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How to Start a Songwriting Business

Do you want to start a songwriting business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a song writing business with NO money and no experience.

You must have heard so many wonderful songs with great lyrics. Many of these songs have won the almighty Grammy awards and have gone as far as being evergreen because whenever they are listened to, they sound as fresh as when they were first debuted. Have you taken a moment to ask if these singers actually composed the songs themselves?

If you have found yourself critiquing lyrics of songs often and on, or can go on and on about how well you could have written some song lyrics, then chances are that you have a flair for song writing. This means that you might have to consider venturing into this business.

Before starting a song writing business, it is only important that you carry out adequate research on what you are about to be faced with before making a move. Browse the internet to find out ways you could possibly do this. You may also want to purchase books on this subject so that you are in tune with what the business entails.

This type of business is not capital intensive and you can start the business from your savings and from your home office.

If you are hardworking and you have the right network in place, you can generate your startup capital from one business deal. One good thing about this type of business is that you can combine it with other businesses without over working yourself.

Lastly, before launching your song writing business, ensure that you read this article and you will be well equipped. You can start your songwriting business from a small town in the United States and if you are consistent and creative, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand and your business network spread across the length and breadth of the world.

Steps to Starting a Songwriting Business

1. Understand the Industry

Song writing business is part of the music production industry and the industry is indeed a thriving business that has loads of players making huge profits from the industry.

One thing is certain, if a music production company with a creative song writing partner can successfully produce a major hit song, it won’t be too long before musicians and corporate organizations (for commercials and jingles) come calling from all over the united states and beyond.

Statistics has it that the global revenue of the music industry was estimated at 15 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, and that is about the lowest revenue recorded since 2002; of course, it is an indication that the record label industry need to become more creative and leverage on the changing tides in the world of technology.

The strong growth in streaming revenues was not enough to stop the music industry globally from experiencing income dropping below US $15bn for the first time in recent years in 2014.

Statistics also has it that in 2013, the three largest markets in the music industry, measured by the revenue they generated were the United States of America, Japan and Germany. Hence it is no surprise that the most of the leading music production companies that dominate the music industry in the globe are all headquartered in The United States of America.

Recent statistics from the IFPI revealed that the overall global music production industry revenues dipped by just 0.4 percent last year – but that was enough to pull the annual tally down from $15.03bn to $14.97bn.

The biggest offenders for the fall were an 8.1 percent decline in revenues from physical format sales (to around $6.89bn, according to MBW calculations) and an 8.0 percent decline in download sales (to around $3.56bn). Single track downloads declined by 10.9 percent in the year; while digital albums sales saw revenues drop by 4.2 percent.

The Music production industry that song writing is a part of is indeed witnessing steady growth over the years especially in developed countries such as the United States. Though for some underdeveloped countries where piracy is still on rampage, the growth is a bit redundant.

One good thing about starting a songwriting business is that even if you decided to start it in the United States of America, your market will not be restricted to artists in the U.S.; the world will be your target market, many thanks to the internet that has made the world a global village.

All you need to do is to strategically position your song writing brand on the internet and you will be amazed at the rate people interested in producing their music will be calling you from all parts of the world.

The songwriting business will continue to blossom because businesses that are into movies, entertainment and advertisements will always patronize their services. Despite the fact that the industry seems over-saturated, there is still room big enough to accommodate aspiring entrepreneurs who intend starting their own song writing business in the United States of America.

Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own songwriting cum music publishing business could be that the business has low entry barriers, it is a thriving business and the business is easy to set-up and manage with relatively minimal startup capital and manpower and it is a business that is not location bound.

You can have your songwriting business incorporated in the United States of America and work for clients in Hong Kong or any other country of the world.

The songwriting line of business is a silent money spinner. Checkout the lifestyle of those who have written for music legends and you would find out that it does pay to venture into this kind of business.

However, have it at the back of your mind that it requires hard work because no one has gone through the journey of building a successful coy without working so hard. Make hard work your watchword in starting and building your songwriting business and you would be glad you really did.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The persons who patronize song writers cut across music artists, music production companies, music publishing companies and advertising agencies. The truth is that when it comes to the song writing business, there is indeed a wide range of available customers.

So, if you are thinking of opening your own song writing cum music publishing company, then you should make target demographics all encompassing; it should include everyone.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

It is the norm for song writers to be creative and come up with lyrics that will catch the fancy of their target audience; it could be song for artists or theme song for organizations. This is why it seems like there are no niche areas in the industry. But on the other hand, some song writing companies may decide to major in some key areas or niche area such as;

  • Blues
  • Children’s music
  • Classical music
  • Commercial (jingles and theme songs)
  • Country music
  • Dance hall music
  • Hip – Hop/Rap
  • Inspirational – Christian & Gospel
  • R & B (Soul music)
  • Reggae
  • Rock music
  • Spoken word
  • A Capella
The Level of Competition in the Industry

The rivalries that exist in the song writing line of business go beyond competitions amongst song writing companies in your location; you are expected to compete with song writers both within your location and the online community.

Thus, it will be right to say the competition in the song writing business is tough and you need to be highly creative to win the heart of established music artists. The reality is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry.

Just ensure you are good and creative at writing good and trendy songs, you can deliver excellent customer care services and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

In every industry, there are always brands that are better viewed by the customers and general public than others. Some of these brands are those that have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses and the results they have achieved over the years.

These are some of the leading song writing companies in the United States of America and in the globe;

  • Warner Music Group
  • EMI
  • Sony
  • BMG
  • Universal Music Group
  • PolyGram
  • Atlantic Record Label
  • Neutron Label (Own by ABC)
  • Island Records, Ltd.
  • Downtown Music Publishing
  • Artist Publishing Group (APG)
  • Arthouse Entertainment
  • Crutchfield Music (country)
  • Don Williams Music Group
  • Green Hills Music Group (country)
  • Fox Music Publishing
  • HoriPro Entertaiment Group
  • Independent Music Group
  • Little Brother Music
  • Lyric House Publishing
Economic Analysis

If you want to successfully launch a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic and cost analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.

The fact remains that the cost of setting up a song writing company to a large extent has reduced from what it used to be; many thanks to the advancement of technology and perhaps the internet. These days it is now easier to see people set up a song writing business in their house as all they need to do is to register a music publishing business.

If you are considering starting your own song writing business, you might not start making profits immediately, but if continue in the business, it won’t be too long before you gain fame and fortune. All it takes to gain recognition in the music industry is to strive to write a hit song for a popular music artist and your services will be in high demand.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

If you want to own a song writing company, you are only left with one option; you must be willing to start from the scratch.

There is hardly any place where you can see the franchise of a song writing cum music publishing business to buy. The option that is available to you if you don’t want to start from the scratch is to go into partnership with an existing song writing company/music publishing company or out-rightly acquire an existing song writing company.

Please note that most of the big and successful song writing companies around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand.

It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success and of course you can build your own song writing business brand to become a successful brand with clients all across the location where your business is located.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

If you decide to start your own song writing business today, one of the major trials you may likely face is the presence of well – established song writing companies both within your location and in the online community. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.

Technology and the internet can also pose a threat to the industry. The truth is that with the advancement of technology, it is now easier for new music publishing companies to come into the industry and compete with existing record labels.

The internet and social media platforms now makes it pretty easier for song writers both legally registered and unregistered to promote their company and attract new artists as well.

Just like any other business, unfavorable government policies and also economic downturn can pose a threat to the survival of a song writing company.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

When considering starting a song writing cum music publishing business, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow; some song writing companies design their business for national market, while others for international market.

Generally, you have the option of either choosing a general partnership, Limited Liability Company, or even a sole proprietorship for your song writing cum music publishing business.

Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale song writing business especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital and working from your home or shared office space.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

When it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Usually it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.

If you are considering starting your own song writing cum music publishing company, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Co – Creator® Music Publishing Company, LLC
  • Nu Nation™ Song Writing Group, LLC
  • Saint Daniels® Music Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Lyrics World™ Music Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Universal Songs™ Music Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Gifted Hands™ Song Writing Company, Inc.
  • Galen Merson© Song Writing Group, Inc.
  • All Music® Song Writing Co, LLC
  • Classic Media™ Music Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Rev Up© Song Writing Co, Inc.

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your song writing cum music publishing business.

Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own song writing cum music publishing business in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Health/Medical insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Workers Compensation
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If you considering starting your own song writing cum music publishing company, then you should be prepared to secure your intellectual property. If the song you write or publish is not protected by the law, then you should be ready to share your profits with music pirates.

Music can be pirated with the snap of a finger, but when pirates know that songs under your production is protected by the law, the tendency for them to steer clear of your musical work will be high. So, ensure that you legally secure your intellectual property.

To protect all the songs written by your company, you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

When it comes to song writing cum music publishing business, you do not need to have any formal training or special certification before you can be allowed to start a song writing business. All you need is informal training that will expose you to the in and out of song writing cum music publishing business.

On the other hand, you come across any form of certification that can aid you to effectively manage and grow your song writing cum music publishing business, then by all means try and pursue such certification.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hand of the law catches up with you.

These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own song writing cum music publishing business in the United States of America;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Tax Payer’s ID/Tax Identification Number
  • Business Plan
  • Employee Handbook
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Online Terms of Use
  • Online Privacy Policy Document (basically for online payment portal)
  • Apostille (for those who intend operating beyond the United States of America)
  • VAT registration
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • Building License

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Starting a song writing business can be cost effective especially if you choose to start on a small scale by operating from your home or shared office space. Securing a standard and well – positioned studio facility and purchasing working tools and software apps needed for a song writing business are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital.

If you choose to start the business on a large scale, you would need to go source for fund to finance the business because it is expensive to start a standard large scale song writing cum music publishing business.

No doubt when it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your song writing cum music publishing business;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks
  • Raising money from business partners
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

When it comes to choosing a location for your song writing business, the rule of thumb is that you should be guided by the demand for song writing services. Of course, if you are able to secure a central location for your song writing cum music publishing business, it will enable people to easily locate your office or studio.

You do not necessarily have to start by renting a place as your location does not necessarily have to be the one you rent outside of your home. You can actually start from your home.

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

On the average, there is no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for customized software apps and social media management software applications. So also, you will definitely need laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves).

As regards leasing or outright purchase of an office or studio facility to use as your operational base, the choice is dependent on your financial standing, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short term rent/lease while test running the business in the location.

If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal location/facility for such business.

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard song writing business, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer (you can occupy this role), Song Writers and Editors, Instrumentalists, Sales and Marketing Officer. On the average, you will need a minimum of 3 to 5 key staff members to run a medium – scale but standard song writing business.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

The business process as it relates to song writing is dependent on the project they are executing per time. For example, if a song writing business is to handle theme song production for an organization or even a branding and advertising agency, they are expected to have a meeting to know exactly what they want and the scope of the job before they are billed.

Once the contract is sealed and payment made, the first theme song written is submitted to the agency for constructive criticism. The corrections penciled down are worked on and proper editing is done. If the production is accepted, then the balance payment will be made, if not, the process will be repeated until the client accepts the production output.

The same process also applies to an individual music artist who wants to contract the lyrics of their songs and album to a song writing company.

It is important to state that a song writing cum music publishing business may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated song writing cum music publishing business process is not cast on stone.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

Generally, running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to launch a song writing business, then you must go all out to employ strategies that will help you attract customers or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well-known brands that determine the market direction for the song writing industry.

Music artists and organizations will hire your services if they know that you are going to write highly creative lyrics for them and they are going to get value for their money.

As a matter of fact, your marketing strategy will center on creativity, reliability, swiftness, pricing, thoroughness, and above all excellent customer service. You should ensure that whenever your customers hire your services, they will get excellent service.

The truth is that if you are able to put the above stated in place, you won’t struggle to retain your old customers and at the same time win over new customers.

Businesses these days are aware of the power of the internet, which is why they will do all they can to maximize the internet to market their services. In other words, a larger percentage of your marketing effort will be directed to internet users; your website will become your number one marketing tool.

These are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can adopt for your song writing business;

  • Introduce your song writing company by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to music artists, record labels, music production companies and branding and advertising agencies both offline and online
  • Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram to get your message across
  • Print out fliers and business cards and strategically drop them in offices, schools, sports facilities, libraries, public facilities, train stations et al.
  • Deliver consistent customer experience to all your clients; making your first impression count positively to those that patronize your services for the first time
  • Make use of attractive hand bills to create awareness and also to give direction to your song writing cum music publishing company
  • Create a basic website for your business so as to give your business an online presence
  • Directly market your products
  • Engage in roadshows in targeted communities from time to time to promote your song writing business
  • Join local song writing cum music publishing associations for industry trends and tips
  • Provide discount days for your customers
  • Advertise your business in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Encourage the use of Word of mouth marketing (referrals)

17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

If you are in business and you are not deliberate about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be.

If your intention of starting a song writing business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand by working for top music artistes and clients all over the globe, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.

No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market.

Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create a corporate identity for your song writing cum music publishing business;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and entertainment magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community based events
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your song writing cum music publishing business
  • Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
  • Engage in roadshows from time to time in targeted neighborhoods to create awareness of your song writing and music publishing business
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • List your song writing cum music publishing business in local directories/yellow pages
  • Advertise your song writing cum music publishing business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
  • Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your song writing cum music publishing is located
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and trucks/vans are well branded with your company logo