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what do songwriters get paid?

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It can vary of course but they'll often get something up-front from the artist/label that wants to buy the rights to record the song and then they'll get royalties every time the song is played..it isn't much per spin but with a popular song, it adds up quickly.

The real gold mine is if you get a hit with a Christmas song that gets played every, single year...guys like Mel Torme and Bing Crosby (their estates anyway) likely could make a comfortable living just off their Christmas music. :)

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Like any published work, songs (both music and / or lyrics) can be copyrighted. You don't need to register it with the government, but, you do need proof of who and where wrote it. If it is copyrighted, and a publisher (or agent) offers them to a singer for performance, the author of the song is entitled to royalties. However, how much depends upon the author's contract. Sometimes the rights to songs are sold outright...sometimes the author gets a flat fee (usually pennys) each time the song is performed...sometimes the author gets a percentage of the record sales.

But, like everything else, if it wasn't in writing it didn't happen. If you can prove that you created the work and that someone else had knowledge of that and used it to make money, and you get a good lawyer, you might be able to sue. (Seems to me that Art Buckwald did that to the Edie Murphy "Coming to America" movie).

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That's like asking what movie script writers get paid...from $0 to millions. It depends on the quality and more often than not the negotiating skill of the song-writer or his/her agent.

Actually, a lot of songwriters here do pretty well...they are "mostly" unknown of course except for those that follow the industry closely.

But you are right; not many get the opportinity to actually make their living just from songwriting and a lot of them make their real living from being studio players.

I'll say this too...anybody who thinks that the entertainment business is in any way "easy" has obviously never been part of it!

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