A songwriter is a professional that writes lyrics or composes backing tracks for artists and
The old-style apprenticeship approach to learning how to write songs is being supplemented by
Songwriters can be employed to write either the lyrics or the music directly for or alongside a performing artist, or they present songs to
Songwriters who sign an exclusive songwriting agreement with a publisher are called staff writers. 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.
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. 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. 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. In an interview with
Unlike contracted writers, some staff writers operate as employees for their respective publishers. Under the terms of these
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. 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. Songwriter