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A songwriter is one who writes the lyrics or music for songs (or both). One who writes only lyrics may be called a lyricist, while one who writes only music may be called a composer. Although songwriters of the past commonly composed, arranged and played their own songs, more recently the pressure to produce popular hits has tended to distribute responsibility between a number of people. Popular culture songs may be written by group members, but are now often written by staff writers: songwriters directly employed by music publishers.
Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers.
The old-style apprenticeship approach to learning how to write songs is being supplemented by some universities and colleges and rock schools. A knowledge of modern music technology and business skills are seen as necessary to make a songwriting career, and music colleges offer songwriting diplomas and degrees with music business modules.
Since songwriting and publishing royalties can be a substantial source of income, particularly if a song becomes a hit record, legally, in the US, songs written after 1934 may only be copied or performed publicly by permission of the authors. The legal power to grant these permissions may be bought, sold or transferred. This is governed by international copyright law.
Sir Paul McCartney is the most successful songwriter, having written/co written 188 charted records, 91 of which reached the Top 10 and 33 made it to number 1, totaling 1,695 weeks on the chart. The second most successful songwriter is fellow Beatle John Lennon having 1424 weeks charted.
The Hit Makers
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