Artist Interviews

Artist’s EP: Notes from a Music Lyric Writer

Photograph of the blog post author, Music Gateway Team

Music Gateway Team


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Amanda West is a professional lyricist and topline co-writer, working with bands such as Future Kings Of Denmark, who we actually featured in our August monthly playlist of fresh new tracks to our music supervisor clients so hold tight for a sync placement update soon! Amanda caught the music bug as young as infancy, when she learned to read and write music. Coming from a very musical family, it’s not surprising! As Amanda put herself:

“My Mother and maternal grandmother were both talented pianists, and my Father was big into music of all kinds. I was born listening to rock and rock in the 60s, together with jazz and classical.”

Because of this Amanda has a very good ear, despite saying herself that she is completely unable to sing in tune.

None of us are perfect, we’re all human and that’s why collaboration is key. Especially in the music industry! Amanda added that collaboration with a lyricist is great, as it could mean than someone whose weak area is lyrics doesn’t have to worry about it.

“Some singer songwriters and composers actually don’t enjoy the lyric writing process. Others find that it takes them a huge amount of time, and working with someone else who handles the words means that overall they get a lot more songs written, much more easily.”

When Amanda first started writing lyrics, she joined an online songwriting group of very experienced musicians, composers and songwriters who encouraged and supported her.

“At that point I was happy to work with anyone that asked me, and mostly did. I learnt a few hard lessons early on though (less than decent people do exist). Nowadays I can be a little choosy. I am happy to work with someone if I enjoy their music, if they are professional, and if their music is of the standard required to pitch for sync licensing, or for artist pitches. I am very busy, and so need to ensure that a prospective collaboration is viable for all parties involved.”

Amanda agrees with us on the importance of collaboration, saying:

“People collaborate, in general, to create something bigger, better or different than the individuals could alone. In music, with great collabs, two plus two often equals five or more, rather than just the sum of the parts.”

However, Amanda isn’t just creative, she also has a good business mind and is very active in pitching to clients as she primarily writes for sync. It’s important to keep business in mind in the music industry, as you can have the best music but if you don’t put it out there, no-one will know about it.

“I am one of those strange folks who has both sides of the brain working equally, or near enough. I am very creative (I paint, I write, I compose, I play a few instruments badly, and of course I also write lyrics).  I also love admin work, and metadata, and so on. Lucky for me this means I don’t mind the business side of sync licensing and pitching in general.”

Amanda likes being proactive in pitching to clients, be it directly or to libraries.

“I believe that the best way to promote your music is to have a relationship first with an industry professional.”

Where that isn’t possible, Amanda would choose to pitch directly to decent libraries and publishers online where they have an online submission process.

Obviously, sometimes that isn’t the case and if you don’t know anyone there personally it can be hard to be heard. However, Amanda follows what we would say is a great way to grab their attention whilst still being professional and polite.

“If they don’t have an online submission system, then I never ever ‘cold call’ them. I would study their website to ensure the music is a match first, and then email them with an individually written letter asking if they are taking outside submissions, and if so, how they prefer to receive them. If they decline, I always leave it at that. In reality I do very little cold calling via email, as I don’t think it is very productive really.”

However of course there are other ways:

“The new generation of sync platforms online, such as Music Gateway, are a really good way to find clients, and of course I use these too.”

Amanda touches on something that can sometimes be the difficult to deal with when starting out in sync. That is to say that it’s a waiting game:

“For someone starting out using these sites, they might get disheartened quickly as they don’t realise how long it takes to start making money in the sync business, and that building their quality and suitability for sync will likely have to come first, before they can even start to build a name for themselves and win a license.”

Amanda’s favourite features of the site so far include:

“The combination of pitching opportunities and the ability to store tracks online, and then create playlists for clients outside of Music Gateway.” and “The personal touch given by the staff.  Not all sync companies, production music libraries, and publishers etc are this approachable. My questions, and there have been many, have been answered patiently and very quickly.”

Another few top tips that Amanda would like to offer to anyone wanting to become a lyricist is:

“Being able to write lyrics is not a talent you are born with. It’s roughly 20% talent and then 80% craft. You have to learn the craft. Study the entire music business, not just lyric writing. Study the genre you wish to write in. Read the sheet lyrics of all the successful current songs in your genre. LISTEN to the charts. IMMERSE yourself in listening to contemporary music in your genre. Not just a few minutes. Days, weeks, months. Eat, sleep and breathe it.

“Learn to write music. Trust me, really good lyricists can also compose. Maybe not well, but they know how music and rhythm works in instrumentals and in songs. You can’t write good lyrics without understanding this.”

Do you want to work with a global network of music professionals, including Amanda?

Join Music Gateway and start collaborating!

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