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How Do I Become a Lyricist?

A lyricist might benefit from learning an instrument, like a guitar.
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  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2014
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A person who wants to become a lyricist typically needs both talent and drive. He’ll need to know how to put words together in a way that sounds good not only on paper, but also when accompanied by music. He’ll also need the drive to pursue this career, contacting those who might be interested in buying his songs and continuing to work toward sales, even if he faces rejection at first. Likewise, a person who wants to work as a lyricist may do well to develop his business skills, as he’ll need to make sure the deals he’s offered are fair and keep his rights protected.

There’s no specific schooling or training necessary for a person who wants to become a lyricist. Taking writing, poetry, and even music-related courses can help, however. A person in this field must be able to write lyrics that fit well with a particular type of music. Often, this means writing lyrics that rhyme yet don’t sound laughable or contrived. Sometimes people in this field also write the music that goes along with their lyrics; these people are usually referred to as songwriters, however.

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Practice is among the most important requirements a person needs if he wants to become a lyricist. He should write regularly, perhaps every day, honing his skills and building a collection of pieces that he may attempt to sell later. An aspiring lyricist may determine that some of his lyrics are not fit for sale, but that doesn’t make them failures. Instead, even lower-quality pieces may serve the important purpose of keeping his creative juices flowing.

It’s important for a budding lyricist to ensure his lyrics will sound good out loud. He may do this by actually singing them as he is writing. Sometimes he may even write musical chords as he goes. For this reason, it may prove helpful to learn how to play an instrument. For example, a person who wants to become a lyricist may learn to play the guitar or piano; this not a requirement for a lyric writing career, however.

Once an individual is ready to start selling his lyrics, he may find potential customers by advertising in magazines and other publications that focus on the music industry. He may also contact companies that buy the rights to use lyrics. Some budding lyricists may even create Web sites through which they can market themselves.

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Discuss this Article

anon333119
Post 9

But those who are really gifted amaze me. Lyricists fall right into that category of amazing as well. It takes a real gift to visualize what words will sound like when sung.

Just take some of the best lyrics in the world and study them on paper. They are often far less than enthusiastic reading material. But when a lyricist can hear it as music, it changes those words into something wonderful.

seag47
Post 8

The freeing thing about going from writing poems to writing lyrics is that you don’t have to keep to a certain number of syllables for the song to sound good. Little vocal inflections and quickening of certain words can make a line of more words fit right in with the shorter lines, and it actually adds interest to the song.

In fact, songs in which every line has the same number of words or syllables can be quite boring. Play around with line length until you get something that sounds good and flows with the whole. Consider listening to Natasha Bedingfield for inspiration. She is excellent at this style of songwriting, and some of her songs are like freestyle poetry that rhymes.

cloudel
Post 7

I have a friend who is great at writing lyrics, but she has no musical ability whatsoever. She is just a good writer, and it probably helps that she is good at composing poetry.

Because I play the piano, she enlisted my help on crafting her songs. She sang one for me, and I came up with a melody. I inserted some musical bars in between certain lines to help with the flow, and we ended up with a song having a unique rhythm that really got in our heads.

We were teenagers when we did this, and we had no idea what to do with them after we were finished. I guess they will just be good memories rather than profitable compositions.

Perdido
Post 6

@Oceana - I know how you feel. I have been a songwriter for many years, and I’ve only been able to support myself by constant touring of bars and county fairs. The music industry is tough.

After reading this article, I have decided to market some of my lyrics to others. I generally don’t write from personal experience, because I don’t like giving strangers a glimpse into who I am. Because of this, I don’t feel a strong personal connection to my songs.

If I have any success selling my lyrics, I’ll let you know how I did it and whom to contact. May we both do well in our new venture.

Oceana
Post 5

This article has some helpful suggestions. I have been a lyricist for years. I also play the piano and guitar and sing. My problem is that I envision myself singing these songs, and it is hard to give them away, even for money.

I think I will try and write some songs based on something other than personal experiences. That way, it won’t be so hard to part with them. I will look into businesses that buy lyrics and music magazines to see if I can find anyone who might be interested.

I wonder how hard it is to sell lyrics. I know that breaking into the music industry as a singer is very difficult due to the competitive nature of the business. I hope selling lyrics is not as hard.

Catapult
Post 4

I think a lyricist really must study music, both song and instrumental music as well. It can show in how things are written if a lyricist did not really understand the human voice, almost as much as if a composer does not understand. One song that comes to mind as an example is The Star Spangled Banner. While I like it and like singing it, the song clearly has some points, both lyrically and musically, which are difficult for people to sing.

whiteplane
Post 3

Being a lyricist is a lot harder than most people might expect. There is a strange magic that happens when a song has lyrics that really resonate with people. There is almost no way to predict when a song will connect and when it will fall flat.

I remember once hearing a radio program where a heart broken woman decided to write a love song as a why to heal her wounds. She worked for weeks to come up with a simple but effecting was to say "I love you". She even interviewed Phil Collins, the king of cheesy love songs. At the end of the program she concluded that simple sentiments honestly expressed are the key to an effective love song. She also admitted that writing these kinds of lyrics well is almost just as hard as matching the poetry of Shakespeare.

Good luck to budding lyricists. You have your work cut out for you.

Agni3
Post 2

Becoming a lyricist is often something that a singer wishes to do along with their singing careers. Just look at all of the singer/songwriters in the world, and you’ll understand what I mean.

Many lyricists also play the piano or some other musical instrument. The fact is that to be successful at it, a person must have a very personal and thorough understanding of music as a whole.

After all, a song is usually made up of far more than words. Therefore, a lyricist’s job is to ‘hear’ how their words are going to sound with instrumental accompaniment of some sort.

poppyseed
Post 1

I’ve always had a real appreciation of music in all of its forms, and find it almost miraculous that there are people in the world who can create it so beautifully.

I’m speaking less of our pop culture musicians and the like and hitting more on the people who are making meaningful music. I’m sorry, but something like ‘Humps’ is really not good music in my opinion.

But, those who are really gifted amaze me. Lyricists fall right into that category of amazing as well. It takes a real gift to visualize what words will sound like when sung.

Just take some of the best lyrics in the world and study them on paper. They are often far less than enthusiastic reading material. But when a lyricist can hear it as music, it changes those words into something wonderful.

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