How Can I Become a Lyricist?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a lyricist. Read on to learn more about career options along with education and salary information. Schools offering Ethnomusicology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Lyricist?

Lyricists are people who write songs and sell them to musicians, music producers and others. Some lyricists may choose to write and perform their own songs. Lyricists may also help write various kinds of advertisements, such as jingles and slogans for a particular product. They may also specialize in writing songs for different music styles. These professionals may give drafts of their work to their clients or editors to receive feedback and make necessary adjustments.

You can learn more about this career in the chart below.

Degree Required No degree is required, but a bachelor's or master's may be helpful
Education Field of Study English or creative writing
Key Skills Writing ability, critical thinking, and time management
Job Growth (2014-24) 2% for writers and authors*
Average Salary (2015) $69,130 for writers and authors*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do I Need a Degree to Be a Lyricist?

A bachelor's degree is not required to work as a lyricist, but having a formal education offers many advantages. The world of writing lyrics and songs is competitive, so having both a degree and writing experience provides you more opportunities to work as a lyricist. High school experience may include writing for the school newspaper and entering various writing contests that focuses on creativity such as poetry and song-writing.

In college, you may want to consider a bachelor's degree in creative writing, English, poetry or a related major. Courses in music theory, history, communication, journalism and in the arts may help develop your skills as a lyricist.

If you're interested in a graduate education, a fine arts master's program may provide opportunities for employment and publication for lyricists and creative writers. You can gain writing experience by writing for a publication, contributing to a blog or reviewing music. Other opportunities include writing for talent shows, theater programs and local concerts.

What Skills Do I Need?

You need a strong knowledge of poetics such as rhyme, meter, wordplay, metaphor and imagery, as well as musical intuition about verses, choruses, refrains and codas to work as a successful lyricist. Transforming this knowledge into lyrics requires originality, vision, creativity, critical thinking, dedication and self-confidence. To get your songs noticed, you also need to be business savvy, well-organized, communicative and trustworthy.

Other skills include writing and reading comprehension, originality, critical thinking and time management. Knowledge of computers and music software may help you craft and promote your lyrics to musicians, producers and others.

What Could My Job Look Like Day to Day?

If you freelance as a lyricist, you take jobs as they come. You solicit new work and show initiative in completing current projects on time and as requested. A lyricist's work is highly independent, and you need to develop and keep to a schedule to meet deadlines. You also need to be flexible to change and criticism and act calmly in highly stressful situations.

Your work hours will vary depending on the scope of your project and the deadline given. You may have to work nights and weekends. You may also work closely with artists and producers in a studio.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are several related career options that require a bachelor's degree, such as editors and technical writers and fundraising managers. Editors may plan, review and revise songs, books and other written works. They check written content for readability and grammatical errors prior to publication. Technical writers specialize in writing complex and technical information. They may help create instruction manuals or how-to guides.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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