Ghostwriting for rappers is one of the most lucrative and sought-after professions.
Here’s how to become a ghostwriter for rappers:
You become a ghostwriter for rappers by developing your writing and rapping skills, demonstrating your talent, showcasing a diverse portfolio, networking with new and veteran rappers, joining national songwriting organizations, getting a manager, and producing popular rap songs.
In this article, I will cover everything you need to know about how to become a ghostwriter for rappers.
20 Ways To Become a Ghostwriter for Rappers
Here are 20 good tips on how to become a rap ghostwriter.
Follow this advice to give yourself the best shot at living your writing (and rapping) dreams.
1) Get an Impressive Portfolio of Work
A great portfolio is going to help you stand out from the other ghostwriters.
Make sure you have a lot of diverse examples, and that they show off all of your strengths.
With ghostwriting portfolios, I think variety increases your odds.
Include the following in your portfolio:
- Several tracks that show off your freestyle rap skills
- Cloud rap
- Gangsta rap
- Trap lyrics
- Emo rap
The key is to showcase as many different rap types and genres as possible. You never know who might see and hear your portfolio.
You can create a nice and low-cost portfolio with Bluehost and WordPress.
2) Get the Necessary Software, Samples & Equipment
If you want to become a rap ghostwriter, then it’s going to help if you have the necessary software and equipment.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money, but you should at least have the basics.
Here is some ghostwriter gear I highly recommend:
- A good computer
- Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
- Microphone stand
- Pop Filter
- Headphones (studio grade)
- Audio Interface
- Stands (for music)
You can also purchase a bundle of music equipment or rent out space in a professional studio that comes equipped with all of these materials.
You don’t need to buy up everything at once.
Get what you can afford now and build over your career.
3) Write Your First Rap Song
Having training is one thing, but actually applying it to your craft is another.
Nothing beats lived experience.
Practice your craft until you master it—which will probably take many years and perhaps a lifetime.
You’ll usually need a few complete raps in your portfolio.
4) Pitch Your Services to Rappers With a Large Social Media Presence
It’s smart to start small, pitching to young rappers.
Rappers new to the industry (and coming up) will be more open to working with new ghostwriters.
Once you have references, then it’s time to go after an artist that you actually want to write for—someone you admire.
Send them some of your best work and see what happens. You might just get the opportunity of a lifetime.
A strategic move is to pitch your ghostwriting services to rappers with a large social media presence. This way, they can take a look at your work and see if you’re a good fit for their next project.
Here is a good video on how to become a ghostwriter for rappers you admire:
5) Offer a Free Draft to Producers and Rappers
This will ensure that you get to work with the best and learn from them.
The music industry can be competitive, but it’s also an amazing experience. Demonstrating your talent can help you stand out from the crowd of other writers eager to become ghostwriters.
Don’t work for free forever, however.
It’s easy for aspiring rap ghostwriters to fall prey to unscrupulous music executives who abuse generosity.
6) Keep Growing Your Career and Keep Looking for Work
Ghostwriting might not be the easiest job in the world, but it can lead to many incredible opportunities down the road.
Just keep building your portfolio and learning about the industry and you’ll be on your way.
Ultimately, your perseverance will make a difference.
Every popular and successful rap ghostwriter started from the bottom. Keep putting in the work and prepare yourself so that you can pounce on good opportunities.
7) Know Your Clients
This means being familiar with rappers and their styles.
It also can help to get familiar with the music trends in the industry. Keep up with the news about your favorite artists, emerging styles, and new technologies.
Often, you can find a gap to fill.
8) Start Building Your Network
This may start on social media, but you’ll want to develop professional relationships with rappers in real life, too.
One way to do this is to promote artists on your social media platforms.
In turn, they might be more likely to work with you.
Join local and national organizations, such as the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and the Song Writers Guild of America (SGA).
9) Market Yourself as a Ghostwriter by Creating a Profile on Websites Like Upwork and Fiverr
You have to be able to prove your skills, so make sure that your portfolio stands out and is eye-catching.
This is crucial on these competitive platforms.
Polish up your profile and be sure to be truthful to all the skills and talent that you offer. Let them know up front why you’re the best and why they should hire you over all the rest.
As you collect good reviews, you also get paid to build your portfolio.
10) Charge the Right Price for Your Services
Be cautious when it comes to setting up the prices for your services
You don’t want to undersell yourself, but you also don’t want to overcharge. Know the industry-standard rates for ghostwriters.
When you’re new, you’ll probably charge less than when you establish yourself.
When considering prices, remember:
- One-time fees
- Royalty payments
- Licensing fees
Read: How Much Do Rap Ghostwriters Make? (With Real Numbers)
11) Make Sure That Any Contract Specifies What’s Expected of Both Parties and How Work Will Be Submitted
If you’re ghostwriting lyrics, there may be deadlines for both lyrics and “rough mix” tracks.
Also, always get formal permission to use the rapper’s lyrics before you submit anything. Having everything in writing (and signed), will protect you from potential legal issues.
Formal contracts also ensure that you get paid for your work.
12) Keep Track of the Money That You Make
If another rapper or producer wants to hire you, then they’ll want to see your portfolio and positive reviews so they know that you’re legitimate.
The more professional you take ghostwriting, the more professional others will take you.
You will want to have a positive rating and be able to provide solid references so that you put your best foot forward.
13) Always Be Professional and Friendly
You may not know everyone in person, but ghostwriting is a small community.
It’s best to keep a good reputation.
Keep in contact with other ghostwriters and music industry insiders.
You never know who knows someone that might help you break into the business.
It is important to build a strong reputation so that you can earn more money and have a better chance of landing jobs.
14) Don’t Let Clients Take Advantage of You
It can be easy to be intimidated when you are first starting on the path of freelance ghostwriters for rap artists.
Be cautious and don’t let a bad client bully you or force you to contractually agree to lopsided fee structures.
As long as you get compensated fairly, there should be no problems.
15) Protect Yourself From Potential Legal Issues
If you’re ghostwriting for a rapper who’s signed to a major label, then the label will own the rights to your lyrics.
As always, it’s important to make sure that you have all of your paperwork in order before entering into any kind of agreement with a client.
One important step you can take is to copyright your lyrics.
16) Collaborate With a Ghostwriter if You Need Help
It’s a good idea to work with a team of two or three writers for maximum efficiency and creativity.
You can also both benefit from working together and you can learn from each other.
Lots of content creators collaborate—it works.
17) Don’t Limit Yourself
Don’t limit yourself to only one site such as Fiverr, Upwork, or your personal website.
Reach out to artists and producers that you know personally (or online) who might hire you for a job.
I’ve even heard of professionals landing contracts by scouring Craigslist ads.
You just never know.
It only takes one big break to get you noticed by the industry.
18) Offer an Outro or Hook That’s As Good as the Rest of Your Song
You can also offer to do a remix for an extra fee.
Adding extra benefits and services can work well and show artists that you are truly dedicated to your craft.
Always present your best work and never stop learning.
Your talent, more than anything else, is what will sustain your career.
19) Patience Is Key
Ghostwriting can be a long process and it might take some time for artists to contact you with job offers.
If the jobs aren’t coming in, then start networking and offer free or low-cost services such as offering samples of your work or free drafts.
Whatever you do, don’t give up.
It took me 20 years to develop a full-time writing lifestyle. It probably will not take you that long, but commit to staying with it until you make it.
20) Let the Music Lead You
Always remember to write with your heart and soul, not for what you think sounds hot in someone else’s song.
Be yourself and make your own music, too.
Ghostwriting for rap artists is a great way to help create new songs, but you should also always remember to work on your own personal projects as well.
It may not be what pays the bills immediately, but it will be what gives you longevity and life in the industry.
What’s The Fastest Way To Become a Ghostwriter for Rappers?
The fastest way to become a rap ghostwriter is to write and produce a successful popular song, know someone in the music industry, or get a well-known manager.
If you make a successful rap that goes “viral” online, rappers might come to you.
One of the best ways to get clients is to know someone in the industry, either manager, producer, or rapper.
By making good music and having it picked up by influencers like bloggers or rap stars, you can rapidly grow your client list.
How Not To Become a GhostWriter for Rappers
There are things that you do that will slow down or even prevent you from becoming a rap ghostwriter.
Three ways not to become a ghostwriter:
- Under charge for your services for too long
- Overcharge for your services
- Ignore popular trends
Undercharge for Your Services
One way not to become a rap ghostwriter is to charge too low of a price for too long.
It’s okay if you’re just starting out, but as soon as you have a steady clientele, you should be charging at least $100 for a track.
You can increase your prices over time.
Don’t undersell yourself because it could damage your reputation and credibility as an artist.
Rap ghostwriting is competitive, and you need to be able to compete with other artists.
Overcharge for Your Services
It is also not a good idea to charge too much.
Rap ghostwriters should never charge obscene amounts for a single track unless they have a proven track record and many years of experience under their belt.
Ghostwriters who overcharge will eventually lose business and hurt their reputation.
Ignoring Popular Trends
You may want to ghostwrite rap for the beauty of the artistry, but ignoring popular trends will only hold you back.
Rap is one of the most popular styles of music in America, and it likely will stay that way for a long time.
A proven way to become a rap ghostwriter is to adapt and adopt the latest trends.
More people are enjoying rap than ever before.
If you can write songs that capture the attention of the culture, you’ll have more opportunities than ever.
How Hard Is It To Become a Ghostwriter for Rappers?
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: breaking into rap ghostwriting is tough.
It’s a well-established industry dominated by veteran rap ghostwriters who have been in the business for years.
But it’s also an industry that is expanding rapidly as interest in rap music continues to grow.
Rap is now more popular than ever and there is a lot of work out there if you’re willing to hustle and stay active in the right communities.
It’s not easy, but you can make it happen with enough time and effort.
Final Thoughts: How To Become a Ghostwriter for Rappers
If I was going to suggest what you start doing right away, it would be to put up a website with your portfolio, develop your skill, and network with as many music industry professionals as you can find.