Songwriter

A songwriter is a professional that writes lyrics or composes musical compositions 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 with writing and composing the original musical composition or musical bed. A songwriter that writes the lyrics/words are referred to as lyricist. The pressure from the music industry to produce popular hits means that songwriting 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 written 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]

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 necessary 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. 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

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.[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. 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 musicians

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. 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

When a song is written by more than one person, it is co-written, or written jointly or in collaboration with another author.[6] Co-writers create songs in different ways. Some co-writers use a "stream of consciousness" approach, throwing out every single line or word or rhyme that comes to them. By letting ideas flow, this generates potential lyrics and song structures more effectively than trying to writing the song by discussing options. Co-writing can help two creators with different talents and strengths to create a new song that neither could have been able to devise if they were working alone.[7] 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 ownership equally over all of the song, unless another agreement is arranged.[8] "Phantom" songwriters are those who provided small contributions to the song, such as a band member who suggests a line for a verse or a session musician who informally proposes a chord progression for a coda. Once a songwriter is acknowledged as a cowriter on the project, this is almost impossible to undo, so "phantom" songwriters are not usually given credit.

Top-liners

A 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.[9]

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 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. Topliners 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 topline, it reverts to them, and the track back to the track writer.[12]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "How to pitch your songs to industry insiders". EMusician. 1 July 2007. Archived from the original on 2010-07-24. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  2. ^ The quaternary entrepreneur, Gian Paolo Prandstraller - 2009
  3. ^ a b "Interview with Roger Murrah". HitQuarters. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  4. ^ a b c "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". 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  7. ^ "Co-Writing". 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  8. ^ "Music Connection". 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  9. ^ Samama, Benjamin (2 March 2016). "What's the Difference Between a Songwriter and a Topline Writer?". sonicbids.com. Sonicbids Inc. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  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.
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Benny Blanco

Benjamin Joseph Levin (born March 8, 1988), known professionally as Benny Blanco (stylized as benny blanco), is an American record producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He is the recipient of the 2013 Hal David Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is also a five-time BMI Songwriter of the Year award winner and 2017 iHeartRadio Producer of the Year award winner.

As a producer and songwriter, Blanco is responsible for more than 100 million album sales worldwide due to his work with artists including Halsey, Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Kesha, Sia, The Weeknd, Selena Gomez, Keith Urban, Tory Lanez, Wiz Khalifa, Kanye West, and Juice Wrld. He is also the founder of two labels in collaboration with Interscope Records, Mad Love Records and Friends Keep Secrets.In July 2018, Blanco released the song "Eastside" under his own name, a collaboration with Halsey and Khalid. It peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking Blanco's first top 10 credited as an artist and his 27th top 10 as a writer, a sum that includes seven number one's. "Eastside" was followed by "I Found You" with Calvin Harris, "Better to Lie" with Jesse and Swae Lee, "Roses" with Juice WRLD and Brendon Urie, and culminated in the release of his first album later in the same year.

Charlie Puth

Charles Otto Puth Jr. (; born December 2, 1991) is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. His initial exposure came through the viral success of his song videos uploaded to YouTube.

"See You Again" was released as Puth's debut single in 2015, which he co-wrote, co-produced, and performed with Wiz Khalifa for the Furious 7 soundtrack as a tribute to Paul Walker. It peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 for 12 non-consecutive weeks. After the success of "See You Again", he gained worldwide recognition for multiple subsequent releases, including his debut single "Marvin Gaye", which featured American singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor. The song topped charts in New Zealand, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

Puth's debut studio album, Nine Track Mind, was released in January 2016, and was preceded by the singles "One Call Away" and "We Don't Talk Anymore", which peaked at number 12 and number nine, respectively on the US Billboard Hot 100. In 2017, he released two songs, "Attention" and "How Long" from his second studio album, Voicenotes, with the former peaking at number five on Billboard Hot 100.

Chris Stapleton

Christopher Alvin Stapleton (born April 15, 1978) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. He was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and grew up in Staffordsville, Kentucky, until moving to Nashville, Tennessee, in 2001 to pursue a career in music writing songs. Subsequently, Stapleton signed a contract with Sea Gayle Music to write and publish his music.As of 2018 Stapleton has amassed credits writing and co-writing over 170 songs. He has co-written six number-one country songs including Kenny Chesney's five-week number-one "Never Wanted Nothing More", George Strait's "Love's Gonna Make It Alright", and Luke Bryan's "Drink a Beer". His songs have appeared on many artists albums including Adele, Brad Paisley, and Dierks Bentley. He has co-written with several artists as well including Vince Gill, Peter Frampton, and Sheryl Crow. Stapleton has been recognized with several awards including five Grammy Awards, seven Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards, and ten Country Music Association (CMA) Awards.

As a vocalist, Stapleton sang lead in two bands before he started recording as a solo artist including a bluegrass ensemble from 2008 to 2010 called The SteelDrivers. After that, he released his solo debut: the critically acclaimed studio album titled Traveller (2015), which reached number one on the US Billboard 200 and was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). His second studio album From A Room: Volume 1 was released in May 2017, and earned him a second CMA Award for Album of the Year and also a Grammy Award for Best Country Album. From A Room: Volume 2 was released in December 2017.

Diane Warren

Diane Eve Warren (born September 7, 1956) is an American songwriter. She rose to prominence in 1983, and has since written songs for and co-written songs with multiple singers, as well as for several films.

Warren has had nine number-one songs and 32 top 10 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Additionally, two of the top 13 hits in the Hot 100's 57-year history were written by her.

Warren's career catapulted in the late 1980s shortly after joining forces with the UK music company EMI when Warren became the first songwriter in the history of Billboard magazine to have seven hits, all by different artists, on the singles chart at the same time prompting the UK's former Chairman of EMI Music Publishing Peter Reichardt to credit her as "the most important songwriter in the world". She has been rated the third most successful female artist in the UK.

Warren has won a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, three consecutive Billboard Music Awards for Songwriter of the Year, and has been nominated for ten Academy Awards. She has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her UK success saw her win an Ivor Novello Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors when she received the Special International Award in 2008. Warren owns a publishing company, Realsongs, which gives her control over her compositions.

Harry Nilsson

Harry Edward Nelson III (June 15, 1941 – January 15, 1994), usually credited as Nilsson, was an American singer-songwriter who achieved the peak of his commercial success in the early 1970s. His work is characterized by pioneering vocal overdub experiments, returns to the Great American Songbook, and fusions of Caribbean sounds. A tenor with a 3½ octave range, Nilsson was one of the few major pop-rock recording artists of his era to achieve significant commercial success without ever performing major public concerts or undertaking regular tours. The craft of his songs and the defiant attitude he projected remains a touchstone for later generations of indie rock musicians.Born in Brooklyn, Nilsson moved to Los Angeles as a teenager to escape his family's poor financial situation. While working as a computer programmer at a bank, he grew interested in musical composition and close-harmony singing, and was successful in having some of his songs recorded by various artists such as the Monkees. Born Harry E. Nelson III, he adopted the Swedish spelling of his name after he began his music career. In 1967, he debuted on RCA Victor with the LP Pandemonium Shadow Show, followed by a variety of releases that include a collaboration with Randy Newman (Nilsson Sings Newman, 1970) and the original children's story The Point! (1971). His most commercially successful albums, Nilsson Schmilsson (1971) and Son of Schmilsson (1972), produced the international top 10 singles "Without You" (1971) and "Coconut" (1972). His other top 10 hit, "Everybody's Talkin'" (1968), was a prominent song in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy. A version of Nilsson's "One", released by Three Dog Night in 1969, also reached the U.S. top 10.

During a 1968 press conference, the Beatles were asked what their favorite American group was and answered "Nilsson". He soon formed close friendships with John Lennon and Ringo Starr. In the 1970s, Nilsson and Lennon were members of the Hollywood Vampires drinking club, embroiling themselves in a number of widely publicized, alcohol-fueled incidents. At the same time, they produced one collaborative album, Pussy Cats (1974). After 1977, Nilsson left RCA, and his record output diminished. In response to Lennon's 1980 murder, he took a hiatus from the music industry to campaign for gun control. For the rest of his life, he recorded only sporadically.

Nilsson created the first remix album (Aerial Pandemonium Ballet, 1971) and recorded the first mashup song ("You Can't Do That", 1967). He was voted No. 62 in Rolling Stone's 2015 list of the "100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time", where he was described as "a pioneer of the Los Angeles studio sound, a crucial bridge between the baroque psychedelic pop of the late Sixties and the more personal singer-songwriter era of the Seventies". The RIAA certified Nilsson Schmilsson and Son of Schmilsson as gold records, indicating over 500,000 units sold each. His honors include Grammy Awards for two of his recordings; Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Male in 1970 for "Everybody's Talkin'" and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male in 1973 for "Without You". In 1994, Nilsson died of a heart attack while in the midst of recording new material for a since-unreleased comeback album.

Julia Michaels

Julia Carin Cavazos (born November 13, 1993), known professionally as Julia Michaels, is an American singer and songwriter from Davenport, Iowa. She began her career as a pop music songwriter, penning tracks that have been recorded by Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Fifth Harmony, Shawn Mendes, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Hailee Steinfeld, and Gwen Stefani. Michaels released her debut solo single with Republic Records in 2017, "Issues", which peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, was certified triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and garnered her Grammy Award nominations for Song of the Year and Best New Artist. Her major-label debut extended play, Nervous System (2017), peaked at number 48 on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States. She has also received nominations for MTV Music Video, Billboard Music, and American Music Awards.

List of Canadian musicians

This is a list of Canadian musicians. Only notable individuals appear here; bands are listed at List of bands from Canada.

October 3

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Singer-songwriter

Singer-songwriters are musicians who write, compose, and perform their own musical material, including lyrics and melodies.

The genre began with the folk-acoustic tradition. Singer-songwriters often provide the sole accompaniment to an entire composition or song, typically using a guitar or piano.

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