Songwriting competitions have long been a cornerstone in the world of music, offering a platform for aspiring lyricists and composers to showcase their talent. These songwriting contests not only serve as rites of passage for many in the industry but also provide invaluable exposure and networking opportunities.
With a broad spectrum of categories spanning across genres, they offer a level playing field for both budding songwriters and established musicians. Many a career has been launched through songwriting competitions, thanks to their ability to get your work in front of key industry figures, including record label executives, producers, and renowned artists.
So, whether you’re looking to make a name for yourself, learn from the best, or gain some extra recognition for your creative efforts, entering one of the songwriting competitions below could very well be your ticket to the next level in the music industry.
International Songwriting Competition (ISC)
The International Songwriting Competition is an annual song contest that offers aspiring and established songwriters a chance to have their work heard on a global stage. Founded in 2002 by Canadian songwriter Candace Avery, the competition is open to amateur and professional songwriters from all corners of the world. ISC has become a respected name in the industry and provides not only cash prizes but also exposure and networking opportunities.
Past ISC winners have gone on to sign record deals, have their songs recorded by major artists, and win prestigious awards like Grammys. The competition has received over 200,000 entries from over 150 countries since its inception, and is judged by a panel of industry professionals, including Grammy Award-winning producers, songwriters, and artists.
The ISC offers various prizes across its categories, including cash awards. The grand prize typically involves a substantial cash sum and a range of additional rewards like musical equipment, a scholarship to a reputable songwriting workshop, or opportunities for exposure like interviews and features in music publications.
The competition also offers Category Winners and Honorable Mentions, providing numerous chances for recognition and career advancement.
How to Enter
Participation typically involves submitting an original song via the ISC’s online portal or through the post. You’ll usually need to provide an audio recording of your song, along with its lyrics, if applicable. Depending on the category, even instrumental tracks can be submitted. There are often multiple categories that range from pop and rock to jazz, hip-hop, and even comedy/novelty songs, ensuring a wide array of genres are represented.
John Lennon Songwriting Contest
The John Lennon Songwriting Contest is an international competition established in 1997 with the endorsement of Yoko Ono Lennon. It offers songwriters the chance to earn recognition, cash prizes, and opportunities in the music industry. This contest has a rich history and is designed to discover emerging talent, giving winners not only a financial boost but also significant industry exposure.
The contest provides various cash prizes and music gear for different categories. The ultimate prize is often quite lucrative, comprising a substantial cash reward along with other incentives such as musical equipment or industry networking opportunities. Category Winners and Grand Prize Winners are usually announced, adding extra layers of achievement and recognition.
How to Enter
Entrants can typically submit their songs online through the contest’s website. You’ll need to provide an audio recording and, if the song has lyrics, a copy of them. The contest has various categories, allowing a wide range of genres from pop to country, electronic to jazz, and more to be represented.
The UK Songwriting Contest
The UK Songwriting Contest is an esteemed competition that’s been serving the British and international songwriting communities since its inception in 2002. It aims to discover new songwriting talent and offer career-enhancing opportunities, providing a platform for both novice and professional songwriters to gain industry recognition.
The UK Songwriting Contest offers an array of prizes across multiple categories, usually including cash awards. The grand prize often comprises a substantial financial award, industry exposure, and various other benefits like workshops and consultations with experts in the field. Additionally, category-specific winners and honourable mentions are also recognised.
How to Enter
To participate, songwriters usually submit their compositions via The UK Songwriting Contest’s official website. Submissions generally require an audio recording of the song and accompanying lyrics if applicable. The contest features multiple categories to accommodate a variety of genres, from pop and rock to electronic, folk, and more.
American Songwriter Contest
The American Songwriter Contest is a long-standing competition that focuses specifically on the lyrical aspect of songwriting. Founded in 1984, this contest has a rich history of discovering new talent and offering a platform for lyricists to receive recognition from industry professionals. It serves as an opportunity to hone your craft and get your lyrics in front of a large audience.
The American Songwriter Contest offers a range of prizes that often include cash awards and publication of the winning lyrics in American Songwriter Magazine. In addition, winners often receive musical equipment, subscriptions to songwriting resources, and other career-boosting opportunities. Some editions of the contest even offer co-writing sessions with established songwriters as part of the grand prize.
How to Enter
Entering the contest usually involves submitting your lyrics via the American Songwriter website. The submission typically involves a straightforward online form where you can upload your lyrics. Depending on the edition, there might also be themed categories that entrants can choose to submit their lyrics under, making the contest accessible to a wide range of lyrical styles and themes.
NSAI Song Contest
The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) Song Contest is one of the most reputable competitions in the songwriting world, aiming to celebrate and elevate the craft of songwriting. Founded by the NSAI, an organisation with a history dating back to 1967, the contest draws entries from both professional and amateur songwriters globally. It offers unparalleled networking opportunities and a chance to gain exposure in the country music capital of the world, Nashville.
Prizes in the NSAI Song Contest can be extensive and are designed to propel your songwriting career. They often include cash awards, songwriting retreats, mentoring sessions with industry professionals, and promotional opportunities to get your song heard by a broader audience. In some instances, winners have received recording sessions in Nashville studios as part of their prize package.
How to Enter
Entry into the NSAI Song Contest is usually done through their online portal. Along with the entry fee, you’ll need to submit an audio recording of your song and, if applicable, its lyrics. The competition often features multiple categories, covering a range of genres from country and pop to rock and hip-hop, allowing for a diverse collection of talent to be showcased.
Unsigned Only Music Competition
The Unsigned Only Music Competition is a unique contest designed specifically for independent artists who are not signed to a major record label. Founded in the early 2010s, the competition has rapidly gained prominence for offering unparalleled exposure to emerging talent. The contest is open to musicians of all genres and levels, from budding amateurs to seasoned professionals, and aims to find the best unsigned talent across the globe.
Unsigned Only offers an array of enticing prizes that can include a significant cash award and opportunities for exposure across multiple platforms. Prizes have been known to include features in music publications, radio airtime, professional consultations, and music gear. Winners in specific categories may also receive mentorship from industry professionals to help take their career to the next level.
How to Enter
To enter the competition, artists usually submit their original song through the Unsigned Only online portal. A recording of the song and its lyrics, if applicable, are required for submission. The competition often features various categories that can include pop, rock, country, R&B, and many other genres, providing a platform for a diverse range of musical styles.
SongDoor International Songwriting Competition
The SongDoor International Songwriting Competition is an annual event that has been facilitating songwriters since its inception in 2006. Catering to a wide range of musical genres, the competition aims to discover, encourage, and promote talented songwriters globally. SongDoor has made a name for itself by offering not just cash prizes but also invaluable resources and opportunities for exposure in the music industry.
Prizes for the SongDoor competition can be quite lucrative, often including a cash award for the grand prize winner. Additionally, winners may receive other perks such as musical equipment, software, and opportunities for professional development like consultations with industry experts. Category winners and honourable mentions also get a chance for recognition and some smaller prizes to advance their music careers.
How to Enter
To participate, songwriters need to submit their original works through the SongDoor online portal. The submission usually includes an audio recording of the song, accompanied by its lyrics if applicable. The competition boasts an extensive range of categories, from pop and country to rock and jazz, providing a platform for various musical styles and talents.
The Great American Song Contest
The Great American Song Contest is an annual songwriting competition that has been spotlighting both amateur and professional songwriters since 1999. Known for its commitment to helping songwriters achieve greater visibility and career advancement, the contest is a revered name in the American music industry but is open to entrants worldwide.
The contest offers a variety of prizes to winners, including cash awards. The grand prize winner often receives a substantial cash sum along with additional benefits like professional consultations and exposure opportunities. Apart from the grand prize, the competition has Category Winners and Honourable Mentions, which also come with their own set of smaller prizes and benefits.
How to Enter
Entries are commonly submitted through the Great American Song Contest’s online portal or by mail. The submission package generally includes an audio recording of the song and its lyrics if applicable. The contest hosts a wide array of musical categories, from pop and rock to country and folk, thus ensuring that a diverse range of musical talents have a chance to shine.
USA Songwriting Competition
The USA Songwriting Competition is an esteemed annual contest that has been offering songwriters an avenue for recognition since its inception in 1995. Focused on showcasing talent in songwriting across multiple genres, it aims to provide both amateur and professional songwriters an international platform to gain exposure and valuable industry contacts.
The competition offers a grand prize that usually includes a substantial cash award alongside other benefits such as musical equipment and software. Additional category-specific prizes and honourable mentions are also available, increasing the chances for recognition and career development.
How to Enter
Entering the competition generally involves submitting your original song through the competition’s online submission portal. The submission usually requires an audio recording of the song and its lyrics. The competition features a wide array of categories, covering genres from pop and rock to country, jazz, and beyond.
Eurovision Song Competition
The Eurovision Song Contest is a beloved annual international song competition, first held in 1956. While the contest includes participants from various countries, the UK has been a long-standing competitor with a notable history of both wins and memorable performances. The event is more than just a contest; it’s a celebration of music and culture, broadcast to millions of viewers worldwide.
Eurovision doesn’t offer cash prizes in the traditional sense but provides something arguably more valuable: a massive, international platform for exposure. A good performance can catapult an artist to international stardom.
How to Enter
In the UK, participants are often selected through a national selection process, which can vary from year to year. This might involve a televised competition, internal selection, or another method determined by the UK’s public broadcaster, the BBC. The selected act represents the UK in the larger Eurovision Song Competition.
What are you waiting for?
In the competitive world of music, sometimes all you need is that one break to set you on the path to stardom. These top 10 songwriting competitions offer more than just prizes; they offer the invaluable opportunity of exposure and the chance to be heard by industry insiders. Whether you’re an established songwriter or a new talent waiting for discovery, participating in these contests can open new doors and provide the kind of exposure that can turn a hobby into a career. So, ready your best tracks, set your creative juices flowing, and take that step towards making your musical dreams a reality.