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  The Four Songwriter Archetypes

The Faceless Super Writer

Examples: Diane Warren, Billie Mann, Max Martin, Hillary Lindsay


  • They write for other artists and very rarely ever release their own albums
  • They write ALL THE TIME
  • They write a variety of songs and write in a lot of co-writes
  • They often get into writers deals with publishers
  • They own a lot of equity in their publishing
  • They are pillars in their industry

The Classic Singer/Songwriter

Examples: Leonard Cohen, Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, Joni Mitchell


  • They focus on writing songs that will outlive them
  • They are a performing artist, but their product is the song itself, not necessarily a show….
  • They are great at crafting stories around their songs
  • Their songs fit within a genre, but they are easily re-produced by other artists
  • They tend to build long term relationships with the people they cowrite with, and therefore don’t cowrite with as many people.
  • They release their own albums and tour like a popular recording artist
  • Musical styles tend to be stripped down and easily sung in a coffee shop - focus is on the song.

The Recording Artist Songwriter

Examples: Sting, Alicia Keys, Coldplay, Justin Bieber


  • Singer/Songwriter 2.0 (not better than, but more performance oriented)
  • It’s harder to distinguish between the artist and the song
  • They place top value on putting on a great show and performance
  • They recognize that great songs are key to the longevity of their careers, but…
  • They aren’t afraid of going outside of the box which makes them very uniquely attached to the songs they write
  • Their voice and “sound” plays a critical role in the delivery of the song
  • They not only do their original songs, but other ones as well

The Composer Songwriter

Examples: Gotye, Owl City, Seth Mosley, Andrew Loyd Webber


  • Probably the most creative artists of the list
  • These songwriters shine in the studio as producer/writer/composers
  • They tend to be really good musicians on more than one instrument
  • They may or may not release their own albums
  • They write a variety of songs specifically for licensing to film, tv, theater, or other custom public performances