Here’s a selective guide to publications, organizations, websites, camps, contests, and other resources for songwriters—compiled as a companion to the book The Complete Singer-Songwriter and continuously updated. Feel free to submit corrections and suggestions.
Craft and Creativity
Pat Pattison, Writing Better Lyrics, Writer’s Digest Books. Authoritative handbook on the lyrical craft.
Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, Songwriting Basics for Guitarists, Stringletter. Multimedia guide with tab and video (includes guitar-specific presentations of some of the material in The Complete Singer-Songwriter).
Rikky Rooksby, How to Write Songs on Guitar, Backbeat Books. Detailed theory-based instruction on melody, harmony, rhythm, and chord progressions.
Jimmy Webb, Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting, Hyperion. A deep dive into one songwriter’s process.
Peter Blood and Annie Patterson, eds., Rise Up Singing: The Group Singing Sourcebook, Hal Leonard. Lyrics and chords to 1,200 songs, from folk ballads to ’70s rock. The sequel, Rise Again Songbook (published in 2015), adds nearly 1,200 more songs, including some more recent pop.
Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, Rock Troubadours, Stringletter. Interviews with James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Dave Matthews, and more.
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life, Harper Perennial. An intense and poetic exploration of the creative process.
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anchor. A funny, smart, and encouraging book by a novelist and nonfiction writer.
William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style, Allyn and Bacon. The classic guide to clear and concise writing.
B-Rhymes. Website and apps for finding near rhymes.
Chorderator. One of many online tools (and apps) for naming chords based on a guitar fingering, or finding a fingering based on a chord name, in standard tuning or any alternate tuning.
Lyricist, Virtual Studio Systems. Software for creating lyric sheets and chord charts.
MasterWriter. A writer’s tool especially for brainstorming lyrics, using an extensive database of rhymes, phrases, alliterations, and pop culture references.
Rhyme Genie. Rhyming dictionary software.
RhymeZone. Free online rhyming dictionary.
Booking and Venues
Concerts in Your Home. Booking network and other resources for house-concert performers and hosts.
Educate and Entertain. Highly informative blog by musician Dave Ruch on making a living as a regional performer and teaching artist.
Folk venue listserv. Discussion list for presenters.
GigSalad. Booking site for event planners.
Home Routes. Canadian house-concert network.
How to Host a House Concert. Concise online guide by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers.
Musician’s Atlas. Resources for booking.
National Association for Campus Activities. Connects educational institutions with entertainers.
Sonicbids. Online booking service.
Concert Calendar Apps
The following are some options for posting and promoting concert dates online.
GigPress (WordPress plugin)
Stage Craft and Gear
Steve Rapson, The Art of the Solo Performer, American Success Institute.
Livingston Taylor, Stage Performance, Mentor. Based on Taylor’s long-running performance class at Berklee College of Music.
Frets.com. Exhaustive, illustrated online guide to acoustic guitar care and repair.
Simone Solondz, ed., Acoustic Guitar Owner’s Manual, String Letter. Player’s guide to guitar maintenance, with sections on traveling with and insuring your instrument.
Travel Tips. For musicians flying with instruments, from Folk Alliance International.
Jeff Strong, Home Recording for Musicians for Dummies, Wiley.
Oasis Disc Manufacturing offers free guides for recording and album budgeting.
Stephen Fishman, The Public Domain: How to Find and Use Copyright-Free Art, Music, Writings, and More, Nolo.
The Indie Bible. Directory of radio stations, publications, sites for promoting music.
The Music Biz Academy. Includes articles on promotion, copyright, and other business topics.
PD Info. Reference site for identifying music in the public domain.
Standing ‘O’ Project. Subscription-based streaming service focused on singer-songwriters, offering a 50 percent split of revenues with artist members.
Taxi. Independent A&R company for unsigned artists and songwriters.
U.S. Copyright Office. Includes FAQ, copyright search, and eCO online registration.
Online Studio Services
Session Players. For booking Web-based sessions with studio pros.
StudioTraxx.com. Web portal for hiring studio musicians and collaborating online.
Indaba Music. Online platform for finding musicians and working together on songs and tracks.
Justin Gomer and Jackson Hille, The Freelancer’s Essential Guide to Business and Taxes. Free online advice. Also from the same authors: A Tax Guide for Independent Contractors and the Companies Who Hire Them.
Donald S. Passman, All You Need to Know About the Music Business, Simon and Schuster. An authoritative, accessible, and highly readable guide.
Peter Spellman, The Self-Promoting Musician: Strategies for Independent Music Success, Berklee Press.
Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help, Grand Central. Reflections and advice for artists in the Internet age.
Indiegogo. Fundraising for individuals, groups, and nonprofits.
Kickstarter. Funding platform for creative projects.
Patreon. Fan funding for artists (video creators, visual artists, and others as well as musicians), supporting the ongoing creation of smaller works.
PledgeMusic. Fan funding specifically for musicians.
Randall D. Wixen, The Plain and Simple Guide to Music Publishing, Hal Leonard. Clear, concise, and useful discussion of a vital topic for songwriters.
Folk Alliance International. Organizes an annual trade show for musicians, presenters, deejays, and others in the folk trade, as do its regional subgroups: NERFA (Northeast), SERFA (Southeast), FARM (Midwest), SWRFA (Southwest), and FAR-West (West).
Future of Music Coalition. Advocacy organization focusing on technology and public policy.
Nashville Songwriters Association International. Trade association for songwriters.
SoundExchange. Collects royalties for noninteractive webcasts, satellite radio, and music stations delivered by cable TV.
Camps & Contests
Berklee Summer Songwriting Workshop (Boston)
Cape Cod Songwriters Retreat (Massachusetts)
New England Songwriters Retreat (hosted by Ellis Paul)
Steve Earle’s Camp Copperhead (New York)
SummerSongs (New York)
Interlochen Center for the Arts (Michigan)
Lamb’s Retreat for Songwriters (Michigan)
Kerrville Song School (Kerrville Folk Festival, Texas)
NSAI Song Camp (Nashville)
Performing Songwriter Creative Workshops (Nashville)
Swannanoa Gathering, Contemporary Folk Week (North Carolina)
Americana Song Academy (Sisters Folk Festival, Oregon)
Camp Ned (Colorado)
Moab Folk Camp (Utah)
Rocky Mountain Song School (Colorado)
Yosemite Songwriting Retreat (California)
Listening Room Retreats (collaborative writing retreats, various locations in North America and Europe)
Chris Austin Songwriting Contest (MerleFest, North Carolina)
Grassy Hill Song Competition (CT Folk, Connecticut)
Kerrville New Folk (Texas)
Telluride Troubadour Contest (Colorado)