Do songwriters write music or lyrics? (7 points explained)

Today I’ll be answering if songwriters write music or lyrics.

Maybe you were looking for the answer to this question after searching something random like the i ll be there for you lyrics.

Whatever the case is, we hope this post helps.

Do songwriters write music or lyrics?

Lyrics first seems to work best with a lot of other musicians, but songwriters are able to both write music and lyrics. On top of that, there’s a couple questions you should ask to understand yourself as a songwriter better. Which of the two do you prefer to do, and why it should matter that there’s a difference.


There are plenty of musicians that do both, but some are known for certain expertises than others.

You might’ve heard of publications that give out the title of being great songwriters or even lyricists.

All of them are opinionated, and bring up great discussion points for people to make their case for why someone should make a list.

They all come from different genres of music and dominated at different points of time, but this will be a few picks on my list.

For songwriters, these are a few that have hits that should speak for themselves (but I’m doing my part in acknowledgment).

  • Paul McCartney
  • Chuck Berry

The lyricists that I’ll add for the moment are as followed.

  • TuPac
  • Andre 3000

My Thoughts

I’ve said before that I make music in my about me page, so keep that in mind (I’m the student simply teaching what I’m learning).

I think songwriters are part of every step of the song making process.

Either way you have to own a good ear for sounds and you fit the need to add lyrics to your records.

I’m a fan for the process of finding a phrase that you think is hook worthy.

Find something that you think will effectively capture the focus of this song.

If you’re able to find that message which can connect with your supporters, you’ll be in a great spot as an artist.

I’ve mentioned before how music can be written without knowing music theory.

So I’m on the optimistic side.

There are plenty of artists that pushing a lyrics first approach, and I agree it has a good result.

Music First

BeyondMusicTheory has a section in their article that implies the melody first approach is done with a basic idea in mind.

It’s that the chords that make the song.

Looking at the music first approach, there’s a favor that many musicians may have for it.

It’s easy to understand that there’s a benefit by also playing a role in designing the title of the song.

I call it more of a “feel process” when you decide to follow the music first approach.

The only important thing is to let there be space for lyrics if that’s the type of song you’re making.

The good thing about the music first approach is that you can be vague in your composition process.

The reason you’re able to be vague is to set the tone of the song.

You’re able to choose if it’s more upbeat, slow, mellow or whatever you want.

This is where if you have the habit of playing your instrument or messing around with your voice on a warmup, you’ll make a song.

Music writers

A few artists that are well known for playing instruments on record is B.o.B. Lil Wayne 2 Chainz and artists alike.

Lyrics First

SecretsofSongwriting suggests that there’s plenty of different options when choosing a lyrics first approach in writing.

The lyrics first approach is a very rewarding aspect in being able to communicate a message over a beat.

There’s a useful book that trains you on how to write lyrics made for your voice.

Click here.

There’s a big tie between the artist and their lyrics.

There’s fans that care about if the artist they like wrote what they rehearsed.

For some it can make or break their perception of the artist.

I can care less because there’s still talent in delivery, but that’s another conversation.

Follow my post on k-pop artists and the controversy there was behind fans of the genre’s favorite groups had ghostwriters.

Either way it makes a difference in the way the song will sound if you’re focused on the lyrics instead of the sound.


Some of the most beloved artists in all of music has been known for being valuable lyricists.

Bob Dylan, Tupac, and even John Lennon are known for their powerful messages in their songs.


A composer is someone who purely writes music.

The composer makes sure that there’s space for lyrics.

The method comes from sustaining a rhythm for a certain amount of time that’ll allow for lyrics.

One of the most brilliant composers in this modern era could be considered Quincy Jones.

Lyrics to Poetry

Composing lyrics based off poetry is another way you can move into songwriting.

The term that’s used when you turn poetry to lyrics is called a lyric poem.

Poets and lyricists share many different things in common.

They’re able to paint pictures with their words.

“Lyrics are words to sing.”

That’s the brilliant phrase that flypaper coined which captures the thought you should have.

If you get to that mindset when you create, you’ll have a much more fun time writing than if you didn’t.

The process is fairly simple if you have any experience.

Find a reference song.

If you find a song that continues the pace you’re trying to do, it makes creating it easy.

Why does the difference matter?

It’s important to know the difference between the two because it determines value accordingly.

Music is difficult to define in a simple way, but we can agree that it’s meant to capture a moment.

You can say that the lyrics give the moment context.

The reason this matters is because it determines motivation for the artist.

Maybe you want to capture the way you felt after something was done for you.

Or maybe you want to send a message to a reader that likes to read in between the lines.

The hybrid

A hybrid method is a combination of the melody and lyric process.

I figure at this point you may be a little overwhelmed with the options you have as a songwriter (and that’s okay).

But the hybrid should be a little simple to get after hearing both ends of the process.

It’s exactly as you would expect (a combination of starting the melody and the message.

I have a theory, about this I’d like to share.

I believe that this method is responsible for our music that trends on short entertainment apps.

Tik Tok, youtube short, and apps alike counts on a song sounding pleasing to a user of their platform within 15-60 secs.

Which are you?

It’s as simple of a question like this one to understand your strengths in the music making process.

If you’re able to pick the side of the fence you tend to lean when making music, it helps you produce faster.

Same as I mentioned before, the way you go about creating influences your motivation (which is big to have as a creator).

Regardless of where you’re at, you can benefit greatly and make your job much easier knowing the answer to this question.

Most musicians tend to be perfectionists and focus on too much at once, but with focus you can get more done, and that goes for anything.

You might be the type that enjoys writing, but have trouble figuring out the melody.

Either way, you want to trust the method that feels right for you.

This is your roadmap to your very own process.

Final Thoughts

These should be important enough of points to think about when you’re trying to learn the songwriting process.

I shared my thoughts on the topic.

We seen the music first approach, the lyrics first approach , and hybrid.

And we also reflected on the importance of knowing the answer to two important questions.

  • Why does the difference matter?
  • Which are you?

What do you think?

Click here to go home.

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