Justin Tranter

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Justin Tranter
Tranter at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival
Justin Drew Tranter

(1980-06-16) June 16, 1980 (age 43)
  • Songwriter
  • singer
  • activist
Years active2002–present
Musical career
OriginLake Zurich, Illinois, U.S.
Formerly ofSemi Precious Weapons

Justin Drew Tranter (born June 16, 1980) is an American songwriter, singer, and activist. Frequently co-writing with Julia Michaels, Tranter has written songs for artists such as Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Linkin Park, Kelly Clarkson, Sara Bareilles, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, DNCE, Citizen Queen, Kesha, Imagine Dragons, The Knocks, Fifth Harmony, 5 Seconds of Summer, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, RAYE, Bea Miller, Demi Lovato, Dua Lipa, Måneskin, and Fall Out Boy. From 2004 to 2014, Tranter was the lead singer of Semi Precious Weapons, a rock band based in New York. Since February 2017, they have been a board member of GLAAD, an organization that promotes LGBT acceptance in the entertainment and news industries. Tranter's songs have garnered over 50 million single sales and 40 billion streams on Spotify and YouTube as of May 2021.[1]

Early life[edit]

Justin Drew Tranter was born and grew up in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. They have three older brothers.[2] Tranter says that they experienced bullying during their youth,[3] which caused them to be transferred from the Lake Zurich public high school to the Chicago Academy for the Arts after a semester.[2][4] While studying musical theater at the Academy, they started the AIDS Benefit, an annual show run by students to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS.[4][5] Tranter graduated in 1998.[5] Following this, they studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Along with songwriting, they also took classes in business management.[6] While at Berklee, they founded Musicians with a Mission, a scholarship fund for LGBT youth education.[6]

Musical career[edit]

2002–2004: Career beginnings[edit]

Tranter released their debut studio album Scratched in 2002 and followed it up with their second studio album Tear Me Together in 2004.[6]

2004–2014: Semi Precious Weapons[edit]

Semi Precious Weapons performing with Lady Gaga at Lollapalooza 2010

In 2004, following the release of Tear Me Together, Tranter formed the band Semi Precious Weapons in New York with fellow Berklee graduates Cole Whittle, Dan Crean, and Aaron Lee Tasjan;[6] Tasjan was later replaced by Stevy Pyne.[7] The band's debut studio album We Love You was released in 2008 and the band subsequently opened for Lady Gaga on her Monster Ball Tour from 2009 to 2011.[8] Semi Precious Weapons released two more albums, You Love You (2010) and Aviation (2014), before disbanding in 2014.[9] While still part of Semi Precious Weapons, Tranter moved to Los Angeles and signed a publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music in 2012 to write songs for other artists.[7]

2014–present: Focus on songwriting[edit]

After signing with Warner Chappell, Tranter began working with artists such as Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Hailee Steinfeld, Fifth Harmony, and Fall Out Boy.[10] In December 2015, Tranter was named one of the "20 Biggest Breakouts of 2015" by Rolling Stone for their songwriting contributions to the pop charts of that year.[11] Tranter frequently collaborates with Julia Michaels and multiple songs co-written by the pair have appeared on Billboard charts; two such tracks, Gomez's "Good for You" and Bieber's "Sorry", topped the Mainstream Top 40.[12] Tranter and Michaels also teamed up to co-write Gwen Stefani's third solo studio album This Is What the Truth Feels Like (2016).[13] Tranter has since written for artists ranging from Britney Spears and Demi Lovato to Imagine Dragons and Linkin Park.[2][14]

Tranter has worked on music for film and television. They co-wrote the song "Home" performed by Nick Jonas for the soundtrack to the animated film Ferdinand (2017), which earnt Tranter a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song at the 2018 ceremony.[9] They also co-wrote "Hindsight", the end title song for Billy Eichner's film Bros (2022).[15] Furthermore, Tranter was an executive producer and songwriter for the soundtracks to the Hulu film Happiest Season (2020),[16] Billy Porter's directorial debut Anything's Possible,[17] the Netflix film Purple Hearts (both 2022),[18] the Paramount+ Grease prequel television series Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies (2023),[19] and Larin Sullivan's film The Young King.[20]

Tranter received a nominations for the Grammy Award for Songwriter of the Year, Non-Classical at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards for their work on songs by Reneé Rapp, Måneskin, Marisa Davila, Baby Tate, Talk, and Miley Cyrus.[21]


Tranter performing at the 2018 edition of LoveLoud, a fundraising festival for LGBT youth[22]

Tranter's activism began in high school at the Chicago Academy for the Arts, where they created the annual AIDS Benefit to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS.[4][5] This was followed by Musicians with a Mission, a scholarship fund for LGBT youth education that Tranter founded while attending the Berklee College of Music.[6]

Tranter flew to Orlando to help in the aftermath of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting.[7] They also co-wrote and co-organized the release of the charity single "Hands" to raise funds for Equality Florida's Pulse Victims Fund, GLAAD, and the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida.[23]

In February 2017, Tranter joined GLAAD's National Board of Directors.[24] During the GLAAD Media Awards of that year, Tranter raised $123,000 for the organization by auctioning off four individual songwriting and recording sessions.[25] Each year, Tranter hosts an in-person Spirit Day concert to raise funds for GLAAD's efforts to support LGBT youth. The fourth annual event in 2022 raised $400,000.[26]

Tranter is also a supporter of Mercy for Animals and stopped eating meat in 1994.[3]

On November 17, 2019, Tranter was honored with the ACLU of Southern California's Bill of Rights Award for their activist work as "an outspoken and powerful voice for the LGBTQIA+ community, diversity, the climate crisis, arts education, animal rights, and ending gun violence".[27]

Personal life[edit]

Tranter is bisexual,[28] gender nonconforming,[29] and non-binary.[30] They have stated that, with regard to pronouns, "they/them/theirs is what I relate to the most".[29]

Other ventures[edit]

Tranter's jewelry company, Fetty, grew out of necklaces they designed to sell as merchandise for the Semi Precious Weapons shows. Fetty sold at retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Barneys.[31] The designs typically feature hearts and weapons.[31] In 2008, Tranter designed a limited-edition sneaker for DKNY.[32]

Tranter is the founder and CEO of Facet Records and Publishing, which looks after a roster of artists, songwriters, and producers.[33]

Television and film appearances[edit]

In 2008, Tranter appeared as a guest on the E! cable network show Chelsea Lately.[34] In December of the same year, they served as a coach on the MTV reality show Made, in which they helped a young girl transform into a "rock star".[35] In 2010, Tranter and their fellow Semi Precious Weapons members had cameo appearances in Lady Gaga's music video for "Telephone".[36][37] In 2012, Tranter was interviewed for the documentary feature film Jobriath A.D. about rock musician Jobriath.[38]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Work Category Result Ref.
2003 Outmusic Awards "Blend In" Out Song of the Year Won
2017 BMI Pop Awards Themself Pop Songwriter of the Year Won
2018 Golden Globe Awards "Home" Best Original Song Nominated
2018 Grammy Awards "Issues" Song of the Year Nominated
2018 BMI Pop Awards Themself Pop Songwriter of the Year Won
2019 ACLU Bill of Rights Dinner Themself Bill of Rights Award Won
2024 Grammy Awards Themself Songwriter of the Year, Non-Classical Pending



  • Scratched (2002)
  • Tear Me Together (2004)

Semi Precious Weapons[edit]

Featured appearances[edit]

Year Title Album
2013 "Endwell"
(Bleu featuring Justin Tranter and Mike Taylor)
To Hell with You
2015 "Our World"
(Shapov featuring Justin Tranter)
Axtone Ten
2016 "Tied to You"
(The Knocks featuring Justin Tranter)

Soundtrack appearances[edit]

Title Year Album
"Forever" 2017 The Lego Batman Movie: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


  1. ^ Aswad, Jem (May 13, 2021). "Music Industry Moves: Justin Tranter Signs With Range Media Partners". Variety. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Barlow, Eve (June 24, 2021). "Justin Tranter: the Hits Pride Special Interview". Hits Daily Double. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Martins, Chris (October 2, 2018). "School of Pop: How Justin Tranter Became the Man Behind (Almost) Every Song You Love". Playboy. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "Justin Tranter". Chicago Academy for the Arts. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c "17th Annual Academy AIDS Benefit". Email Campaign Archive from the Chicago Academy for the Arts. 2014. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e j. poet; Rovi. "Semi Precious Weapons on Apple Music". Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c "Justin Tranter (Los Angeles, CA) (February 2017-Present)". GLAAD. February 22, 2017. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  8. ^ Browne, David (August 5, 2010). "Inside Lady Gaga's Monster Ball, Summer's Biggest Tour". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c Michelson, Noah (January 24, 2018). "Pop Hitmaker Justin Tranter Is Taking No Prisoners On His Rise To The Top". HuffPost. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  10. ^ Garibaldi, Christina (November 4, 2015). "This Rocker Has Been Writing All Of Your Favorite Pop Songs". MTV. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  11. ^ Edwards, Gavin; Harris, Keith; Spanos, Brittany (December 28, 2015). "20 Biggest Breakouts of 2015". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  12. ^ Coscarelli, Joe (July 8, 2014). "How an Unlikely Duo Became the Hottest Songwriters in Pop Music". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 4, 2021. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  13. ^ Feeney, Nolan (March 18, 2016). "Gwen Stefani: How Making My New Album Saved My Life". Time. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  14. ^ Daly, Rhian (August 8, 2017). "Julia Michaels says she has a 'hard time listening to' the song she co-wrote with Linkin Park". NME. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  15. ^ Kaplan, Ilana (November 30, 2022). "Jake Wesley Rogers on his Elton John cosign and the best advice he got from Justin Tranter". Alternative Press. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  16. ^ Exposito, Suzy (November 27, 2020). "'My dream come true': How LGBTQ history was made with the 'Happiest Season' soundtrack". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  17. ^ Pener, Degen (July 14, 2022). "Billy Porter Spotlights Trans Coming-of-Age Story in Directorial Debut 'Anything's Possible'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  18. ^ Grobar, Matt (September 27, 2021). "'Purple Hearts': Netflix YA Pic Adds Chosen Jacobs, John Harlan Kim & More To Cast, Sets Justin Tranter & Sofia Carson As Songwriters". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  19. ^ Petski, Denise (January 31, 2022). "'Grease: Rise Of The Pink Ladies': Paramount+ Prequel Series Sets Cast As Production Begins". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  20. ^ Ravindran, Manori (October 21, 2022). "Michael Shannon, Barbie Ferreira, Kiersey Clemons to Star in Drag King Drama 'The Young King'". Variety. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  21. ^ "2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List | GRAMMY.com". www.grammy.com. Retrieved November 12, 2023.
  22. ^ Kaufman, Gil (April 2, 2018). "Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds' LoveLoud Festival 2018 Lineup: Zedd, Mike Shinoda, Grace VanderWaal & More". Billboard. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  23. ^ Wilker, Deborah (July 6, 2016). "Britney Spears, Pink, Selena Gomez Join 'Hands' for Orlando: How the All-Star Song Came to Life". Billboard. Archived from the original on July 7, 2016. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  24. ^ Frankel, Jillian (February 10, 2017). "Hitmaker Justin Tranter Joins GLAAD's National Board of Directors: 'I'm Using the Success I've Had to Help Other People Shine'". Billboard. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  25. ^ Crowley, Patrick (May 17, 2017). "GLAAD Media Awards: Songwriter Justin Tranter Raises $123K With Auction for Studio Sessions". Billboard. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  26. ^ Moayeri, Lily (October 20, 2022). "Justin Tranter Welcomes Billy Porter, Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds for Fourth Annual 'Beyond' Benefit; Raises $400,000 for LGBTQ Youth". Variety. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  27. ^ Daw, Stephen (November 18, 2019). "Justin Tranter Celebrates ACLU Award Win With Pal Selena Gomez: See the Sweet Post". Billboard. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  28. ^ Nunn, Jerry (April 21, 2010). "Semi Precious Weapons' Justin Tranter on Gaga, Chicago". Windy City Times. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  29. ^ a b Masters, Jeffrey (January 21, 2020). "Songwriter Justin Tranter: "My Femininity Is So Important To Me"". The Advocate. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  30. ^ Aswad, Jem (June 2, 2021). "Hitmaker Justin Tranter on LGBTQ Advocacy, Allyship: 'Without Marginalized People, Music Is Gonna Get Really Bad'". Variety. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  31. ^ a b US (April 21, 2009). "Fetty's Pricey Line Gets Drastically Cheaper For Urban Outfitters". Refinery29. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  32. ^ Newman, Sabrina (February 7, 2008). "StyleHive Sneak Peek: Justin Tranter's Exclusive DKNY Sneaker Line". StyleHive. Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  33. ^ Wass, Mike (June 10, 2022). "How Justin Tranter's Facet Records and Publishing is Transforming the Music Biz From Within". Variety. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  34. ^ Voss, Brandon (December 3, 2008). "Big Gay Following: Chelsea Handler". The Advocate. Retrieved October 14, 2023.
  35. ^ "MTV MADE: Rock Star. Season 9, Episode 30". MTV. Archived from the original on December 21, 2008. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  36. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (February 12, 2010). "Beyonce, Lady Gaga Are 'Magical' In 'Telephone' Video, Semi Precious Weapons Say". MTV. Retrieved October 14, 2023.
  37. ^ Crowley, Patrick (June 12, 2017). "Justin Tranter on Homophobia In the Music Industry & Why Halsey Is 'The Realest of the Real Deal'". Billboard. Retrieved October 14, 2023.
  38. ^ Hiler, James (November 25, 2013). "'Jobriath A.D.,' Documentary on 'The True Fairy of Rock and Roll,' Acquired by Factory 25". IndieWire. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  39. ^ Doyle, JD. "Outmusic Awards Data". Queer Music Heritage. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  40. ^ "Warner/Chappell Named Music Publisher of the Year at BMI Pop Awards". Music Business Worldwide. May 10, 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2017. We're so proud of Justin Tranter and Ross Golan, who won 2017 Songwriter of the Year, and all of our winners tonight.
  41. ^ "Justin Drew Tranter". Grammy.com. The Recording Academy. November 23, 2020. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  42. ^ "Mark Ronson Receives the BMI Champion Award at the 66th BMI Pop Awards". BMI.com. May 8, 2018. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  43. ^ "2019 Bill of Rights Dinner". ACLU of Southern California. November 16, 2019. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  44. ^ "Grammy Awards 2024: The Full List of Nominees". The New York Times. November 10, 2023. Retrieved November 10, 2023.

External links[edit]