With experience, songwriters can progress into the world of music production

Requirements: Songwriters must be musically creative and have a basic knowledge of music theory. Playing at least one instrument, ideally piano or keyboard, is easier for arranging chords.

Qualifications: There are no specific academic qualifications required to enter the pop music industry, but good performance skills and a knowledge of music are essential.

Many songwriters do not have formal music training, having taught themselves to play and write music.

According to songwriter Christopher Chak, formal training, such as studying composing music at a post-secondary institute or a music degree at university, can be helpful. He says these qualifications are not essential but they do offer hopeful songwriters an advantage.

Chak adds that knowledge of music editing computer software, such as Sonar or Cubase, is definitely useful when processing demos and songs.

Average salary: Songwriters usually work on a freelance or project basis, and the pay varies. They are paid for each song they sell.

If the song sells, they could earn royalties.

Work prospects: It is best to start in this career as a part-time, freelance composer. Chak says it is very hard to go into it as a full-time job. A songwriter needs to be patient - not everything they write will become a best-selling hit. They need to keep their eyes open for opportunities, and take them.

Pay may be quite low to begin with, but if a songwriter becomes popular, better pay and opportunities will come.

Songwriters can develop their career in other directions once they become more well known. For example, they can work on song arrangements and other aspects of production.

Eventually they can start their own company or a label, and sign up other songwriters.

Long-term prospects: Once a songwriter gains recognition within the music industry, they can work as a music producer, managing the different parts of the creation of songs.

For example, producers can choose the composer and the lyricist. They can decide who will arrange the music, and oversee the overall process of the song's creation.

Where to apply: If you think you have the skills needed to be successful in the industry, send your demos to record companies or music publishing companies.

A day at work

Chak started his songwriting career at the end of 2006. He sent a demo to a music publishing company, and then took part in a songwriting contest.

He has been composing on a project basis ever since.

He has worked with some famous Canto-pop stars. His works include Under Mount Fuji for Eason Chan Yik-shun, In Search of the Deities for Joey Yung Cho-yee and Wu Yen for Kay Tse On-kei.

Chak says songwriters' working hours can be flexible, and they can arrange their own timetables. Usually writers compose whenever inspiration comes, or when singers commission them to write particular songs.



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