How to Make Money As A Songwriter

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It’s Not A Joke

How to make money as a songwriter…. Whenever making money as a songwriter is mentioned, there is often a large division in the crowd. One side will laugh at the thought, while the other is quietly grinding away making things happen for themselves. 

Even if it’s not making a living, there is potential for some money to be made!

It is actually easier to make money, and potentially big money as a writer than it ever has been before! 

 - SongShop Online Song Pitching & Licensing   - SongShop Online Song Pitching & Licensing

Yes the industry is saturated, yes some of the doors are tough to open, BUT! There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Because of the internet and the services available to EVERY writer out there today it is possible for you to get your songs heard by more people, and even dare say the right people!

In this blog we are going to go over HOW to make money as a songwriter. Not the services and how you can use them (but SongShop is one of them :p ). Maybe I’ll cover that in another blog post!

 - SongShop Online Song Pitching & Licensing   - SongShop Online Song Pitching & Licensing


There are three main ways to make money as a writer, and each of them have layers inside of them. It can be a tedious process making sure you have all of your ducks in a row to collect everything you are owed, but it can be done! There are also admin services that do this for you. They usually take 10-15% off the top as their fee. You can check out one we recommend HERE

Sync Licensing 

If you have been a songwriter for the last decade, you know that the sync world has exploded for writers. This is one of the best ways to make some big money as a songwriter these days. It usually offers the largest one time payouts when it comes to how to make money as a songwriter.

So what is sync licensing?  “A music synchronization license, or “sync” for short, is a music license granted by the holder of the copyright of a particular composition, allowing the licensee to synchronize music with some kind of visual media output” (

Essentially that just means it’s a license to use your song in video format.  This can be anything from commercials, movies, video games, TV shows, you name it! 

There are tons of different ways a sync license can work and many factors can determine how much you get paid. Usually the company you pitch through will help you with these details!

Mechanical Licensing 

This is the most popular way writers make money, and is the type of Licences we grant at SongShop! 

A mechanical license is for audio only formats of a song and is broken down into two main categories:

  • Physical Sales 
    • CD’s
  • Digital Sales
  • Services like Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming sites. These are generated from every stream.
  • All international mechanical royalties from digital download stores (iTunes, Amazon, etc.). These are generated from every sale.
  • All performance royalties from digital radio services, TV, live online performances and much more.
  • Any video on YouTube that contains your song.


Performance Royalties 

Performance royalties are generated through things like radio play and live performances. 

These are paid through your PRO (Performance Rights Organization) and the rates vary from quarter to quarter. If you aren’t signed up with a PRO as a writer and you have your songs out there in circulation, GET ON IT! In Canada sign up with SOCAN, and in the USA you can sign up with ASCAP or BMI

If you’re a writer and want to try and make some money, make sure you are getting licenses in place. If you are letting your music be used for free, you are setting a precedent and hurting the industry.  You deserve to be paid!

So How Do I Utilize These Avenue’s?

If you’re interested in how to make money as a songwriter – you first need to find opportunities that can open doors for you leading to licensing opportunities.

The easiest and fastest way to get things moving is to use online services to open some doors for you. There are a multitude of options, and prices vary drastically from platform to platform. Obviously I’m going to recommend you use SongShop – But I might be a little bit biased!! 

The other tried and proven method is relationships and networking. This usually takes years to build the connections you need, and often the location you live in plays a huge role in how fast things can happen for you. 

Either way, big money deals will involve legal teams and publishers, and this isn’t something you will want to try and tackle on your own – especially if it’s your first time! Publishers and agencies will always take their cut. Whether its publishing royalties, a cut of the sync fee, or a royalty split of some kind. If you want the help and connections from publishers, producers, and agencies they are going to need to be paid too. No one works for free, and you really will need their expertise. 

SongShop is one of the only platforms I know of that helps with licensing between an artist and a writer. Using our licensing system can save you some big lawyer costs that might not always be needed in an indie artist/writer situation. It also guarantees the writer gets paid a licensing fee and there is a proper legal document in place outlining royalties etc.

If you’d like to try SongShop out for yourself, you can get a free trial HERE!

Have any thoughts on this topic? Let me know below!

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One Response

  1. Well it all looks like a roller coaster ride with a few hitches.I have already signed up to SACEM in France and Sentric music in England they have even very helpful in the type of advice.This is a great blog and extremely helpful .Thank you

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