Lyricist article illustration


A lyricist is a professional who writes the lyrics of songs, conveying the narrative, emotions, and messages within the musical composition. They work closely with composers, musicians, and performers to develop lyrics that complement the overall theme and mood of a song. Lyricists are responsible for crafting words that give meaning and have the power to inspire, comfort, challenge, and provoke thought and emotions in listeners. They often draw inspiration from personal experiences, cultural influences, or the intended purpose of the music, aiming to connect with the audience on an emotional level.

Excludes composer.

Here are some typical duties of lyricists:

  • Work closely with composers, musicians, and music producers to create lyrics that align with the musical composition’s mood, rhythm, and melody.
  • Develop thematic concepts and narrative ideas for songs, ensuring that the lyrics contribute to the overall message and emotional impact of the music.
  • Write lyrics that seamlessly integrate with the melody, rhythm, and structure of the musical arrangement, enhancing the song’s cohesiveness.
  • Convey emotions and evoke specific feelings through the choice of words, metaphors, and imagery in the lyrics.
  • Craft lyrics that tell a story or convey a message, creating a narrative arc within the constraints of song structure.
  • Adapt writing style to suit different musical genres, including pop, rock, country, hip-hop, and more, understanding the conventions and audience expectations of each genre.
  • Pay attention to rhyme schemes, rhythm, and meter to ensure lyrical flow and musicality, enhancing the song’s aesthetic appeal.
  • Review and revise lyrics based on feedback from musicians, producers, or performers, refining the language for clarity, impact, and alignment with the intended audience.
  • Strive for originality in lyric composition, avoiding clichés and overused phrases, while maintaining a balance between accessibility and creativity.
  • Sessions: Participate in studio recording sessions, collaborating with vocalists and musicians to ensure the effective delivery of the lyrics.
  • Take into account the practical aspects of live performances, considering the ease of memorization and audience engagement during concerts.
  • Understand and navigate the legal aspects of songwriting, including copyright, licensing, and royalty agreements.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to lyricist:

lyric writer
copywriter & lyricist
lyric songwriter

Working conditions

Lyricists often work in collaboration with musicians, producers, and recording artists. They may participate in studio sessions, attend rehearsals, and engage in remote collaboration, adapting to the dynamic nature of the music industry.

Minimum qualifications

There are no specific educational requirements for becoming a lyricist, but many successful professionals have backgrounds in creative writing, literature, or music. Practical experience gained through writing and collaborating on musical projects, building a portfolio, and establishing connections within the music industry is crucial. Continuous engagement with the music scene, staying updated on industry trends, and cultivating a deep understanding of various music genres contribute to a lyricist’s success. Strong creativity, storytelling skills, and a passion for music are essential for thriving in this role.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Lyricist is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Lyricist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to lyricist.

music director
music arranger
disc jockey

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of lyricist.

  • Musical genres: Different musical styles and genres such as blues, jazz, reggae, rock, or indie.
  • Musical notation: The systems used to visually represent music through the use of written symbols, including ancient or modern musical symbols.
  • Music literature: Literature about music theory, specific music styles, periods, composers or musicians, or specific pieces. This includes a variety of materials such as magazines, journals, books and academic literature.
  • Musical theory: The body of interrelated concepts that constitute the theoretical background of music.
  • Copyright legislation: Legislation describing the protection of the rights of original authors over their work, and how others can use it.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of lyricist.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of lyricist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of lyricist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Create musical forms: Create original musical forms, or write within existing musical formats like operas or symphonies.
  • Adapt to artists’ creative demands: Work with artists, striving to understand the creative vision and adapting to it. Make full use of your talents and skills to reach the best possible result.
  • Consult with sound editor: Consult on the sounds required with the sound editor.
  • Advise on music pedagogy: Assist musicians, transfer knowledge and share experience concerning musical practices. Help musicians in the development of their career or providing support during rehearsals for shows or for recordings.
  • Transcribe musical compositions: Transcribe musical compositions in order to adapt them to a particular group, or to create a particular musical style.
  • Write musical scores: Write musical scores for orchestras, ensembles or individual instrumentalists using knowledge of music theory and history. Apply instrumental and vocal capabilities.
  • Transcribe ideas into musical notation: Transcribe/translate musical ideas into musical notation, using instruments, pen and paper, or computers.
  • Compose music: Compose original pieces music such as songs, symphonies or sonatas.
  • Work with composers: Communicate with composers to discuss various interpretations of their work.
  • Attend music recording sessions: Attend recording sessions in order to make changes or adaptations to the musical score.
  • Record music: Record a sound or musical performance in a studio or live environment. Use the appropriate equipment and your professional judgment to capture the sounds with optimal fidelity.
  • Sing: Use the voice to produce musical sounds, marked by tone and rhythm.

ISCO group and title

2641 – Authors and related writers

  1. Lyricist – ESCO
  2. How to Become a Lyricist – CareersinMusic
  3. How to Become a Lyricist –
  4. What does a lyricist do? – CareerExplorer
  5. Featured image: Photo by CDMA on Unsplash
Last updated on January 30, 2024