Olivia Rodrigo Explained Why She Likes Songwriting More Than Dropping Music
“It’s important for me to be taken seriously as a songwriter,”
Bad news: Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour won’t be here until May 21, so you’re going to have to wait another week before jamming out to the album in its entirety. But there’s good news, too: the “drivers license” starlet just put out a new single called “good 4 u,” which should tide fans over until Sour rocks their world. Released May 14, the brand new bop is the third single the 18-year-old artist has released from her debut project. Yet, despite being so consistent about putting out work, Olivia Rodrigo likes songwriting more than dropping new music — and her reason why will leave you shook.
Rodrigo is a singer, but those impressed by her songs (and aware of her tracks’ production credits) may have realized the teen musician pens her own music. Sour was written by just Rodrigo and her sole writing collaborator, songwriter-producer Dan Nigro. On top of that, her day-ones know all about Rodrigo’s obsession with Taylor Swift — another pop star who uniquely writes all of her own music. So, it isn’t too surprising that in recent interviews with Billboard and NME, Rodrigo revealed that even though she uses her voice to share her stories, she primarily identifies as a songwriter, not a singer. (We love a girl who can do both!)
“With ‘drivers license’, there were a lot of people who were like, ‘Yo, I’ve never heard of this girl before but I really like this song,' which to me was the dream — to get a brand new introduction to people just as a songwriter,” she told NME in a May 2021 interview. “I consider myself a songwriter first and I’m really happy that people are starting to recognize me as such.”
So, there you have it: Rodrigo is primarily a songwriter. She even confessed to Billboard she actually prefers writing over releasing new music and wants to write for other artists. “The second the album cycle for [Sour] is over and I’m not traveling, that’s the one thing that I want to do so bad,” she said in May. “I always said that I wanted to do that: Maybe when I was, like, 30 or something and I had kids — I’d stop making music and just write for other people. Because I just love songwriting. I love songwriting more than putting out songs.”
Hopefully no one has to wait 12 whole years before Rodrigo starts writing mega-hits for other rising talents — but it is refreshing to see a young musician so confident in her craft and long-term goals. The lyricist also means business: “It’s important for me to be taken seriously as a songwriter,” she told NME.
Since she’s a young, multi-talented woman in the music industry, it makes total sense Rodrigo has continually emphasized she wants to be mainly seen as a songwriter and lyricist rather than just a performer. In a male-dominated business, female musicians' songwriting contributions and skills are frequently overlooked.
Less than six percent of musicians in the Songwriters Hall of Fame are women, and commercially successful female artists who identify heavily as songwriters — like Mariah Carey, Taylor Swift, or Rodrigo herself — are still often foremost labeled as performers or singers, not writers.