How to Become a Ghostwriter for Singers

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Becoming a ghostwriter for a singer might be more challenging than you think.
Becoming a ghostwriter for a singer might be more challenging than you think. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Perhaps you have a talent for songwriting, but don't have the singing chops or desire to get out on the stage yourself. A career as a ghostwriter for singers might be one of your better options to still have shot at being involved in the music industry. However, getting involved in writing songs for other people may be more challenging than you may think; it takes more than a talent for songwriting, you also have to know how to get your creations into the hands of the right people.

Sign up for a membership with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers or Broadcast Music, Inc. Both of these organizations work with songwriters -- including those that ghostwrite for other people -- to ensure that the rights to their songs, and any ensuing royalties, are properly managed. Both provide ghostwriters with access to resources and education on the music industry and the rights of the musicians on all levels.

Develop a cache of songs from which an artist can choose. If you approach a musician with just one song or song type, then you may find that he vetoes it without really knowing what his other options are in terms of song choice. Develop a range of songs within the genre you are pitching, from ballads to more up-tempo numbers.

Copyright your music. This ensures that other artists won't just outright steal your music and move on, as if they wrote the song themselves. In fact, you would do well to retain the services of a manager, agent or law professional to help you negotiate contracts and navigate the copyright process. Once you sell a song, you must do whatever is necessary to protect your creative investment, even if you can't take official credit for the song. You should still be properly compensated, and in this instance, that might include royalties from the song, which could equal high dollar amounts if the song does well.

Record your songs so the artist can hear how they sound. It is much harder to visualize how words might sound put to music when reading them on a sheet of paper. Team up with a musical composer to bring the song to life musically. If you don't have musical skills of your own beyond the writing, then ask another singer or musician to perform the song for you for your ghostwriting demo track.

Market yourself. There are several key ways in which to do this. Establish a website with a bio, photos, samples of your music and contact information. Design business cards with the same information. Also, make sure you have a business email address, where individuals can query you for additional information about your songwriting services. Make it clear on your website that what you offer is a ghostwriting song service, so that people don't mistake you for an artist.

Network in the music industry as much as you possibly can. Start local, by getting involved in local DJ pools, musical groups and working with club promoters. The more contacts you can make, the more widely you can cast your net in terms of approaching singers to work with you and record your songs.

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