They are referred to as Record Producer / Songwriters as they generally receive songwriting and production credits for both roles. This is especially true for R&B, hip-hop producers in urban hip hop production, when composing the original music as the co-writer is integrated into their traditional role as a Record Producer, such as Rodney Jerkins, Dr. Dre, Timbaland or Pharrell Williams, opposed to a rock producer that may rarely contribute as a co-writer of a song.

Singer-songwriters

Many singers also write songs for themselves, and as such, they are usually referred to as singer-songwriters.

Co-writing

Songs written by more than one person is co-written, written jointly or written in collaboration with another author. [6] Co-writers may use the “stream of consciousness” approach, referring to having ideas flow rather than being discussed. The first step in co-writing is to establish the division of the contribution between co-writers. In copyright law, there is no distinction of importance between the lyrics of the song or the melody of the song, therefore each writer is given equal ownership over the song, unless another agreement is arranged. [7] "Phantom" songwriters provide small contributions to songs. The songwriter suggests a line for a verse or a session musician who informally proposes a chord progression for a coda. “Phantom” songwriters are usually not given credit.

Top-liners

A top-line writer or top-liner is a songwriter who writes a song over a pre-made beat. Top-lining differs from songwriting in that the writer is not creating a song from scratch, but rather creating lyrics and melodies over an existing music genre, tonality, harmony, rhythm, and form of a song. [8]

In modern commercial writing, it is a common practice for the musical track to be produced first without any vocal melody or lyrics. This is partially due to the rise of portable music production equipment and digital audio workstations that are designed for the swift arrangement of electronic music, such as Cubase [9] and Ableton Live. [10]

The top-liner usually is also a singer, and will sing over the track as the demo singer. If the song is for a particular artist, the top-liner may sing the demo in that artist's style. Top-liners often work in groups to co-write. Sometimes producers send out tracks to more than one top-line writer so that the producer or singer could choose the best option. Since the track is the same, melodies by different writers can sometimes be very similar. Occasionally, the producer might choose a few lines of melodic or lyrical ideas from one top-liner without properly crediting or paying them. These situations sometimes result in legal battles over ownership of the melodies or lyrics. [11]

There is a way to prevent such legal battles. A songwriter can commit their "intent to make a song", which prevents any of the parties ripping the song apart. Some artists send out a legal disclaimer making clear that if their melody isn't used after doing a top-line, it reverts to them, and the track back to the track writer. [12]

Related Research Articles

Musical composition aesthetic ordering and disposing of musical information

Musical composition, music composition, or simply composition, can refer to an original piece or work of music, either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece, or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called composers. Composers of primarily songs are usually called songwriters; with songs, the person who writes lyrics for a song is the lyricist. In many cultures, including Western classical music, the act of composing typically includes the creation of music notation, such as a sheet music "score," which is then performed by the composer or by other musicians. In popular music and traditional music, songwriting may involve the creation of a basic outline of the song, called the lead sheet, which sets out the melody, lyrics and chord progression. In classical music, orchestration is typically done by the composer, but in musical theatre and in pop music, songwriters may hire an arranger to do the orchestration. In some cases, a pop or traditional songwriter may not use written notation at all, and instead compose the song in their mind and then play, sing or record it from memory. In jazz and popular music, notable sound recordings by influential performers are given the weight that written or printed scores play in classical music.

Sheet music is a handwritten or printed form of musical notation that uses musical symbols to indicate the pitches, rhythms or chords of a song or instrumental musical piece. Like its analogs – printed books or pamphlets in English, Arabic or other languages – the medium of sheet music typically is paper, although the access to musical notation since the 1980s has included the presentation of musical notation on computer screens and the development of scorewriter computer programs that can notate a song or piece electronically, and, in some cases, "play back" the notated music using a synthesizer or virtual instruments.

Ghostwriter Writer who writes speeches or texts in the name and commissioned by another person

A ghostwriter is hired to write literary or journalistic works, speeches, or other texts that are officially credited to another person as the author. Celebrities, executives, participants in timely news stories, and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, memoirs, magazine articles, or other written material. Memoir ghostwriters often pride themselves in "disappearing" when impersonating others since such disappearance signals the quality of their craftsmanship. In music, ghostwriters are often used to write songs, lyrics, and instrumental pieces. Screenplay authors can also use ghostwriters to either edit or rewrite their scripts to improve them. Usually, there is a confidentiality clause in the contract between the ghostwriter and the credited author that obligates the former to remain anonymous. Sometimes the ghostwriter is acknowledged by the author or publisher for his or her writing services, euphemistically called a "researcher" or "research assistant", but often the ghostwriter is not credited.

Holland–Dozier–Holland was a songwriting and production team made up of Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian and Eddie Holland. The trio wrote, arranged and produced many songs that helped define the Motown sound in the 1960s. During their tenure at Motown Records from 1962 to 1967, Dozier and Brian Holland were the composers and producers for each song, and Eddie Holland wrote the lyrics and arranged the vocals. Their most celebrated productions were singles for the Four Tops and the Supremes, including 10 out of the Supremes' 12 US No. 1 singles, such as "Baby Love", "Stop! In the Name of Love", and "You Keep Me Hangin' On".

Song structure is the arrangement of a song, and is a part of the songwriting process. It is typically sectional, which uses repeating forms in songs. Common forms include bar form, 32-bar form, verse–chorus form, ternary form, strophic form, and the 12-bar blues. Popular music songs traditionally use the same music for each verse or stanza of lyrics. Pop and traditional forms can be used even with songs that have structural differences in melodies. The most common format in modern popular music is introduction (intro), verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, verse, chorus and outro. In rock music styles, notably heavy metal music, there is usually one or more guitar solos in the song, often found after the middle chorus part. In pop music, there may be a guitar solo, or a solo may be performed by a synthesizer player or sax player.

The Roof (Back in Time) 1998 single by Mariah Carey

"The Roof " is a song by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey, taken from her sixth studio album, Butterfly (1997). It was released as the third single from the album in Europe, on March 20, 1998 by Columbia Records. Similar to the treatments of "Butterfly" and "Breakdown", "The Roof" received a limited worldwide release due to Carey's conflict at the time with Sony. The song was written and produced by Carey and Trackmasters, and is built around a sample from "Shook Ones " (1995) by American hip hop duo Mobb Deep. The song's lyrics recount an intimate roof-top encounter between lovers, and how the memory affects the protagonist. The extended remix features a rap verse by Mobb Deep; both versions were praised by contemporary music critics.

Lead sheet musical score describing the essential elements of a song

A lead sheet or fake sheet is a form of musical notation that specifies the essential elements of a popular song: the melody, lyrics and harmony. The melody is written in modern Western music notation, the lyric is written as text below the staff and the harmony is specified with chord symbols above the staff.

A publishing contract is a legal contract between a publisher and a writer or author, to publish original content by the writer(s) or author(s). This may involve a single written work, or a series of works.

William Wylie MacPherson, known professionally as Bill Martin, was a Scottish songwriter, music publisher and impresario. His most successful songs, all written with Phil Coulter, included "Puppet on a String", "Congratulations", "Back Home", and "Saturday Night". He was presented with three Ivor Novello Awards, including one as Songwriter of the Year.

Chord chart form of sheet music

A chord chart is a form of musical notation that describes the basic harmonic and rhythmic information for a song or tune. It is the most common form of notation used by professional session musicians playing jazz or popular music. It is intended primarily for a rhythm section. In these genres the musicians are expected to be able to improvise the individual notes used for the chords and the appropriate ornamentation, counter melody or bassline.

Wayne Wilkins is a pianist, record producer, songwriter, record engineer, and record mixer. Wilkins has produced such tracks as Natasha Bedingfield "These Words," "Single" and "Love Like This"), Beyoncé, Cheryl Cole, and Jordin Sparks ("Battlefield").

Tablature form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering

Tablature is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches.

Music plagiarism is the use or close imitation of another author's music while representing it as one's own original work. Plagiarism in music now occurs in two contexts—with a musical idea or sampling. For a legal history of the latter see sampling.

Stargate is a Grammy Winning record producing and songwriting team composed of Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, based in Los Angeles. The team's genres include R&B, pop and hip hop. Stargate was established in Trondheim, Norway.

Prosody (music) manner of setting words to music

In music, prosody is the way the composer sets the text of a vocal composition in the assignment of syllables to notes in the melody to which the text is sung, or to set the music with regard to the ambiance of the lyrics.

Ester Dean American singer and songwriter

Esther Renay "Ester" Dean is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. Dean has also written songs for many artists, with numerous Top 10 hits, including No. 1 hits for Rihanna and Katy Perry, earning the name "The Song Factory". At the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, Dean was nominated for Album of the Year as a producer on Rihanna's album Loud. Outside of music, she voiced two of the characters in the fourth film in the Ice Age franchise, Ice Age: Continental Drift, and also wrote a song for the movie, entitled "We Are (Family)". Dean made her acting debut in the film Pitch Perfect (2012) as Cynthia-Rose Adams, a role she reprised for the sequels, Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) and Pitch Perfect 3 (2017).

Tim DuBois American musician

James Timothy DuBois is a Nashville-based songwriter and recording industry executive who has headed both Arista Records and Universal South Records. As a songwriter he wrote five No. 1 country hits. His most successful song was the world-wide hit "Love in the First Degree" recorded by the group Alabama.

HitQuarters international music industry publication and contact database

HitQuarters is an international music industry publication and contact database founded in 1999. It is noted for its in-depth interviews with industry figures, as well as its A&R and manager contact directory, free artist promo pages and song sale facility, demo reviews and A&R chart, and is the sister site to the songwriting tip sheet SongQuarters. The site has been sporadically active since May 2017, and no posts have been made on its Twitter and Facebook accounts since March and May 2015 respectively.

Justin Parker is an English songwriter and record producer best known for his work with female singer-songwriters such as Lana Del Rey, Bat for Lashes, and Banks.

Hal Shaper, 18 July 1931 - 8 January 2004) was a South African songwriter. After qualifying as a lawyer in 1955, he travelled to London to begin his five-decade-long musical career during which he worked with and wrote for well-known artists including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand and David Bowie. After establishing financial stability following the release of his first hit Softly, As I Leave You, he began his own music publishing company, Sparta Florida Inc.. Aside from song titles and lyrics, Shaper also wrote for films as well as musicals.

References

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  2. The quaternary entrepreneur, The avant garde of non-material capitalism, Gian Paolo Prandstraller, 2009
  3. 1 2 "Interview with Roger Murrah". HitQuarters. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  4. 1 2 3 "Interview with Dave Berg". HitQuarters. 4 January 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  5. "Interview with Allan Eshuijs". HitQuarters. 6 September 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  6. "Definition". Thefreedictionary.com. 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  7. "Music Connection". Musicconnection.com. 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  8. Samama, Benjamin (2 March 2016). "What's the Difference Between a Songwriter and a Topline Writer?". Blog.sonicbids.com. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  9. Walden, John. "Steinberg Cubase 10". Soundonsound.com. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  10. Dee, Mella. "Toplining – What it is (and Isn't) and How to Become a Topliner". Mella Music. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  11. Seabrook, John. "The Song Machine". The New Yorker . Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  12. Lindvvall, Helienne. "Behind the music: Why topline melody writing creates disputes between artists and songwriters". The Guardian . Retrieved 2 April 2018.