Jul. 24th, 2017
The Truth About Songwriting in the Music Industry
Music fans may look down on artist who work with songwriters, but you have to be naive to think every top tier artist writes all of their own lyrics.
We all remember Meek Mill’s infamous Twitter rant from July of 2015 in which he exposed Drake for using ghostwriters in many of his songs. This was the start of a beef between the two. When all of that went down many of us wondered whether or not Meek’s accusations were true. What we should have been asking is: Does it really matter?
Stop comparing drake to me too…. He don't write his own raps! That's why he ain't tweet my album because we found out! 😁
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) July 22, 2015
There are so many artists who are exceptionally talented despite having multiple people credited for lyrics in their songs. Artists like Beyoncé, Selena Gomez, and Ariana Grande are all talented in the art of curation. Curation can be defined as the ability to take charge of, or organize. Curators in the music industry have a unique talent that allows them to convey the message of the songwriter to the listener in the best way possible. They’re able to connect with the listener emotionally.
Drake may not write every line of his songs, but there aren’t many other artists that get you in your feelings like Drake does. That is one of the many reasons why he deserves the respect he gets.
However, one reason that fans might not respect artists that use ghostwriters is that they don’t consider it “real” music. This is not a valid point. The fact is: some artists are very talented songwriters but aren’t vocally talented enough or have the stage presence to connect with a listener. Or maybe they’re not able to get their message out to many people because they have a small fan base. Writing for a big name artist like Drake or Beyoncé allows a songwriter to express themselves through someone else and reach a large audience— all while receiving credit for their contribution.
Selena Gomez in the studio with songwriters, Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter.
Emily Warren, a songwriter for The Chainsmokers, wrote “Paris” and provided vocals for the track. After the song became a hit, Warren was able to leverage her newfound success into working on projects with other artists.
“With them, I definitely have involvement and we’re in touch all the time about what’s happening with songs, such as cutting them. And they’re really cool about when, if someone cuts something and I or whoever wrote it don’t like it, they’re really cool about us going back and working on it with them and meeting in the middle. I really like to be involved as much as I can, and they definitely don’t keep me out of the loop on stuff, which is great.”
Taylor Swift, a gifted songwriter in her own right, “co-wrote most of the music on 1989 with producer-songwriters Max Martin and Shellback (real name Karl Johan Schuster).”
Songwriting has proven to be a desirable profession in the music business, not only because of the money, but also because of the experience you can get from it. Songwriters have opportunities to build relationships and collaborate with other artists and can possibly develop a name and reputation, depending on how good they are.
Brittany Hazard, better known by her stage name Starrah, is a songwriter who has been able to build an excellent resume by writing hits for Drake, Rihanna, Kevin Gates, Jeremih, and many more. Starrah is the mastermind behind hits like “2 Phones” by Kevin Gates, “Needed Me” by Rihanna, “Pick up the Phone” by Travis Scott, and “Fake Love” by Drake, just to name a few.
Artists like Beyoncé and Rihanna hold camps where several songwriters, producers, composers, etc. come together for about a month and work on music for that artist. Each of the participants in the camp are working on music every day of the camp for an upcoming project. The artist decides which songs/beats they would like to use.
Singer-songwriter Eric Bellinger describes in an interview with DJ Vlad (below) the process of one of those camps he went to for a Beyoncé album. He also went to one for Rihanna, but unfortunately, neither artist used the songs he wrote for them. It’s a lot of hard work. Though from Bellinger’s description, it definitely sounds like it is worth the experience for the participant—even if the artist does not choose their song to use on the upcoming project.
Songwriting is just one of the many jobs you can get in music and is an art form that is a very important part of the collaborative process when creating music. Both the artist and the songwriter have to connect and be on the same page in order to make a potential hit. To me, that is “real” music if I’ve ever heard it before.