A fellow musician sent Fred a Facebook message with a link to The USA Songwriting Competition. He suggested we enter one of our original songs. Even though I’ve been writing lyrics for a year and a half now, I have no idea what a songwriting competition entails. I vaguely know that it’s a contest, with prizes perhaps, but I’m not sure on the details. So, I decided to do a little digging:
What is a songwriting competition?
It’s a contest that lyricists can enter to compete with other songwriters for prizes and recognition. The most notable songwriting competitions are held annually. Some contests are general or broken up into genres, and some may be looking for very specific musical styles.
A songwriting competition is a chance for a lyricist to compete against other lyricists within various categories of song.
Why enter a songwriting competition?
Well, for a legitimate songwriting competition, a certain amount in prizes and notoriety will be awarded. Beyond that, there is something to be said for the value competition gives in and of itself.
Whenever we compete, we bring our best for the purpose of winning. On our own, we may be great, but when we really see how our works stack up against others doing similar work, it pushes us further, it makes us dig deeper. So, prize or no prize, you have still won. You have stretched yourself beyond your comfort zone into something better.
“I’m in competition with myself and I’m losing.” -Roger Waters, songwriter
How do you enter a songwriting competition?
To enter a songwriting competition, you first need to find out the requirements. The most legitimate ones have a website with this information. For The USA Songwriting Competition, we need to send an MP3, so I’ll have to convert a file into the correct format.
Next, you’ll need to choose your song. I’m choosing the first song we wrote, Cynical, so I’m converting the video I have into an MP3 to enter it online.
Send it in! Each competition will have different requirements, but most will have an online form you can send with your entry along with a standard fee ranging from around $10-$40 per submission.
“An artist is somebody who enters into competition with God.” -Patti Smith, songwriter
What are the best songwriting competitions?
The USA Songwriting Competition grand prize winner will receive $50,000 in cash and merch. But this is just one of many, many you can enter. And we plan on entering more singing competitions in the future.
You may also be interested in…
International Songwriting Competition: this one has a long list of well-established judges including Coldplay, Nancy Wilson, and George Thorogood!
American Songwriter Annual Song Contest: a win in the top three will get you featured in the magazine and lifetime subscription!
The John Lennon Songwriting Contest: not only are Flea and George Clinton on the judge roster, the grand prize winner takes home $20,000 cash!
…and these are just a handful of the many songwriting competition opportunities!
So, we’re gonna enter this contest, procrastinating until just before deadline as I do with everything else, and if you’re a songwriter, and you can swing the entry fee, you should too! Entering a songwriting competition can test your skills and creativity. Even if you get a 2nd or 3rd place prize, you could win some cash and merch. You could gain some new fans and friends along the way. Why the hell not?
“When it comes to luck, you make your own.” -Bruce Springsteen, songwriter
About our submission
Cynical was a surprise. I’d been showing Fred some of my old poetry from The Sentimental Totes, and then it reawakened that side of me. I started writing poetry again, proving to Fred what I had told him about my previous poetry… I don’t write it, it comes to me… It comes through me. He witnessed me writing eloquent, complete, thoughtful pages of material in mere minutes. Many of our original songs were written in less than 15 minutes, with minor polishing afterward.
One day during my years-long trauma recovery, these words came to me. Fred put music to the words. I found a way to sing the words with the music. We did all of this within a couple of hours and then created our first original music video. I still hadn’t memorized the words yet.