- Deane L. Root
A composer (or lyricist) who writes songs. The term is particularly applied to writers of popular songs in the 20th century. Songwriters began to be distinguished from other composers who wrote songs once it became possible for them to earn their living largely from the outright sale of, or royalties from, their works. Stephen Foster, whose income was derived solely from his songs, is generally regarded as the first successful songwriter in the USA, even though he died in poverty. The formation of performing rights organizations, such as ASCAP and BMI in America and PRS in Britain, and the passage of protective copyright laws enhanced the financial gain that songwriters could make from their works....