Track Sales: 4 Million
Album Sales: 2.72 Million
Total Songwriting Royalties: 611,520$
This was the statistic for the Song “Umbrella” from Singer Rihanna and Co-Author “The Dream” back in 2012. (Source: rollingstone.com)
Pretty good numbers, huh?
But what does it take to get there? And how high is the probability that your lyrics do the same?
In this article I will talk with you about how to sell lyrics online, common misconceptions and one of the most profitable ways on how to approach selling lyrics.
After reading this article you will exactly know:
- How Lyricist/Songwriter earn money
- The Misconception about “selling lyrics”
- Different methods on where to sell lyrics
- How to make “Umbrella-Mega-Hit“-like money by using your lyrics skills
Let’s get right into it.
How do Lyricists/Songwriters earn money? – The 3 Income Streams
As a songwriter the earning process looks a bit different than to a usual purchase and sell process. It’s more compared to art.
When you create a piece of art, it is becoming your property. So, when people want to make use of your art, they must ask for permission otherwise they are going to violate the copyright law.
This means, when somebody is using your lyrics (usually in a song), they must pay you in exchange. Because the person is obviously using your property.
And this is how lyricists earn money.
There are exactly 3 ways on how lyricists and songwriters earn money:
(1) Mechanical Royalty: It is when the song that contains your lyrics gets sold in an album or is being purchased and downloaded by users legally. The current rate for each sale lies by 9.1 cents (what must be shared with co-writers and publishers)
(2) Performance Royalty: It is when the song is played on radio, streamed or sung on an event. This Royalty is paid out by Performing Right Organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC)
(3) Synch Fees: It is when the song is being used to synchronize in videos f.e. on television, movies or YouTube.
Those are the 3 main streams that a lyricist can earn money from.
Sounds a bit complicated?
Let’s get into more detail
The Misconception about “selling lyrics” – Why you never sell lyrics
So, what do you have to do to give your lyrics the chance of becoming a mega hit?
This is how a usual “sell”-process would look like:
(1) Writing: You write the lyric
(2) Music setting: You connect to a composer who is setting it to music
(3) Recording: You record the song
(4) Marketing Phase 1: You pitch it to publishers and A&Rs (Artists and Repertoire) people
(5)Marketing Phase 2: They pitch the song to bands and singers who are looking for a hit
(6)Royalty Income: If it gets promoted, you will earn the royalties based on how many times the song got played or sold
Pretty easy, right?
Of course, the process takes some time and there is never a guarantee that your song will be promoted. Publishers and A&R people are very picky. And there is a hell lot of competition!
But what I want you to pay attention to is: You don’t actively “sell” your lyrics.
What you actually do is, you put it out into the world and simply wait until your work is going to be liked by someone who is hopefully going to make a hit out of it. But you don’t actively sell it.
But we will come back to this part in a second.
“Are there any easier methods on how to sell my lyrics?” you might ask.
Yes, there are. You can give the process of promotion and marketing in the hands of other people. You call those companies “lyric and song libraries”.
Other methods on how to promote lyrics
Platforms like songbay.co give the opportunity to publish your lyrics (or exerts of it because of copyright reasons) and make it visible to singers, bands, co-authors, publishers etc. Those platforms offer different selling methods. You can either sell the license or the whole copyright. It is recommended to choose for the first, because selling the copyright means giving up your creation to someone else (forever).
You can read a detailed review about songbay.co here.
Many songwriters and lyricists seem to be very satisfied with the service. You can find user reviews here.
Here are some other promotion platforms that are like songbay:
But let’s get to the more important question:
Can you make a living from selling lyrics?
I hate to say that something is impossible. If you really want, you can make a living from it.
But you will have to go through serious and hard working times, like constantly promoting your songs and contacting tons of publishers. Of course, your lyrics have to be good, too. Otherwise there is little chance that somebody will show serious interest in your work.
Good writing, connections and willing to do hard work are the key points here. But there is never a guarantee when it will work and even if it will work at all.
Why is that?
The Problem With Selling Lyrics
What we have mentioned above is: You are never actively selling lyrics.
You have to rely on others to be promoted. And this is where it makes the whole thing very vague and inconsistent. Many songwriters and lyricists go with years without earning a dime for their work. And in one year they suddenly make a hit and earn all the money in one year. What gives a great feeling of success, but also results in high tax levy. Yes, songwriters are treated differently than other authors (like book authors). Songwriters are not allowed to average their income over years.
This is not the only point. Publishers can simply have a bad day and ignore your request, although your lyrics could have led to a mega hit. There are a lot of factors, that are simply out of your control.
If you want to make a living from writing lyrics, you need at least a little bit of guarantee and consistency.
And this is how you can achieve that…
How to make “Umbrella”-Mega-Hit-like money by using your lyricist skills?
To make a consistent and sustainable income with writing lyrics you need to create your own business around it. This is one of the best ways to create consistency. In this way you can promote your lyrics to YOUR audience, that you have created. You no longer need to rely on publishers and A&R people to be promoted.
So what you are doing is, you take full charge of the “selling” – process.
How would that kind of business look like?
Here are some examples:
And this is how the process looks like:
(1) Website Creation – You create a blog that is based on your passion (writing lyrics)
(2) Content Creation – You write about what you love and help people with your knowledge
(3) Affiliate Products – You promote relevant products to your passion
(4) Traffic – After some posts, more and more people will visit your website
(5) Promoting Lyrics – After some time when you gained authority and your audience is engaged in your content, you can start promoting your lyrics, offer hirings, courses, membership areas etc.
The cool thing about it is: While you are creating your audience you improve your skills and earn money.
A good amount of money.
Blogs like mentioned above earn 10.000-50.000$ per month, just by helping others and promoting affiliate products. Here are some examplex (Read the full article here):
And when you have enough traffic, you can promote your lyrics, your services and many other things that you are passionate about. The monetization possibilities are endless then.
Of course, you will need support and a good training to achieve that.
And this is where you get it all…
Wealthy Affiliate – Create a Business With Your Passion
Wealthy Affiliate is a training that guides you from A-Z in creating a business around your passion. No need to learn desperate selling techniques. You are simply helping people with your knowledge about your passion.
You can check out my review of the program. I covered almost every topic. What the program looks like, how much you can earn, customer reviews and many other things.
The course is based on a training that guides you step by step on how to create a business around your passion. It offers a step by step guidance, has all the needed tools (from website creation to keyword research), 1.4 million members that help each other daily, 24/7 support and many more features. It is huge!
The cool thing about it is, you don’t need any pre-knowledge in marketing or website creation. You learn it all through the training. What you simply need is a computer and an internet connection.
The access is free. You only need an e-mail and a name.
As I already mentioned check out my review. The training helped thousands of people making a living from their passion. Maybe it will do the same for you.
If you have any questions about how to sell lyrics or the program, PLEASE don’t hesitate and type in your questions in the comment section. I am more than happy to help!
All the best