How Many Songs Should You Write?

Posted in The Weekly on August 1, 2023 by

At the publishing company to which I was signed, many of the writers in their Nashville office scheduled co-writing sessions with two different collaborators each weekday: one at 10 a.m. and the other at 2 p.m., with a lunch break in between. They did not always finish the songs they started each day, in some instances, scheduling an additional session to revisit or complete the songs. But sometimes they did indeed finish two songs a day.

These writers spent some days pitching or promoting their songs, while other days were devoted to demo recording sessions. Still, in the span of a year, they delivered demo recordings of 100 – 150 songs. Of course, most of these did not become hits. But some of them did.

The writers with whom I wrote outside of Nashville (i.e., in Los Angeles and New York) tended to spend more time creating musical backing tracks with synthesizers as part of their writing process, as opposed to the Nashville demo style of using live musicians to produce multiple demo tracks in a few hours. Therefore, in many cases, the musicians I worked with outside of Nashville delivered fewer songs than those in Music City. Still, many of them were delivering 75 – 100 songs per year.

A bit of math reveals that one only needs to write two songs per week to reach the 100 songs a year threshold. In most instances, writers signed to exclusive (staff-writing) publishing deals are advanced enough money to quit their day jobs and devote most of their time and energy to the business of writing songs.

Writing two or three songs a week does not seem unreasonable if that is a writer’s primary focus.

Comparing myself to my co-writers left me feeling inadequate. I was writing and recording an average of “only” fifty songs per year.

For me, the first step in writing a song is typically finding a fresh lyric concept on which to build. This is the spark that compels me to write. Some of my most important contributions to my successful songs were these angles—unique approaches to topics that had been written about countless times.

In the Backstreet Boys’ “Back to Your Heart” (written by Jason Blume, Gary Baker, and Kevin Richardson) instead of saying, “I miss you. Tell me how to win you back…” the singer pleads with his ex to tell him the road to take and the words to say to find a way back to your heart.

Instead of telling listeners that there is a boy she likes, each verse of “Dear Diary” (written by Jason Blume, Eugene Wilde, and Britney Spears) sounds like it could be an actual entry in the singer’s diary. “Dear Diary, today I met a boy …”

When I was tasked with writing for the song that would play over the end credits of the animated film, “Barbie of Swan Lake” (written by Jason Blume; recorded by Leslie Mills) the competition was stiff. I knew my song would not rise above the other submissions if I hit the nail too squarely on the head. Needing to express the idea that as long as I believe in myself, I can achieve anything, my lyric stated that if I wasn’t born to fly, I wouldn’t have wings, and I wouldn’t reach up to the sky in my dreams.

I rarely begin a song unless I feel I have a “WOW” concept. That is not something I can typically generate twice a day. But not everyone has the same writing process that I do—nor should they.


A quota refers to the minimum delivery requirements specified in an exclusive song publishing agreement. In many cases, the minimum is not defined as the number of songs written, but the number that are recorded and released. This clause will likely specify what constitutes a release (i.e., whether it is sufficient for an independent artist to release the song, or if the release needs to be on a major label, or a label distributed by a major.) This scenario would be typical for deals that provide the writer with large monetary advances, and for writers who are also recording artists or producers.

In Nashville, you might simply have a requirement to deliver a specified number of songs, regardless of whether those songs have been commercially released. In this scenario, a writer fulfills his or her commitment by turning in whatever number has been contractually agreed upon. My contract required fifteen songs. The number of songs is typically defined by those for which the writer is the sole writer. A writer with one 50/50 collaborator would need to deliver thirty songs to fulfill a fifteen-song quota. If all songs were the result of three-way collaborations, forty-five songs would need to be delivered to satisfy a fifteen-song requirement.

The number of songs and delivery requirement is a critical deal point to be negotiated by a skilled music business attorney.

Quality Versus Quantity

We do not get paid per song, except in the rarest of instances. Songwriters’ and publishers’ incomes are derived from songs that generate performance and mechanical royalties, and licensing fees.

The “spaghetti against the wall” approach, writing tremendous numbers of songs and hoping some of them find homes, is preferred by some writers. For many of these writers much of their reward comes from the satisfaction derived from the process of writing; placing their songs is a bonus. Other writers craft songs slowly and methodically, placing every word and note under microscope, and rewriting multiple times.

Some composers create instrumental cues intended solely for synchronization licensing. They might write and produce ten or more musical pieces a day and have catalogs consisting of thousands of compositions. Of course, these pieces can be produced faster than those that require lyrics and vocals.

Few publishers would be disappointed with a writer who delivers only a handful of songs per year if those songs top the chart or are recorded by superstar artists. One GRAMMY-deserving song is likely to bring more success than 1,000 “good” songs.

So … how many songs should you write? The answer is whatever number supports your writing style—and achieves your songwriting goals.

Jason Blume is the author of 6 Steps to Songwriting Success, This Business of Songwriting, and Inside Songwriting (Billboard Books). His latest book, Happy Tails—Life Lessons from Rescued Cats and Kittens (SPS/Blue Mountain Arts) combines his love of photography and cats. Jason’s songs are on Grammy-nominated albums and have sold more than 50,000,000 copies. A guest lecturer at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (co-founded by Sir Paul McCartney) and at the Berklee School of Music, he has been interviewed as a songwriting expert for CNN, NPR, the BBC, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times. To receive a free video, “3 Things You MUST Do for Success” and weekly tips to enhance creativity click on For information about workshops, webinars, and more than 125 additional articles, visit

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