The Four Songwriter Archetypes

Nate FancherSongwriting

I’d like to give you one more lesson from Songwriting Good To Great: The Business for FREE.

In it I cover what I call the 4 Songwriter Archetypes….

Here they are…

  • The Faceless Super Writer
  • The Classic Singer/Songwriter
  • The Recording Artist Songwriter
  • The Composer Songwriter

The way you approach songwriting falls into one of these four types (or a blend of two of them).

In this lesson I discuss the strength of each archetype with some real life examples of some popular writers in the real world…


Let’s look at each one in detail:

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

What About You?


As you look over the list you probably resonate with one or two more than the others. Understanding which type of songwriter you’re shooting to become is critical when you create your goals and your action plans to get there.

Watch the entire lesson here!

Amazing Content...FREE

Tim talks podcast

Join 2,400+ other independent musicians who are breaking out of the music industry mold. You'll get regular content delivered right to your inbox!

Powered by ConvertKit