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What are the benefits (if any) of entering songwriting contests?
By Mary Dawson - 02/01/2010 - 11:58 PM EST

Hey Mary,

Thanks for sharing your experience and information with so many people.

I was thinking about submitting some of my lyrics to a lyrics only contest put on by "The American Songwriter" magazine. What are your thoughts about participating in such contests as a way to garner some attention? Are the benefits worthwhile and are their specific contests that are better to enter than others?


Michael Barber
Bradenton, FL

Hi Michael:

Good question! There certainly are a lot of songwriting contests these days -- sponsored by Internet sites, songwriters organizations across the country, magazines and many other music entities. Here are a few "rules of thumb" that may help you decide what is right for you.

First, consider the prize. Is it something you could use or that would help you advance your career? There are many kinds of prizes offered in such contests. Some "prizes" are simply a membership to a songwriting organization, or a spot to perform onstage at a music festival somewhere. If it is not realistic for you to travel to the place where the prize is located, you may want to re-consider entering. I always look for CASH prizes -- or prizes that include music equipment that I could use in my writing. I won a guitar once in a contest. It was beautiful but I'm a keyboard player and don't intend to play guitar. It was, however, a great gift for my son!!!

Second, consider the entry fee -- You could literally go bankrupt entering all the contests that are now available. Some entry fees are relatively inexpensive...others are $30 or $40 a pop. You really need to be absolutely sure that your song is up to national standards before you start spending a lot of money on entering big, expensive contests. Perhaps have your song critiqued first by a songwriter who is more experienced or a music person in your area -- a disc jockey, or a vocalist with a good grasp of great songs -- not your Grandma who will love everything you do. Before you spend your bank account on a contest, consider buying a lottery ticket instead. /(^o^)\

Third, don't expect a lot of industry exposure and resulting success from contests -- Songwriting contests are fun and can be encouraging if you win or place. They can give you some kind of barometer on how other people relate to your song. And...sometimes, a winner gets lucky and the song gets cut by a national artist. However, those instances are rare. Enter for the fun of it...without a lot of expectations. Then, if you should win or attract the notice of an artist or producer, it will be icing on the cake.

I hope this helps a little. Please keep in touch and let me know if you win!!

Best of luck...


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