How Much Do Rap Ghostwriters Make? (With Real Numbers)

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If you’re interested in ghostwriting, one of the first things you want to know is how much money you can make.

How much do rap ghostwriters make?

Ghostwriters for well-known rappers can make $5,000 to $50,000 or more per rap they write. They can also make between $75 to $150 per song in royalties. On platforms like Upwork or Fiverr, rap ghostwriters can make up to $300. Ghostwriters can make up to $1,000 per rap on Songbay.

This is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about ghostwriting rates.

We’ve done some research and put together a list of real examples of what rap ghostwriters make on Fiverr, Upwork, and other higher-paying freelance platforms.

Whether you’re an aspiring writer looking for tips on how to become a successful music artist or just someone who loves hip-hop culture, this article will give you insight into the world of professional ghostwriting.

How Much Do Rap Ghostwriters Get Paid?

Two rappers posing for a picture—how much do ghostwriters make?
Image by author via Canva—How Much Do Ghostwriters Make?

In the case of a big-name celebrity, ghostwriters may charge between $5,000 and $50,000 (Read Which Rappers Use Ghostwriters).

For other clients who aren’t big names, the fee paid to a ghostwriter for composing a song is dependent on the contract negotiated.

Ghostwriters are usually compensated between $5,000 and $20,000 upfront for their services, with occasional bigger label jobs reaching even higher.

That might seem like an impressive amount, but it hardly compares to the six figures and up some ghostwriters make.

In some cases, the ghostwriter will be paid a set price determined by the agreement.

Something to note: the money earned is divided pro-rata if there are multiple ghostwriters on one song.

For example, if two ghostwriters collaborate to write a song for Drake, each might get $25,000 (or more) per song in royalties.

How Much Do Rap Ghostwriters Make Per Rap?

If you’re looking for how much do ghostwriters make per rap, here is a table of helpful information.

This is how much rap ghostwriters make per rap:

PlatformRevenue
FreelanceUp to $50,000+
FiverrUp to $200
UpworkUp to $300
SongbayUp to $1,000+
How much do rap ghostwriters make?

The higher amounts are usually one-time payments for a full transfer of copyright.

Do Music Ghostwriters Get Royalties?

Yes, music ghostwriters get royalties.

Rapper royalty rates can be anywhere from $0.00001 to $400 (or more) per track. But the average range is between $75 to $150 per song or rap verse. 

The price may also depend on the rapper’s status, popularity, how many songs they record, and the type of royalties.

There are six types of royalties for ghostwriters:

  1. Mechancial—Payment anytime the rap is reproduced in any form, such as a CD or vinyl record.
  2. Syncronization—When the rap is used in any other type of content, such as video ads or YouTube videos, the ghostwriter gets paid.
  3. Public perfmorance—Compensation when the rap is performed in a commercial situation, such as a tour.
  4. Grand rights—Payments when your music is performed on stage, such as a play.
  5. Print—You get paid when your lyrics are printed in a book.

Whether they work for a famous rapper or not, a ghostwriter will generally earn the current standard royalty rate in the industry.

In the United States, for example, the mechanical rate is currently set at 9.1¢ per song or 1.75¢ for each minute of playing time, whichever is greater.

Normally, the payments are split among all of the co-writers, including ghostwriters.

How Long Do Rap Ghostwriters Get Royalites?

Rap ghostwriters get royalties for their entire life plus another 70 years. This means a ghostwriter can receive royalties for over 100 years, with payments going to an appointed legacy successor.

A few hit songs can set up a ghostwriter for life. It doesn’t have to be a popular rap hit, either.

A good example is Gary Portnoy, who wrote the theme song to the smash TV series, Cheers. You know the one: “Where Everyone Knows Your Name.” Writing that one song for a popular show allowed him to never have to work again.

Every time the show aired, Gary made money.

Another example is Don McClean, who wrote the song “American Pie.” He wrote the song more than 40 years ago but still makes six figures every year.

If you write a rap that gets played over and over again for years, like a rap version of “Happy Birthday,” you may end up making upwards of $70 million (and growing year by year), just like the sister teachers who penned that insanely popular original tune.

How Much Can a Ghostwriter Make From One Hit Song?

As a ghostwriter, the big money is in popular songs.

From a single hit song, a ghostwriter can make millions (initial payment plus royalties):

SongRevenue (so far)
Unchained Melody$55 million
Santa Claus is Coming to Town$45 million
Christmas Song$25 million
Every Breath You Take$35 million
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin$65 million
Stand By Me$50 million
White Christmas$66 million
Yesterday$60 million
How much do rap ghostwriters make?

If your rap is used in a national commercial, you can make $300,00. If it’s used in a syndicated TV show, you can earn up to $50,000.

As we’ve seen, that’s just the tip of the money iceberg.

When you factor in royalties, we’re talking millions per year for decades into the future.

How Much Do Rap Ghostwriters Make on Fiverr?

A ghostwriter can make up to $200 on Fiverr.

The rates for ghostwriters on Fiverr range from $5 – $200 (or more), depending on how much work the client requests.

For instance, the average task might be one hour of work for $10 to $20. However, ghostwriters are typically paid based on their experience and extras that they offer.

Extras you can offer:

  • Faster delivery (3 days intstead of a week)
  • Longer lyrics
  • Hook
  • Beats
  • Printed and audio version
  • Album graphics
  • Commercial liscence

On Fiverr, the rate is also determined by how many sellers are offering similar services.

An example of this: if 10 ghostwriters offer to write lyrics for between $10 and $15, then the going rate for ghostwriting may get driven down to $5 – $12.00.

However, you can also charge as much as want on Fiver.

If you do a good job and accrue positive reviews, you can earn even more money through repeat clients.

Payment is made directly into your Fiverr account.

How Much Do Rap Ghostwriters Make on Upwork?

On Upwork, ghostwriters are paid up to $300 (or more).

You usually won’t make royalties since you will be transferring the copyright to the buyer.

Depending on how much work a client requires, a song can take anywhere from one hour to several weeks. For example, a 10-minute song can take about 5 hours to complete depending on the amount of writing and production required.

When deciding on your price, keep your expenses in mind.

Expenses include instrument rental fees, studio time, vocalists, editing, etc. Upwork also takes a 10% cut of your profits.

Just like on Fiverr, you can make additional money from developing ongoing partnerships with artists and producers.

How Much Do Rap Ghostwriters Make on Songbay?

Songbay is a marketplace for lyrics and music.

On Songbay, ghostwriters of rap music can earn up to $1,000 (or more) per rap for selling full copyright.

There are at least five good ways for a ghostwriter to make money on Songbay:

MethodRevenue
Single download (personal use)$0.99-$1.99
Cover version license$0.9 cents per copy
Standard License$75-$250
Extended License$250-$500
Copyright Exchange$200-$6000
How much do ghostwriters make?

7 Ways To Make More Money as a Rap Ghostwriter

If you’re serious about becoming a ghostwriter for rappers, then it makes sense to earn as much money as possible.

There are seven good ways to make even more money:

  1. Offer multiple ways for your lyrics to make money (single downloads, liscences, royalties)
  2. Write more songs (the more songs, the more money you can make)
  3. Build a resume and portfolio (the more who artists trust you, the more you can charge)
  4. Consider creative options like TV theme songs and commercials
  5. Always build royalties into your contracts
  6. Write the entire rap song yourself (with no collaborators)
  7. Work for bigger name rappers

To accomplish that last step, let’s talk about how to become a rap ghostwriter.

How To Become a Ghostwriter for Rappers

You become a ghostwriter for rappers by creating good demos, building your portfolio, networking with other ghostwriters, and consistently delivering great lyrics.

A prime example is 21-year-old Nija Charles, a ghostwriter who went from writing lyrics in her college dorm room to writing hit rap songs for Beyonce and Cardi B.

If she can do it, so can you.

Here’s a good video about how to start ghostwriting for big-name rappers:

YouTube video by SmartRapper

Final Thoughts

Ghostwriting rap lyrics can be insanely profitable, especially if you know how to maximize your talents and earnings.

One final bit of advice: always hire a lawyer who specializes in music copyright law to read over your contracts. If you can’t afford this at first, most online platforms will protect you and your work.

But once you go freelance, it’s totally worth the investment.

What to read next:

Sources

BLS.gov
Forbes.com