Every musician wants to be heard, and to achieve this we ask ourselves questions like “How do I upload music to iTunes”, “How can I book more gigs”, “How can I gain more fans” and many, many more. Some artists think one way to answer these questions is by entering a song competition. This can lead to more exposure for your music, as well as possible awards or prize money. However, it can also have drawbacks that make artists question whether or not they are worth entering.
There are some very well known song competitions in the US and around the world, and some that offer large sums of prize money. The John Lennon Songwriting Contest allows artists to enter a song from 12 different categories. A variety of prizes are available, the largest being 20,000 dollars, and it is also a great career boost. This could be more beneficial than just figuring out how to upload music to iTunes. The Unisong Contest based in LA and the International Songwriting Contest based in Nashville are also well known competitions that offer prizes and cash for the winner. These contests can give artists who are just starting out a confidence boost and maybe even a few thousand dollars to spend on making more music. The judges are also often high-profile musicians and music executives, so entering your song could lead to valuable connections. While the nationwide contests are very competitve, a simple google search yields hundreds of results for smaller competitions in your area that could be worth looking into.
Songwriting competitions are generally well respected, and they require songs that are written and performed by you. However, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think about song competitions are televised reality shows like American Idol or The Voice. If you think about the typical contestant on one of these shows, there are very few with alternative styles. There is a reason for this – the singers do not write their own songs, they appeal to a mainstream audience and make songs geared toward radio play, and they are subject to strict contracts. Winning a competition like this means getting a lot of money, a recording deal, and a lot of visibility – but strings are attached. American Idol makes you go on tour with them and you are obligated to a contract for years. The Voice’s contract has been called ‘dehumanizing’ as it allows the network to portray their artists in any way, and even to kick them off the show for any reason. In general, these are not contests Indie artists would probably want to be a part of.
There might be other opportunities that come your way in which you can enter a song of yours to be played for free. Artists are convinced to do this because of the promise of their songs reaching more listeners and the possibility of more fans who will then go buy your song. This may or may not be the case. Recently both Oprah and “The Daily Show” were criticized for asking artists to perform for them for free – the only benefit being ‘exposure’. Sometimes artists choose to submit their music under these types of circumstances, and it is up to you to judge whether or not it is worth your time.
There are hundreds of different competitions and contests that are all very different from one another. While major song competitions have major drawbacks, and some contests might end up not being worth your time, there’s no harm in trying out a well-reputed competition to give your band a confidence boost, and maybe even a little extra cash. For more Indie news and answers to questions like “How do I upload music to iTunes” “How to sell music online” and “How to gain more fans”, follow our blog!