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The term "singer-songwriter" refers to an artist who creates their own musical content, including lyrics and melodies, as well as composing and performing it. According to the American Folk Music Association, the genre is based on the folk-acoustic heritage, but its significance has changed throughout the course of popular music history. Singer-songwriters are often the only ones who offer the accompaniment to a whole composition or song, usually utilising a guitar or a keyboard as their instrument. During the first decade of the twenty-first century, digital production tools such as GarageBand became more popular among singer-songwriters for composing their songs.

The term "singer-songwriter" (also known as "song-writer/singer") is used by record labels and critics to describe popular-music artists who write and perform their own material, which is frequently self-accompanied - typically on acoustic guitar or piano - and who are often self-taught in their craft. A multi-faceted artist, such as a composer, lyricist, singer, sometimes instrumentalist, and self-manager, performs a variety of tasks. Songwriters' lyrics are frequently personal but are obscured by complex metaphors and imprecise imagery, and their primary creative focus is to draw attention to the song rather than their delivery of it, according to AllMusic. The majority of songs by such musicians have a similar simple and sparse tone that emphasises the song's own uniqueness.