Songwriters are the lifeblood of the music industry. Without anyone to write the songs, there would be no music to play, enjoy, and share.
Yet historically songwriters have toiled largely outside the mainstream public eye. While performers like Adele are household names, the songwriters who help pen their biggest hits like Greg Kurstin are not. (Kurstin co-wrote a little song called “Hello.”)
So today, Royalty Exchange is pleased to introduce the inaugural installment of a new chart designed to recognize songwriters, called Hot Hitmakers. The Hot Hitmakers chart ranks the top 20 songwriters responsible for the top hits of each month. We do so by analyzing the Billboard Hot 100 every month, and surfacing the songwriter data behind each track.
In some instances, the recording artist is also the sole songwriter. In other cases, the recording artist shares credit with one or more songwriters. But it’s also very common for the recording artist to have no writing credit on the track at all.
This first edition, for instance, includes over a dozen songwriters who are not the recording artist behind the track. They’re either the sole songwriter, or share credit with others. Of the entire list, seven recording artists are listed as the sole songwriter as well, and another four share credit with at least one other.
Why are we doing this? Well for starters, because we think songwriters deserve more recognition than just a line on a track credit. The vast majority of auctions conducted on Royalty Exchange this year have been with songwriters... from writers of such modern hits as Kanye West’s “Mercy,” to timeless classics like Barry White’s "You’re The First, The Last, My Everything.”
We’ve heard first hand their stories their struggles, and are proud to have helped songwriters raise over $3 million in funding this year alone.
We also feel that elevating the contributions of songwriters might provide some much-needed leverage. A songwriter’s living is very much affected by the decisions made by others. They are the most heavily regulated component of the music industry. According to the National Music Publishers Association, 75% of songwriters’ income is controlled in some fashion by the federal government--Copyright Royalty Board rate setting, compulsory licensing rulemaking, consent decree interpretations, and more.
Songwriters are represented by powerful organizations like the NSAI and the NMPA, who diligently and effectively advocate for their members. But until more everyday fans better understand the role songwriting plays in the music they love, it’s an uphill battle.
This is a big issue, and the introduction of this songwriter chart alone is not enough to reverse decades of songwriter obscurity. But it’s a start, and it’s one we are proud to take to highlight the contributions songwriters make to popular culture, art, and the enjoyment of music.