Why Songwriting Contests?
Sure, now (more than ever) there’s plenty of different platforms to release your music through. SoundCloud, Bandcamp, and even getting your music on Spotify and Apple Music can be done in a few simple steps.
However, outside of one-in-a-million stroke of luck scenario, the chances of getting recognized and put on playlists is slim.
So, how do you get your work in front of people? How can you build industry connections and get signed, all while continuing to work on your music?
Well, one of the best ways is by entering songwriting contests.
These contests can be an excellent way to have your music judged by a range of critics.
It’s also a chance to have your music reviewed and critiqued (and hey, who doesn’t want some prize money)!
So, if you’re thinking of pitching your newest single, try out some of these songwriting contests to see what people think of your music!
1. The John Lennon Songwriting Contest
The John Lennon Contest was founded by Yoko Ono in 1997 to honor the famous singer-songwriter himself.
For beginners, this competition is perfect as the contest emphasizes originality, melody, lyrics, and composition. You don’t need a super high-quality recording, just something where the judges can get a chance to see your music shine.
The 2023 session opens February 15, 2023, so definitely check this one out!
2. The USA Songwriting Competition
Despite the title, this competition is open to international applicants, and it features a chance to have your music reviewed by some of the most influential names in the most industry.
The USA Songwriting Competition features judges who’ve worked as record label publishers and producers with huge publishing companies, including Universal Music, Warner, and Sony Music.
This is an incredible opportunity to get your name in front of industry professionals, and hopefully pivot that exposure into a chance to sign a record deal!
3. International Songwriting Competition
The International Songwriting Competition features a pretty impressive range of genre that they choose to judge.
Enter everything from Jazz to Latin to Rock in this contest. No need to worry about your niche genre disqualifying you from applying to a songwriter’s competition.
Submissions are judged based on lyrics, likeability, originality, creativity, melody, and arrangement. If you’re looking for a competition to test the overall strength of your song, this is a great choice!
4. SongDoor International Songwriting Competition
SongDoor focuses entirely on giving songwriters a chance to have their music heard.
Their mission statement reads, “We’re here to help make you a better songwriter by giving you free opportunities and tools toward that goal.”
Though there is an application fee, SongDoor works hard to keep the fee is low as possible so that their competition functions solely as an avenue for aspiring musicians to get their music heard.
They feature plenty of amazing testimonials from past applicants, so definitely give this one a try!
5. The Mid-Atlantic Song Contest
The Mid-Atlantic Song Contest (or MASC) has an amazing panel of judges (which they love to brag about)!
The team that works with the MASC promise to listen carefully and give each entrant a fair chance at having their music heard. If you’ve ever applied to a song contest and felt like you weren’t given a fair shot, the MASC works to eliminate that fear.
Contestants compete to win monetary prizes, studio time, and recording credits, so if you’re looking to hopefully win a little cash back, this is a great contest to try out for!
6. The Great American Song Contest
The Great American Song Contest offers an award even if you don’t win their competition!
What is this award, you say? A written evaluation of your song from an industry professional!
This feedback from music-industry pros is super valuable. Even though there’s a chance at $15,000 in prizes, the incentive to hear back from those working in the music field is pretty tempting itself!
7. The Grawemeyer Awards
The Grawemeyer Awards are a prestigious compositional contest, founded by H. Charles Grawemeyer.
The Awards have multiple disciplines, but the music awards focus primarily on choral, orchestral, chamber, electronic, song-cycle, dance, opera, musical theater, and extended solo work.
If you’re a budding composer or writer and want to try your hand in a competition, this is definitely the one for you.
If you’re ready to apply to one of these but need to start working on a song, check out some of my other posts on songwriting tips, as well as how to write a song!