The work of a lyricist is a subject that is close to the hearts of many. But, what is a lyricist? Simply put, a lyricist is someone who “…writes song lyrics for performance in songs, musicals, film/TV, and commercials.”
With their salary range beginning at $0, it is often considered a brave act for someone to decide to become a lyricist. At the other end of the scale, the possibility of earning up to $100,000 per year is enough motivation for some people to actually make the plunge, even though those who make that much are the exceptions. The annual average salary for lyricists is pegged at around $40,000 (source Careers In Music), which is still a good sum for those who really love what they do.
There are two types of lyricists, both of which have their pros and cons; freelance lyricists and staff lyricists.
As the name suggests, freelance lyricists are usually not affiliated with agents or labels. They are pretty much self-employed and operate by pitching their songs to publishing companies or to performing artists.
- Don’t answer to a boss
- Have creative control
- Create their own work schedules and can work from anywhere
- Won’t need to commute to an office
- There is no surety of landing a next job
- Money, or lack thereof.
- Their success still depend on others
Staff lyricists are employed by publishing companies, many of which are based in Nashville. This might seem like a more stable form of employment but being a staff lyricist does have its cons.
- Have many opportunities to network with others in the music industry
- Can get cash advances
- Get a budget
- Often have a team to seek out opportunities for their songs
- Can get valuable insight on their work from others in the music industry
- They have to churn out a set number of songs per their schedule
- The recognition they hoped for may not be forthcoming
- Advances and budgets are nothing more than loans.
As you can see, being a lyricist, in whatever form, does have its advantages and disadvantages. Still, as has been demonstrated by many in the field, it is a worthwhile venture to be explored by those with a passion for it.