Get your songs heard – Submit your music to Songwriting Contests

by | May 27, 2014

As a songwriter, submitting your music to songwriting contests in the industry gives you an opportunity to receive feedback, expose your work and talent to music professionals, receive prizes, make contacts and further your career. The more you submit, the more of those opportunities you give yourself. Most competitions below will let you do multiple submissions, many of your tracks or the same one in multiple music categories. Some also have lyric only and music only categories. As a songwriter myself, I have had the opportunity to apply to one or more of those. The following list is only of the trialed and tested.

The International Songwriting Contest (ISC)

The International Songwriting Contest (ISC, ISC (International songwriting Competition) - Songwriting Contest is an annual song contest. I have found that the best way to remember to enter this particular contest is to subscribe to their newsletter. You will receive a reminder for the main contest but also news of any other offers or additional competitions they may run. The ISC is aimed at aspiring and established songwriters and arguably boasts the most prestigious panel of judges of all the songwriting and music contests. The ISC has 68 winners who share in the cash and prizes! Go to their website to view the prizes, see the available categories to submit in, read the judging criteria, see the judges, and submit your songs for an opportunity to win cash and prizes, further your music career, and potentially gain recognition and exposure in the music industry.

Categories include: AAA (Adult Album Alternative), Adult Contemporary (AC), Americana, Blues, Children’s Music, Comedy/Novelty, Country, Dance/Electronica, Folk/Singer-Songwriter, Gospel/Christian, Instrumental, Jazz, Latin Music, Lyrics Only, Music Video, Performance, Pop/Top 40, R&B/Hip-Hop, Rock, Teen, World Music, and Unsigned Only. Entrants may submit as many songs as they wish – in the same category or in multiple categories.

The John Lennon Songwriting contest

The John Lennon Songwriting ContestThe John Lennon Songwriting contest (JLSC, is an international songwriting contest that began in 1997. I remember the reason why I was entering the contest. It had the name “John Lennon” in it. It meant that I had the opportunity to have my name next to one my favourite artists. The Contest is open to amateur and professional songwriters. I remember being relieved that I could submit my not-so-polished, definitely not very professional piece. In fact, I was relieved about many things. I could submit all year-round in whichever of the 2 sessions was open and in any of 12 categories. I was a finalist in Session I of 2009 for my song Swollen (you can even hear my unpolished submission). The JLSC every year has 72 Finalists (3 finalists per session per category), 24 Grand Prize Winners, 12 Lennon Award Winners and 1 “Song of the Year.” Entries are judged on originality, melody, composition, and lyrics (if applicable). Well-known names grace the judges panel and it is your opportunity to put your sound in front of them.

The UK Songwriting Contest (UKSC)

I remember entering the UK Songwriting Contest (UKSC, with my songs Free Like Smoke. Free Like Smoke got a commended entry, and I am still not sure what that means. All the same, the UK Songwriting Contest is one of the longest running songwriting contests in the world. It was formed in London in 2002 with support from The BRIT Trust to promote the craft of songwriting from amateur and experienced songwriters alike and to encourage and discover new song writing talent. It is apparently “well-known in the music industry as a launching pad for new talent”. The site reports that many past contestants have been signed by publishers, producers and record companies – including signings by top industry names such as Simon Cowell. Many entrants have also received extensive radio play for their entries, TV appearances and press coverage and have gone on to successfully write for major artists. Go to the website to see more about the contest, its judges, prizes, its latest winners and more.

The USA songwriting competition - songwriting contestThe USA Songwriting Competition®

Since 1995, The USA Songwriting Competition® (, founded in the world’s leading international songwriting event, has been honoring songwriters, composers, bands, and recording artists around the world. This is open to all, regardless of nationality or country origin. Check the websites to find out about the categories, the amazing prizes (including airplay, the first for any songwriting competition) and to submit to this opportunity to get heard by top music industry professionals and the biggest names in the music business!

Songwriting Contests – Conclusion

I think songwriting contests best suit my personality. The only thing that is exposed is my music. It is the only thing I ever really wanted to expose. There are no transport fees, no logistics, no real jitters. You match what you do, your passion kids to the need and you don’t put all your heart in the process. You don’t lie to yourself that you are better than all, but you always give them that in what you have given your all (except the copyright of course). Remember that it is your choice which songwriting contest you go for. But remember most the reason for your choice: whether it is an opportunity to put your music into the ears of professionals including your idols, to win a prestigious competition that will add to your credentials, always keep in mind the rules of the game. Check the judging criteria, check the category, check out the judges, choose a song or songs that fit the contest, choose something not that you like but that corresponds most in your catalogue to the profile (category, etc.). If you chose not to for whatever reason or don’t win this time, don’t worry. The opportunity will still be here the year after, to partake, expose your talent to the music industry main players, win prizes, advance your music career, and win. Just reading this article, you have taken a few steps forward.

Editor’s notes

There are other ways for songwriters to promote themselves. They may submit their song for sync opportunities. Performing songwriters may check out songwriting festivals where they can perform, sell their merchandise and expose their talent and music.