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When most people listen to the radio, they assume that the songs they're listening to are the creations of the singers who are performing them, but in fact most popular songs are collaborations between singers, songwriters, and lyricists. Not everyone who can sing can write music or lyrics, and vise versa, but this will not necessarily keep you out of the recording industry if you know who to talk to. If this surprises you, then you should keep reading to learn about how amazing real singer-songwriters really are. The Book of Jubilations can help.
If you want to learn about how the typical song that you hear on the radio is created, you should watch the film Music and Lyrics. Sure, it's a lighthearted romantic comedy, but it also gives you a glimpse into the inner workings of the music industry. There's the star act, who is often signed by a record company because of his or her voice, looks, or stage presence who is contracted to sing the songs and often puts in orders for what type of songs he or she would like. Then there's the songwriter - who is hired by the star's staffers to write the song he or she is looking for.
The life of a songwriter can be a tough one. Often songwriters are attempting to secure recording careers of their own, but due to a lack of mass appeal will likely never reach the level the star talent has risen to. These songwriters supplement their incomes as performers by writing songs for other artists. Sometimes two or more songwriters will be hired for the same project and made to compete against one another for the final contract. Some songwriters are good with musical arrangements but not lyrics, and have partnered with a lyricist, like the main character in Music and Lyrics. But plenty of songwriters can do both.
If the songwriter's song is selected, it will be performed as if it were the artist's own, with music videos and albums and posters and tours. The only nod to the songwriter who created the material is a small blurb in the CD jacket or in the titles for the music video or feature film it was included in. For many songwriters, this is the closest they will come to seeing their name in lights, which can be tough but at least their bills are getting paid. Most songwriters live their lives this way, which makes the multitalented singer-songwriters that much more impressive.
To be a singer-songwriter, you not only have to have a great voice but you also have to have a solid grasp of music and poetry to be able to write your own arrangements and lyrics. Some singer-songwriters are self taught, but many have studied in prestigious university music programs. Often the singer-songwriter's musical talents will not be limited to the use of their voice, either, as many can also play an instrument such as the guitar or piano, on which they write and perform their musical arrangements.
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