Whether you're aspiring to join the ranks of professional song writers or simply want to find an open mic at which to play your latest tune, a large and varied songwriting community exists to satisfy song writers of all skill and experience levels. The Internet contains a wealth of information applicable to everyone, from the dabbling novice to the meticulous expert.
Many publications about the songwriting community are good for beginners and those seeking a general overview. The sites below offer a wide variety of information about the craft, with facts on some established artists and the business of songwriting.
- A number of comprehensive online-only magazines serve as equal parts encyclopedia and community guide. These, and their print counterparts, are good for general overviews on the songwriting community and for researching business, publishing, and licensing.
- Online versions of popular print magazines often have the most resources and clearly presented information.
- The online versions of songwriting magazines are often mainstream but with a decidedly country bent.
For general information ...
The Muse's Muse
seeks to both inspire and educate passionate songwriters. Newbies and pros alike can find work by up-and-coming independent artists, copyright and publishing information, contest listings, and book and Web site reviews.
For online magazines ...
is one of the more visually pleasing magazine sites, featuring interviews with popular artists as well as reviews, interviews, and columns by industry pros. This site is one of the most entertaining reads on the subject of songwriting.
magazine features industry news, artist profiles, information on copyright law, and more.
caters to independent songwriters. With a song and CD evaluation service, an online magazine, resource lists, and message boards, its mission is to "Empower the Songwriter."
As with poetry, prose, and other forms of writing, there are many schools of thought on song composition. While it is ultimately up to the artist to make or break these rules, understanding the form is the first step to making great work. In lieu of attending a university for a formal music education, you can use the Internet for educational resources, including online study programs.
- Many of the more respected music schools offer online songwriting and music instruction.
- If you plan to attend a songwriter conference and/or workshop, always read up on the faculty before signing on.
For tips ...
contains comprehensive songwriting tips, songwriting articles, advice on choosing recording studio equipment, and more.
helps you make your songwriting into a business. Tips on making music suitable for radio broadcast, forums, and music industry news are available.
offers tricks to help you write that breakout song. You'll learn how to devise a catchy melody and how to overcome stage fright. You'll also find a directory of the most popular song lyrics.
For online courses ...
is the online school for the highly respected Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
boasts self-contained music lessons developed by Berklee faculty and alumni, a library of MP3s, and movies. Use of this site is free and open to the worldwide music community.
Harriet Schock School of Songwriting
is an online songwriting course created by an award-winning songwriter whose tunes have been covered by top artists. It is an eight-week course consisting of nine lessons, sent to you by mail, telephone, fax, or e-mail. The course cost is $550, or $500 if it is all done by e-mail.
For a directory of music schools ...
The Songwriting Education Resource
features a directory of national music schools and centers. There is also a chat room, an archive of songwriting articles, and a "Songwriter's Survival Kit."
If you're ready to move beyond playing for your friends or busking at train stations, you'll need to seek out more professional venues, such as clubs, theaters, and cafés. The sites below offer a range of resources for taking your songs to the public and for finding out where up-and-coming artists are playing.
- Open mic nights at local clubs and cafés, where writers can sign up to play their originals, often serve as auditions for club bookers. They are also a great way to connect with your fellow musicians. Peers are often the best sources of information and inspiration.
- For the price of a usually modest annual membership, various songwriter associations offer special showcases that are a good middle ground between open mics and actual club shows. They also can provide access to often hard-to-contact music business professionals.
- Regional associations can be a great way to connect with your fellow artists and industry reps. Many hold showcases, host monthly open mic competitions, and provide insider status in the sea of opportunities and opportunism that goes hand in hand with the music industry.
- There are songwriting associations in most countries and states. The sites listed below operate from areas with rich songwriting traditions.
- Most established songwriters are members of multiple associations-locally, regionally, and nationally-which is useful for touring.
For general information on gigs and showcases ...
may not be the most visually appealing site, but it serves as a directory to some hard-to-find open mic and songwriting festivals.
Just Plain Folks
is an incredibly rich resource for the global folk music community. It consists of songwriters, music publishers, record labels, performing arts societies, educational institutions, and other members of the music industry who are dedicated to helping one another thrive.
presents a diverse collection of independent artists who have come together in their marketing efforts. You'll find song and performance evaluations, singing tips, and more on this site.
For songwriting associations ...
The World Wide Songwriters Association
Web site won't win any awards for great design, but it does aim to encourage and support amateur and professional songwriters in their efforts to create great music. By signing up for free membership to this site, you'll be allowed to upload your original songs so the songwriting community can hear them.
, home of the International Songwriters Association (ISA), serves songwriters, music publishers, and the songwriting business.
has a directory of songwriter associations in the United States and Canada. If you can't travel to conferences sponsored by the bigger associations listed in the links above, a local association might be a helpful resource.
Songwriting conferences allow songwriters the opportunity to network with a wider circle of contacts. Most of these gatherings feature listening sessions with music buyers and record label heads, as well as performance showcases and panel discussions with professional artists and music business representatives. The sites listed below offer information on upcoming festivals and conferences, as well as archives from past events.
- While a select few songwriters are often discovered at these events and score a coveted record deal, these conferences are networking opportunities for all levels of working artists first and foremost.
- Many of the regional associations listed above host their own conferences. Note that the sites below are larger events geared to the global songwriting and folk music communities, rather than the pop, indie, and rock and roll communities.
, which claims to be the world's leading independent artist and repertoire company, hosts a very large music conference each year. If you can spend your money on just one conference, this is a good one for getting a solid foundation of industry information and for finding other serious artists.
The North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance
hosts a popular international conference every year. This site is a little busy, so rely on the main menu at the left to find the content that interests you. You'll find Folk Alliance news, resources, and more.
The Americana Music Association
is dedicated to promoting public awareness of Americana music. This site supports that mission with its profiles of "Hot Artists" and news updates about Americana music. If you're interested in attending the annual Americana Music Festival and Conference, just check the "Conference" page.
The Durango Songwriters Expo
mixes music business seminars and workshops, song listening/critique sessions, live songwriter showcases, and concerts at two annual events. Check this site for songwriting tips and to learn about the Durango Songwriters Expo's songwriting contest.
The South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival
, held each year in Austin, Texas, is the premier national music conference for music of all kinds, and it regularly features many of the top songwriters working today. If you're interested in music business news, browse through "The Daily Chord."
The business arm of songwriting is as varied as the creative side. Artists who have moved beyond playing for tips are best served by joining a performing rights organization and learning about copyright laws, standard publishing deals, and the intricacies of music licensing. If you are actively recording your work for radio and television broadcast, you may want to register your songs. Likewise, if you need to find out who wrote and owns one of your all-time favorites, you will most likely find the information at a performing rights organization.
- A performing rights organization (PRO) is designed to represent songwriters and publishers and protect their right to be compensated for their music. Performers, writers, and publishers join and register their work with the PROs, while music users buy licenses from the organizations for the rights to use the work.
- Read up on all the PROs to see which is best for your kind of music and your goals. The sites listed below highlight the industry standards.
- Memberships to these organizations come with many other benefits, including industry discounts, insurance, travel discounts, and regular meetings and networking events.
- You can join, pay dues, look up song credits, and register songs online.
- Publishing rights organizations all have valuable search engines you can use to find song credits by affiliated member artists.
For general copyright information ...
The U.S. Copyright Office
has an easy-to-use search engine that provides full credit information for registered music, books, art, and other publications. A helpful tutorial available in several formats will guide you through the search process.
contains valuable information on copyright law, trademark information, and a legal "Learning Center" geared toward songwriters.
For groups representing artists' and publishers' rights ...
Broadcast Music, Inc.
, has represented the rights of songwriters, composers, and publishers for more than 60 years.
represents the public music rights of its affiliated songwriters and publishers.
The Harry Fox Agency
represents music publishers for their mechanical and digital licensing needs and has an extensive site chock full of business information.
is the home of the Recording Academy, which awards the highest achievements in music based on peer review. It also advocates for artists and offers industry discounts.
is an independent, nonprofit organization. Designated by the U.S. Copyright Office, it dispenses royalties for recording artists and sound recording copyright owners.
There are many sites devoted to song lyrics and chords by established artists. It is easy to use these directories to search by artist name or song title and get a full arrangement of a song. The sites below either feature catalogs of work or publishing and copyright information, and they are frequently updated.
- Some sites feature lyrics and chords with arrangements contributed by musicians other than the author of the songs or lyrics. These may or may not be entirely accurate but are still very useful.
- If you do your own search, remember to choose sites that are frequently updated.
- There are hundreds of Web sites that provide lyrics to popular songs, but many of them are input by users and aren't always accurate. The ones we've included here are normally reliable, but if you think a lyric might be wrong check another lyric site to see if it matches up.
is a large lyrics source with about 150,000 songs for perusal. eLyrics.net has a section for featured albums and popularity ratings, as well as recently added songs.
features lyrics to thousands of songs by artists as diverse as Q-Tip and Faith Hill. There is also a
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