Over the years, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with many wonderful independent musicians and song writers. In the last couple of years, most of my independent music library and the independent music I’ve decided to play during my radio shows has been acquired via the entries of various songwriting competitions.
I believe that entering a songwriting competition is an invaluable tool for any song writer/musician who’s either just beginning, looking to hone their craft, needs inspiration and direction with their music, and/or who wants to have their music heard, wants their music easily distributed and wants free promotion. Unless you are super famous and are already making loads of money, which is not the majority of music makers, this is probably you.
There is a smorgasbord of songwriting competitions out there for you to either participate in or, if you are not a musician but a lover of music, for you to follow and, by following them, support the careers of the people who need it the most: the independent musician.
Song Fight is MC Frontalot’s old stomping grounds. The rules are pretty simple. Once a week, a new challenge, aka fight, goes up. The musician has to write a song using the title of the challenge. As an example, the title of the last fight is You Are the Heartbeat of This Office For Sure. That means, if 20 people enter that challenge, there will be 20 songs with that as their title and they will be each based on that title. Every thing else is basically up to the musician. It is that simple. There is no need to sign-up. You just record the song and submit it whenever you feel like jumping into the competition. After the deadline, songs are made available for the public to listen to and vote on. You can find out more information about Song Fight here.
Nur Ein is an off-shoot of Song Fight. Held in the Spring of each year, it consists of eight rounds. Like Song Fight, each song must be named something specific. Also like Song Fight, to enter the competition, you simply submit a song to Round Zero, once the competition is announced. Unlike Song Fight, you are given an additional mandatory challenge. The timeline is also more rigorous, the submission process is a little bit different, the way the songs are scored and judged are different, there are eliminations, and more. You can find out more information about Nur Ein here.
On the surface, this challenge seems simple: Write 50 songs in 90 days. Held between July 4 – October 1, song writers try to write and record one song, every two days, for nearly three months. Weekly challenges are also given, but they are not compulsory. They are there to help you with ideas if you hit creative wall. You can find out more information about the 50/90 Challenge here.
The RPM Challenge
On the surface, this challenge also looks simple: Write and record an album in 28 days. To be more specific, you need to write 10 songs or 35 minutes worth of music during the month of February. Once you’ve recording your album and have placed it on a CD, you mail it or hand-deliver it by to the RMP HQ. After they receive it, participants will get their own page on the RPM website. You can find out more information about the RPM Challenge here.
As the title of this competition suggests, you are piecing together a song. What… what? After you sign-up for the competition, you are assigned to a team. The team is given a seed track. Whoever goes first, builds on the seed track and then passes it on to the next team member. The second team member builds on the seed track, plus what the first member did and then passes it on to the next member. This is repeated until each team member has finished building upon what’s been created up to the point they receive the track. So far, this competition has only taken place once. Hopefully soon, Frankensong 2 will take place. You can find out more information about Frankensong here.
Out of all the songwriting competitions, this one is my favourite, and not because I was a judge in SpinTunes 1. The reason why this is my favourite competition is because of the wonderful community that surrounds it.
Rising out of the ashes of The Masters of Song Fu, SpinTunes is a mix of Song Fu and Nur Ein. Once the contest is open, any one can register. To consider yourself officially entered, you must submit a song to Round 1. There are four rounds in total. Each round is judged and reviewed by a panel of at least five judges. Those with the lowest scores, or those who fail to submit a song, are eliminated. The number of people eliminated each round depends on how many people successfully complete the first challenge. These challenges can be topical, technical, genre-based, point of view challenges, and more. Last week, I interviewed some of the SpinTunes musicians, past and present. If you want to have a good idea of what you’ll be getting yourself into by entering this, or any, competition, you can listen to and download the interview here. You can find out more information about SpinTunes here.
There is one more songwriting challenge I want to bring your attention to: The Songwriting Cycle. The reason why I haven’t mentioned it above is because it does not have an official website. However, to get an idea of what it is all about, I invite you to read about the results for Songwriting Cycle #1 and Songwriting Cycle #2. If you follow me on Twitter or SpinTunes on Twitter, you’ll find out when the next Songwriting Cycle will begin.
I am sure there are a lot more songwriting competitions for you to sink your creativity into. But I think this is a good place to start, especially if you are needing an extra kick in the pants to create or need a sense of direction.
Also, don’t forget that entering these competitions is free publicity and a way for you to get your music heard, plus gain valuable feedback from other songwriters, gain possible collaborators and/or have your music critiqued by a panel of judges. Entering a songwriting competition is just one of the many new marketing tools at your disposable. Later this week, I’ll give you more tools.
Jules Sherred is a nerd. He is also the parent of two boys–one teen and one newly adult–a freelance writer, a web designer, the author of Five Little Zombies and Fred, the General Manager and radio personality at The Look 24/7, he owns the largest Star Trek community on Google+, Geeky Pleasures creator, geek support for Parsec Award winning The Minister of Chance, writes for Quirk Books, owner of TransCanuck and more. You can follow Jules on Twitter @GeekyJules and circle him on Google+.