An interview: How to become a songwriter!

in life •  last year

This year my collaboration with Utada Hikaru was included on her #1 album Fantôme it sold 1 million copies in Japan, won the Japan Music Awards record of the year, and hit #1 on the US Billboard World Albums chart. Earlier this week I was asked to do an interview so I've included part of it here to give you an insight into being a songwriter.


What schooling or training do you need to go into music production?

I studied music/maths/physics for 4 years at University and took piano lessons until Grade 8. You don’t need to have a degree or even be able to play an instrument. There are plenty of people watching Youtube and putting it into practice but these are an exception to the rule.

What steps did you take to be where you are now?

I wrote lots of songs, worked with lots of artists, spent ages chasing “success” or “hits” then realised that I wasn’t interested in it. I then started focusing on my own music, and asking myself “what do you want to write today”. One of the most important things was self belief.


What technological skills are useful for being in the music industry?

An understanding of chords, scales and musical theory is essential. Technology is changing all the time - so a willingness to adapt with it.

What is your daily routine? How many hours do you work a day? Do you work on weekends?

I work on my own in my own studio. A lot of the time if I’m not working with another artist I’ll be searching for a spark of an idea that can lead to something new. If I’m working with artists we start around 11 am and work till perhaps 8 PM. I don’t think I’ve left my studio before midnight many times in the last 5 years. Minimum 10 hours per day (this may vary with other people). I sometimes work on a Saturday, but more often than not, no.


What goals should you set yourself to enter into this field?

To be the best at what you do and to do discover what makes you different from everyone else. It really is an incredibly difficult and crowded business to work in - you need to be prepared to pick yourself up after each rejection. The benefits of course are that it doesn’t feel like a job at all, it’s incredibly fun, and can be incredibly rewarding.

How much vacation time do you have? Are there opportunities for travel?

I don’t have a boss so I can take as much vacation as I want - but I wouldn’t be getting paid. Being self employed means you don’t have paid holidays, insurance, healthcare, pension etc. but you do get to have an amazing job that involves making music every day! Last year I travelled to Sydney in Australia to work with Australian artists and songwriters after my track with Troye Sivan was released on his record TRXYE.


Do you get royalties from your music?

Yes - this is the main way that writers and producers earn money. You get paid for every radio play, every stream, and every single that is sold. The royalties are less than they used to be, but if you are willing to work hard it is of course possible to become a full time writer and producer.

Are there opportunities for in-house producer or are you strictly freelance?

I’m freelance, but there are plenty of opportunities to become an in house producer. There are studios all over the world looking for people to help out. Typically the first job will be as a runner - you’ll be unpaid and you’ll be making teas and coffees. The more willing you are to help out and learn the more opportunities that will come your way.



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great post my friend you really went in deep there! fantastic getting to know you better

I wonder if there was beer tasting in Sydney! Great work, celebrated in my latest post! Cheers!

Looking to learn the business. We are a team with runner experience and we keep the vermin away.

But but I wanted to know how to NOT be a lone wolf haha. Nice post anyway

Wow! A successful freelance writer and producer...and a handsome fellow?

This is just too much!


If I ever find myself in that Dickensian hell of a city, I want to come by your studio and write a song with you. I'm certain that it'll be a #1 single and probably go at least triple the first week.


You should be thankful that all the rappers have not arrived yet. You would have unleashed the gates of "cash money baby".


Ed Sheeran eat your heart out.


I appreciate your wisdom!!! This applies to regular old word writers too -- I wish they would head your lessons.

Looking forward to seeing your continued triumphs. Happy Tuesday.


My pleasure. This platform is brilliant that it allows us to learn and grow, while allowing for that thing no one truely likes to do -- cough, cough marketing.

Bravo! This is kind of a neat thing to have. Sometimes as artists we forget how hard we have worked to get where we are, and answering questions like this is a good reminder.

Congratulations @thisisbenbrick!
Your post was mentioned in my hit parade in the following category:

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Great post dude! :) Congratulations was due! Hope you have a fantastic year ahead! :)

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wow and i wish you the very best


Very Inspiring article. Sounds like you are having lots of fun making music.

#jamisonic you should like this article.

upvote and rs for you...

But where do you get your inspiration from man?


Life experience is your best song.

Your life is your fingerprint.

good !!!
very interesting ~~~

Very good... I like it :)

Awesome! Great insight into your craft @thisisbenbrick! Super interesting to see broken down so clearly - and I'm sure very helpful for the musicians among us.

A very interesting inside glimpse into the life of a songwriter! It would be so much fun to play around with all that sound equipment. I used to DJ in the 80's and I had a little 4 track recorder, even that was fun.

There are lots of famous musicians who don't know much musical theory.

Is she no longer huge in Japan?

Some good insight into your life and what it means to make a living in music. I was married to a producer/engineer for 12 years and was amazed at how successful he is in terms of the huge name bands he works with and yet what a precarious and not necessarily prosperous economics. The music and art worlds are very similar in this way. Yes different language and sorts of venues/streams of income, but the economics are the same because society needs our work and relies on it heavily but without the awareness of it. Western culture doesn't really understand how to value creativity enough to pay for it fully. I agree though that the rewards of creativity and being one's own boss are amazing and for me have always outweighed everything else! Cheers to doing great work


Music is an "Insiders Game" where they require that you actually "Sell Your Soul" for the riches you deserve. Or, they just steal your music and with all the Government at their beck & call, good luck winning that case in court, if it even get that far.


My bad. that is actually "insiders knowledge" & experience. look it up for yourself if you wish. type in "blood Sacrifices & music business" you'll see, if you wish to see.

"What schooling or training do you need to go into music production?"

Answer: Absolutely None.

Life experience is your best teacher. Others are frauds beyond anyones imagination.
I would advise to stay as far away from these people as possible.

Why? Bc, you can't "Teach" talent.

Thanks for the post.
I am a follower now ^^

Nice article, looking forward to seeing your work posted here.

Work hard, get ready to put 10-20 years at least into your craft, always be open to learning, and have fun! Major things I have learned so far on my journey. Also learn to enjoy talking to others and build relationships with people who create or are a fan of art similar to yours!

Have fun with you. @thisisbenbrick

Very interesting! I love your focus on belief in yourself as the key to success and asking yourself what YOU feel like writing! Authentic :)

Hello from San Francisco! Thanks for the quality post. I've always wanted to be a songwriter myself--but have no idea how to get started. Wishing I could do what you're doing!


Just write your stuff & copyright it. Then find an "Unsigned Artist" that would like to sing it. Simple as that.

These guys aren't talented at anything but lies & deceit.