The ASCAP Resource Guide: Songwriting Competitions
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Songwriting Competitions

Songwriting competitions provide networking opportunities and inspiration for your work. Here's a list of great competitions to further your songwriting career.

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AMERICAN SONGWRITER MAGAZINE'S LYRIC WRITING CONTEST

For 30 years, the American Songwriter Lyric Contest has helped thousands of songwriters become involved in our community.

Prizes: A Gibson guitar and Shure SM-58 Microphone. Top four winning lyrics and 10 honorable mentions for each contest are printed in an issue of American Songwriter and on our website. One overall winner per year receives airfare to Nashville and a demo session with a professional songwriter. 

How to Enter: Go to www.americansongwriter.com and click on “Lyric Contest.” Entry fee is $15.00 per song.

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GREAT AMERICAN SONG CONTEST

Created by songwriters, this innovative contest offers a positive alternative to the hype and high cost of the "big-cash-prize" competitions. The Great American Song Contest features opportunities to:

1) Have your songs heard by qualified professionals
2) Win prestigious awards and useful prizes
3) Advance your songwriting, promote your songs & open doors in the music business.
4) Low-cost & affordable entry fees.

Great American Song Contest judges listen thoroughly and respectfully to each and every song. Then they provide a detailed evaluation. Each participating songwriter receives the judges' written evaluations upon completion of the contest.

For more information, visit www.GreatAmericanSong.com

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INTERNATIONAL SONGWRITING COMPETITION

Internationally renowned for its high-caliber judges, ISC offers entrants a unique opportunity to have their songs heard by some of the most influential decision-makers in the industry. 

Prizes: Entrants compete for over $150,000 in cash and prizes, including an overall grand prize package of $25,000 cash and $20,000 in merchandise. ISC winners benefit from extensive press and publicity, gaining exposure and recognition from an international music market of industry professionals and fans.

Past and present ISC judges: Tom Waits; Brian Wilson; Loretta Lynn; B.B. King; Nelly Furtado; Sean "P. Diddy" Combs; Ornette Coleman; Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20); Pat Metheny; Sean Paul; Roseanne Cash; Robert Smith (The Cure); Michael W. Smith; Joe Satriani; Sonny Rollins; Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse); Clint Black; Ray Davies (The Kinks); MercyMe; Monte Lipman (President, Universal Records); Charlie Walk (President, Epic Records); Arif Mardin (VP/GM, Manhattan Records); Keith Wozencroft (President/A&R, EMI Records); and many more.

For more information, visit www.songwritingcompetition.com

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THE JOHN LENNON SONGWRITING CONTEST

The John Lennon Songwriting Contest is open to both amateur and professional songwriters. Songs may be entered in any of the following twelve categories: rock, country, jazz, pop, world, R&B, hip-hop, gospel/inspirational, Latin, electronic, folk and children's. Instrumental compositions are encouraged. 

Prizes: Beyond the substantial cash prizes, some winners will receive Yamaha Project Studio Equipment, Epiphone Guitars, Audio-Technica, and more. One entry will be named "Song of the Year" and that winner will receive an additional $20,000 as well as an enormous prize package. Overall, 120 winners will split over $300,000 in cash and prizes.

For more information, visit www.jlsc.com

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MID-ATLANTIC SONG CONTEST

The Songwriters’ Association of Washington (SAW), founded in 1979 as a nonprofit organization, holds the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest to help songwriters receive recognition and assistance in their musical endeavors. The proceeds from the contest enable SAW to provide programs throughout the year that educate and develop the talents of those interested in the art and business of songwriting.

For more contest info, visit www.saw.org/masc

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MOUNTAIN STAGE NEWSONG CONTEST

The Mountain Stage NewSong Contest is one of the premier showcases of talented singer-songwriters across multiple genres of music in North America. Contest winners get the opportunity to record an EP for free with a notable producer. In addition, the winner will perform at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, receive a performance showcase at the Sundance ASCAP Music Café, and perform on an internationally broadcast Mountain Stage (NPR) show.

The short list of those who have made their national debut on the show include the Barenaked Ladies, Ryan Adams, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, Alison Krauss and NewSong Recordings artists and former contest standouts Ingrid Michaelson, Chris Velan, Lora-Faye, Amber Rubarth, Arthur Alligood and Diana Jones.

Finalists and other contest standouts will also be invited to participate in future NewSong Music productions in various locations throughout the country, and will be candidates for film and television placement opportunities, as well as for future releases on the NewSong Recordings label. Non-winning finalists will also be considered for future Mountain Stage appearances. Contestants can designate the style of song they consider their entry to fit when entering tunes. The contest is open to all genres of music, although songs must include a vocal with lyrics to be considered to advance.

To learn more and enter the contest, visit www.newsong-music.com/contest

E-mail any further questions to contest@newsong-music.com.

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NSAI SONGWRITING CONTEST

CMT Presents the NSAI Song Contest. This nationwide platform is for aspiring songwriters in all genres to submit their best tunes with one Grand Prize Winner and one CMT Listeners’ Choice Winner. Prizes include mentoring sessions with famous songwriters, tickets to the CMT Music Awards, meetings with major music publishers, a one-year membership to NSAI and more.

For more information and updates, visit www.nashvillesongwriters.com and www.twitter.com/nsaiofficial.

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SONGDOOR INTERNATIONAL SONGWRITING COMPETITION

SongDoor's primary goals are to:

1) Provide a channel for new original music to be heard

2) Provide useful tools to improve writers' skills. 

All songs are fully screened by industry professionals with real connections to music publishing, producers, artists and labels, and are judged by industry pros who have worked with Neil Young, Justin Timberlake, Tony Bennett, Britney Spears, Kenny Rogers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Fray, Train and dozens of other notable artists. 

Each year, entrants are given a free unlimited-access trial to SongU.com plus a free songwriting software program (compatible with either Mac or Windows). 

Prizes: The total awards purse is valued at more than $40,000 and includes a full-band session demo (recorded and produced at Sixteen Ton Studio), a single-song publishing contract, exclusive pitching and networking opportunities, a comprehensive assortment of top-shelf songwriting software and more. The competition is open to amateurs and professionals worldwide.

Entry: Visit www.songdoor.com for full details. Entry fee is $10. You must be at least 16 years old to enter.

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THE USA SONGWRITING COMPETITION

USA Songwriting Competition, the world's leading international songwriting event honors songwriters, composers, bands, recording artists everywhere. Winners will be selected by a Blue Ribbon committee of music industry judges including record label publishers, producers from SONY Music, Warner/Reprise Records, etc. This is a chance to be discovered by the biggest names in the music business. And get a shot at the big time for unsung songwriters and original solo artists and indie bands everywhere around the world. A contest that might just open the right doors, make the right connections and get your songs heard. Also, winning songs will be receive radio airplay (the first for any songwriting competition!)

For more information, visit www.songwriting.net

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GUITAR CENTER SINGER-SONGWRITER CONTEST

ASCAP is pleased to be working with Guitar Center on their artist discovery program, the Guitar Center Singer-Songwriter contest, which aims to find the nation's best singer-songwriter talent.

Prizes: One unsigned singer-songwriter will win $25,000 cash, record a four-song EP with a noted producer, get a mentoring session with a professional singer-songwriter, perform at the ASCAP Sundance Music Café and receive a ton of new gear and software.

How It Works: Competing artists will be ranked based on their online fan growth during the first round. Ten singer-songwriters will then be hand-selected from the list of top-ranked artists to travel to Los Angeles where they will perform live during event's finale.

Entry: Submissions open in the fall of each year. Sign up at songwriter.amplifiertv.com/home

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THE CHRIS AUSTIN SONGWRITING CONTEST

The Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, hosted by MerleFest, offers songwriters the opportunity to have their original songs heard by a panel of professional songwriters and others from the Nashville music industry. The finals are held at the Austin Stage during MerleFest each year. In addition, the first place winner receives a performance slot on the Cabin Stage during MerleFest and other prizes. Grammy®-winning singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale is the volunteer chair of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. Recent winners have included Gillian Welch, Tift Merritt, Michael Reno Harrell, Adrienne Young and Martha Scanlan.

Net proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest go to the Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship at Wilkes Community College.

Chris Austin was a singer/songwriter from Boone, North Carolina, who was tragically killed in a private plane crash in the mountains near San Diego, California, with six other members of Reba McEntire’s band as well as her tour manager. This contest was created in his memory.

For more information, visit www.merlefest.org/CASC

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