How much do Top 20 songwriters earn?
Old 28th November 2010
  #61
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The short answer to the OP is, "it depends, but ALOT."

That's sort of a tricky question, because when you're talking about those guys, you're literally talking about the top .1% of revenue generators in the music industry (songwriters). Obviously a lot of things depend on how much you would make on any top twenty, like co-writers, publishing contracts, etc. Also, another thing to consider when talking about Dr. Luke is that he owns his own publishing company, and usually owns some of the publishing on the other writers share! I read the other day that every writer in his company has had a pop #1.

I saw that there had been a lot of talk about the mechanicals. There is money to be made there, but it pales in comparison to the money that is made from performances (radio airplay, tv). Also, like another poster said, international performances make a HUGE difference. Someone who has a worldwide hit makes a staggering amount of money.

I had an A&R guy at a label tell me a story of a company in London that they shared a building with. One of their writers had a song that went #1 in basically every country at the same time. (That's unusual, usually the #1's are staggered). The first check to his publishing company for their share of the publishing on the song (which was at most 25% of the total revenue, but probably 10-15%), was 6 million dollars. If you know how PROs pay, then you know that's for 3 months of activity. Now that's extremely unusual, but pretty incredible.

There are a lot of factors that go into how much you make on a hit (even which PRO you are with, there can be hundreds of thousands of dollars in discrepancy between them), but it's definitely safe to say that Dr. Luke makes 7 figures on each of those hits. I mean, did anyone see on twitter the other day in his Avid bash that he said he'd spent over 300k JUST on Pro Tools?

But it is true. You can make a lot of money, but make sure you're doing it because you love it. More than likely, you won't make that kind of money, and if that's why you're doing it, you'll get burned out real fast.
Old 28th November 2010
  #62
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Any idea what the number 1 was?

I thought his rants at Avid were funny.
Old 28th November 2010
  #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnsngwtr View Post
I mean, did anyone see on twitter the other day in his Avid bash that he said he'd spent over 300k JUST on Pro Tools?
Lol. and after that he retweeted my tweet!.. Which means my name is stuck in his head forever!!! ha.. jk. But yeah 300k is a lot just for PT systems...

And I read about those pub companies through numerous articles. I like staying up to date with the lukester for some reason..
Old 28th November 2010
  #64
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Yeah, I recognised your name from the re-tweet.
Old 28th November 2010
  #65
So, now that we've worked all that out, let's talk about something more relevant to people like me. What do Bottom 20 songwriters earn?
Old 28th November 2010
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber View Post
Any idea what the number 1 was?
I don't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure it was a Cher song. Probably Believe.
Old 28th November 2010
  #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
So, now that we've worked all that out, let's talk about something more relevant to people like me. What do Bottom 20 songwriters earn?
You could take a look at my 2009 taxes and find out
Old 29th November 2010
  #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnsngwtr View Post
You could take a look at my 2009 taxes and find out
I bet i got you beat. My last BMI statement showed I owed them $!
It's a very finicky biz and i know a few great former #1 writers who are teaching etc. to make ends meet. The other caveat is that most songwriters I know are trying to find a way to get into film because "that's where the money is". I'm not suggesting you join, but check out TAXI. Many of their recent listings, instructional videos, and testimonials involve film music. It wasn't like this even a few years ago.
JP{ [/I]
Old 29th November 2010
  #69
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I'm involved in film/doc/ad stuff now but to be honest, I find I only get work from referalls etc and people recommending me. It seems very hard to go from small budget stuff to big budget and seems like the only way to do this is to be an assistant to a big composer which I can't afford to do.
Old 14th December 2010
  #70
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6 to 8.5% of dealer price {depending upon territory} for direct sales.
Pro rata for compilations
50% of sync on an MFN basis.

A 3 million unit selling song is more likely to generate a lucrative sync fee - adverts being the ideal - and this can easily double the direct sale income over a month period.

Secondly - once you're on the tier of big earnings - international radio play will net further income.
Old 14th December 2010
  #71
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Hey Narco, sent you an email about finally meeting up.

Maybe after Xmas sometime, realise you're super busy.
Old 14th December 2010
  #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
So, now that we've worked all that out, let's talk about something more relevant to people like me. What do Bottom 20 songwriters earn?
Depends on whether they run the fryer or man the counter.
Old 17th December 2010
  #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by butterfly View Post
I

I think you'll find that if you do a little search on youtube....there's a producer masterclass with Dr luke, no where does he mention that what motivated him in his pursuit of pop perfection was how much others song writers earnt but the fact that he knew he was better than other people who were writing for him at the beginning.
Can someone link me to this producer master class? I can't find it on Youtube. Thanks!
Old 23rd December 2010
  #74
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Does anyone have a list of the top songwriters who have the most top 10 / 20 US hits?

Also, how do you get your songwriting idea across to the big guys like Dr Luke and the rest?

Thanks
Old 24th December 2010
  #75
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A couple anecdotes:

A friend of mine who struggled for years in Nashville finally got one of his tunes recorded on one of Nashville's biggest female singer's album. The album sold over 3 million copies. BTW, unless I'm mistaken the current royalty is $.09 per copy. So at 3 million copies, his royalty was $270,000 -- for one freakin' tune!

Also, I think it was in Forbes or maybe Billboard where I read what various artists made last year. Incomes were down, overall. Of course, a few, like Taylor Swift, made a fair amount from album sales. But what really caught my attention was what Bob Dylan made off song royalties -- that is to say, off people who recorded his tunes and put them on records. It was several hundreds of thousands of dollars, in an off-year... more than any other artist's mechanical royalties... and in fact more than what Dylan himself made in sales of his own albums
Old 2nd January 2011
  #76
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Thoughts from the old school

I find this thread very interesting from the standpoint that I am just a guitar player and not a professional musician. I am already learning from this large forum which was my purpose for joining. I would like to throw in a comment since I have recently been reading analysis of the Beatles songwriting approach. Reading about the Beatles should tell you that I am not from the Katy Perry demographic. My comment is I find it interesting what people consider songwriting today. This Dr. Luke sounds more like a programmer or manufacturer of songs than say someone who has worked long and hard at composition with maybe a masters degree in music to back it up. I may be completely off the mark on this but I'm betting I'm not. My guess is Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney or Mark Knoffler wrote or writes in a completely different way than Dr. Luke. They have command of their chosen instrument to compose on while he uses some looping software and Pro Tools. I would also guess that Katy Perry spends all her time on some lyrical twist than understanding how to use a melodic minor or 12 bar blues scale. Which brings me to my third guess which is that twenty years from now Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Paul McCartney (or their estates) will still be receiving royalty checks and no one will remember Katy Perry or Dr. Luke. Just my little opinion.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #77
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Dr. Luke graduated from Manhattan School of Music and played guitar for the Saturday Night Live band for a number of years. He definitely has chops.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #78
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Considering that the mechanical royalty rate for a song on the radio is around $0.091 (91 cents) per spin. And depending on the publishing orientation divided between the song writer and music composer/producer percentage? You can have various payouts! Most take 50% plus an upfront fee of $25,000 - $100,000.

But I would believe now a days that no one is selling as much it has lowered the bar on song writers fees probably within more of a $10,000 - 20,000 price range only because people got to eat.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stratguy65 View Post
I have recently been reading analysis of the Beatles songwriting approach
Would you share the source?
Old 3rd January 2011
  #80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Thomson View Post
Does anyone have a list of the top Also, how do you get your songwriting idea across to the big guys like Dr Luke and the rest?
Simply put, you have network and meet people. Eventually, if you meet the right people, you might get that opportunity. Unfortunately there is no secret way to get in touch with well-known people like Luke. You can imagine how many people are trying to get at him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stratguy65 View Post
My comment is I find it interesting what people consider songwriting today. This Dr. Luke sounds more like a programmer or manufacturer of songs than say someone who has worked long and hard at composition with maybe a masters degree in music to back it up. I may be completely off the mark on this but I'm betting I'm not. My guess is Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney or Mark Knoffler wrote or writes in a completely different way than Dr. Luke. They have command of their chosen instrument to compose on while he uses some looping software and Pro Tools. I would also guess that Katy Perry spends all her time on some lyrical twist than understanding how to use a melodic minor or 12 bar blues scale. Which brings me to my third guess which is that twenty years from now Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Paul McCartney (or their estates) will still be receiving royalty checks and no one will remember Katy Perry or Dr. Luke. Just my little opinion.
Yes, you are completely off the mark. For starters, the notion that you need some sort of degree in composition to write great songs is false. A very well known example you give is Paul McCartney, who never learned music theory and doesn't know how to read music to this day (same can be said for a plethora of other famous songwriters). Second, Dr. Luke is an accomplished guitarist who studied Jazz guitar and played in the SNL band for 10 years. Besides playing guitar on most of his songs, he also frequently plays bass, drums and keyboards. To paint him as simply a programmer working with loops is very inaccurate. Yes, in this day and age, DAW's have become a songwriting tool. It does not make the craft of songwriting any less legitimate. For example, the expansion of 4 track recording to 8 tracks, etc, was also considered "cheating" by purists. It was absolutely a new tool for composition, and, as a result, opened the door to new sounds, structures, and possibilities in music composition. Third, just as an exercise, please apply your knowledge of music theory (specifically melodic minors) and try to write a catchy pop song that hits #1 and is loved by millions of people around the world. Then tell me that it's easy.

I don't ask people to share my opinion on pop music. I understand it's not the cup of tea of everyone. But as musicians/writers/engineers/etc I would think that people would appreciate the hard work and talent that goes into the music. I may not love country on the whole, but I respect the craft of country songwriting and musicianship and I will enjoy a good song if I hear it. I may not like most hip hop, but I respect the craft of making a great beat and appreciate one when I hear it. That's all I wish people would do with pop music: respect the craft.
1
Old 3rd January 2011
  #81
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Regarding off the mark

Thanks for the feedback. I stand corrected about Dr. Luke. I appreciate your comments about people applying their craft. You are correct, it does take work no matter whether it's pop, country, blues or a symphony. I read where Randy Newman said songwriting was easy for him. I guess he's the only one. I will say that while many good songwriters did not go to Julliard or Berkeley they do understand music. While Lennon and McCartney could not sight read they had an amazing understanding of melodic line and chord structure. I'm sure George Martin helped some but even he says that they knew what they were after. I guess I should qualify my statements by saying I separate ability, execution and creativity. If anyone can write a million seller they will get my applause. I just may not consider it a quality or creative song. I'm just a guitar player and of course I am biased. Every musician I know is so I am not saying this to offend anyone on this forum. Times and music are always changing but my peronsal view is that if you want to compare Katy Perry to a Mark Knoffler well you know who wins hands down. To me the body of work and longevity are worthy benchmarks.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stratguy65 View Post
Thanks for the feedback. I stand corrected about Dr. Luke. I appreciate your comments about people applying their craft. You are correct, it does take work no matter whether it's pop, country, blues or a symphony. I read where Randy Newman said songwriting was easy for him. I guess he's the only one. I will say that while many good songwriters did not go to Julliard or Berkeley they do understand music. While Lennon and McCartney could not sight read they had an amazing understanding of melodic line and chord structure. I'm sure George Martin helped some but even he says that they knew what they were after. I guess I should qualify my statements by saying I separate ability, execution and creativity. If anyone can write a million seller they will get my applause. I just may not consider it a quality or creative song. I'm just a guitar player and of course I am biased. Every musician I know is so I am not saying this to offend anyone on this forum. Times and music are always changing but my peronsal view is that if you want to compare Katy Perry to a Mark Knoffler well you know who wins hands down. To me the body of work and longevity are worthy benchmarks.
Well, thanks for actually reading my points and not overreacting, I appreciate that. thumbsup
I don't wish to impose my musical tastes on someone else, so I'm glad that you understand what I'm getting at.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stratguy65 View Post
Times and music are always changing but my peronsal view is that if you want to compare Katy Perry to a Mark Knoffler well you know who wins hands down. To me the body of work and longevity are worthy benchmarks.
You know what is interesting? You never know what Katy Perry will become... most pop idols go away, but some stick around and create great work, like Prince. Granted, he's a real musician, but I think you get the bigger point... you never know!
Old 3rd January 2011
  #84
Gear interested
 

Follow up on Dr. Luke and Beatles

Again, thanks for the feeback guys. I am enjoying reading everyone's topics and views. Someone ask about where I am getting information on the Beatles songwriting. There is a guy named Alan W. Pollack that has put together the "Official Beatles Canon". Apparently he is a musicologist and did this as a series of papers. It's really very interesting reading and at least for me points out just how differnt the Beatles were in their musical approach. Here's the site:

The official Beatles' canon

Stratguy
Old 4th January 2011
  #85
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Originally Posted by stratguy65 View Post
They have command of their chosen instrument to compose on while he uses some looping software and Pro Tools.
Maybe what you're referring to is the sound of pop music today. There are a lot of computer-programmed songs, instead of musicians playing together.

So it often sounds stilted and machine-like, rather than human and real.

Mychal
Old 7th January 2011
  #86
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It is like asking how much do Hollywood script writers earn.
Who cares, no one is going to read your script or hear your song if you don't know anyone. Thousands and thousands of people want the same thing and most don't come from out of nowhere.
Old 7th January 2011
  #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darthtrader View Post
It is like asking how much do Hollywood script writers earn.
Who cares, no one is going to read your script or hear your song if you don't know anyone. Thousands and thousands of people want the same thing and most don't come from out of nowhere.
They all start somewhere though. And it's usually a person with your attitude that doesn't get anywhere because they've made their mind up that no one will listen or read if you don't know anyone and that because thousands and thousands of people wanting the same thing means it's not worth bothering.

There are lots of ways to get your music heard these days. Luckily I take the time to research these opportunities instead of thinking it's not possible like thousands do.
Old 9th January 2011
  #88
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about half of what top 10 song writters earn your welcome
Old 9th January 2011
  #89
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Songwriting utilizes the royalty business engine, which can be extremely lucrative. Just let it put money in your pocket.
Old 18th February 2011
  #90
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amazing thread
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