Your questions is almost certainly answered here. If not, use the support link at the bottom of the page.
Q: When can I enter? A: The contest is now closed for entries. Get updates on contest dates and the latest news on our Facebook pages or on Twitter.
Q: How do I enter? A:The entry form will be on this website when the next contest starts. After you submit a song you will see it confirmed in your personal song dashboard at SubmitMySong.com and check its progress in the event. USA entrants share the main dashboard with UKSC entrants. There are more details about how to enter on the How To Enter page.
Q: What is the USA - UK connection? A:The USA Songwriting Contest is the American entry edition of the long running UK Songwriting Contest - formed in London in 2002 with the BRIT Trust (of BRIT Awards fame), The BRIT School and The BRIT Studio to "discover new songwriting talent and encourage and support the craft of songwriting". It is the same contest but with US branding and USA Certificates. Think of it like America´s Got Talent - an Amercian show but with strong British roots and shared judges, winners and judging processes. The USA Songwriting Contest shares the same song categories, certificates system, winners, event format and judging systems as the UK event, but there is an emphasis on US based judges and a USA flavor and the fee is in US dollars. USA Category Winners are added as high scoring contender Finalists to the main international UK Songwriting Contest event and compete at the winners selection stage with the other UKSC Category Finalists for the overall winning position of the UKSC main event. It is therefore possible for song to be both a Winner of The USA Songwriting Contest and a Finalist in the UK Songwriitng Contest, or a Winner of both events, with just one entry. Or a WInner of the USA event and a Finalist in the UK event with one entry.
Q: Why are there different Session Deadlines? A: We have divided the entry process into different entry sessions, each with its own deadline. It does not matter which session you enter - it is all the same 2021 contest. The advantage of entering in an earlier session is that you have results earlier, get your judges Star Rating earlier, and will see if you have made it into the semi finals earlier - very soon after that session closes. You can enter songs in all sessions. You can even enter a reworked version of the same song again in a later session. We have sessions because we know it can be frustrating to wait a long time for feedback so we make sure that writers who enter songs early in the event do not have to wait a long time until the end of the contest for star ratings and other feedback. They will have this quickly after the session ends.
Q: What is the International Event option I see on the entry form? A: You can choose to include The International Songwriting Contest with your song submission. This is an easy and cost effective way to also have your song in that international event without paying its $25 entry fee.
Q: What do the different Star Ratings and Awards mean? A: All songs receive a rating of One to Five Stars. In addition all songs also receive an Award position. The highest rated songs are considered for semi finalist, finalist and winner places. The star rating and award levels provide useful feedback as you can compare your song´s rating and award with other song entries. A detailed description of the awards levels and rating is provided to all entrants at the end of the contest. Three stars is regarded as a good average score and indicates that the songwriters have ability and skill and the song is of a competent standard. A score of Four or Five Stars is a very good result and shows a strong understanding of songwriting, and an above average level of ability and skill. All Five Star songs are considered for the semi finals, which can lead to finalist and winner places.
Q: Why did some songs I entered all receive the same rating? A: It can sometimes happen that several songs from the same writer might receive the same star rating. We understand that this can be frustrating, especially if you feel that some are better than others. In the past we used a ten point score system which allowed for a ten point variation in scores, but the current Star Rating system is limited to five very clear and easy to understand levels. Imagine that several entries all received four stars: This means that they were all considered by the judges to be well above average, and better than 3 Star entries. But the judges did not rate them at the very highest 5 star level, the level where songs are considered for the semi finals. This is very useful information, and it gives a very clear indication of where those songs are positioned. We understand that it can be frustrating to have a number of songs marked at the same level, especially as the judges would agree with you that some are slightly better than others, but with the the star system they can all fall within the same 4 star range and it is not possible to show small variations between songs using this system. In this example those small variations were not enough to make a serious big difference. You can be sure that if the variation between your songs is big enough to make a real difference at a professional level they will certainly receive different Star Ratings.
Q: Does someone really listen to my track or read my Lyrics entry? A:Absolutely. Of course. Yes! Every entry, at every stage of judging, from preliminary to finals, is examined by experienced songwriters and musicians with extensive music production and music industry knowledge. Unlike other big contests we never, and we mean NEVER, uses general office staff, friends or students to screen songs. At the finals stages songs are often "deconstructed" and examined very closely and in detail and sometimes played by our judges and producers on keyboards and guitars to hear them as a composition without any production. The judges involved at the finals stage in particular categories can vary each year but will always include a number of the judges listed on this website. Lyrics Only entries are examined very carefully to see how they would work with different types of melody, structure, musical approaches and genres.
Q: Where is my Dashboard to track and check my entries? A: You can see all your entries with full details in your personal Submissions Dashboard.
Q: I cannot access the results and certificates. I get logged out. A: If your device is logging you out when you go to the results page try changing your settings to remember you and keep you logged in.
Q: What are the USA SC Awards and Certificates? A: The award levels range from Participant to Winner. Everyone who enters receives a Certificate. The entries that do not make it to the Semi Finals stage will receive a Participant,Songwriter, Commended Entry, Higher Commended Entry or Special Mention Award Certificate. Those top songs that get to the Semi Finals will receive a Semi Finalist Award Certificate. Those that progess even further and are selected for the Finals will receive a Finalist Award Certificate. All category winners will receive a Winner Certificate. USA Category Winners are added as Finalists to the main international UK Songwriting Contest event and compete with the UK Category Finalists for the overall winning position of the UKSC. It is therefore possible for song to be both a Winner of The USA Songwriting Contest and a Finalist in the UK Songwriitng Contest, or a Winner of both events with just one entry.
Q: I see there are videos of winning songs. Do I need to submit a video? A:No. All recorded songs are judged on audio only. Most tracks in the event are submitted on MP3 and not as a video. The UKSC makes videos of winning songs to promote them on our channel, but we will also use a video supplied by the writers if one is available when we announce results. When entrants make a video themselves after winning to replace our announcement video we will usually use this. Also, some of the videos you see were made as cover versions or new releases after the song won, and you may often see these cover videos of winning songs online.
Q: Do I get a song critique for my entry? A:Every song is given a judges´ Star Rating. In addition, a position level is also awarded for every song by the panels, and a personal Award Certificate is also issued for every song. No other contest in the world that provides such detailed and transparent levels of feedback for every single song entered. But we do not provide detailed individual critiques or analyses of each song. This would be impossible with our low entry fee. We may provide this as a separate extra add-on service in the future if many people ask for this, but to do this well would be expensive and would require a separate additional fee.
Q: I do not live in the USA - can I enter the USA Songwriting Contest? A: Yes. This is an international event open to all songwriters regardless of nationality and country of residence. Everyone has the opportunity to showcase work to the music industry with this event. The event is popular throughout the world and receives entries from every continent. If you do not live in the USA this is a unique opportunity to showcase your songs to the music industry in a music capital of the world. Both the UK and USA editions share the same categories, judges and format and strong British roots, but the USA edition has more emphasis on US judges, payment is in US dollars, and Certifcates are issued with the USA logo and branding. USA Category Winners are added as Finalists to the main international UK Songwriting Contest event and compete with the UK Category Finalists for the overall winning position of the UKSC. It is therefore possible for song to be both a Winner of The USA Songwriting Contest and a Finalist in the UK Songwriitng Contest, or a Winner of both events with just one entry.
Q: I can't sing. Can I get other people to sing and play my song? A: Yes. This is very common. Many entrants use other singers and musicians to perform their song - especially if they are not confident about their own voice or playing abilities. The only category where you must sing your own song yourself is the singer/songwriter category. Vocals are not judged in all other categories. Of course, if you do sing yourself on your entry it is important to be able to hold the melody well enough for the judges will not hear the tune as you intended, but it is not important to have a "good" voice. If you win a production prize and do not want to sing we supply world class musicians and vocalists to perform your song for you.
Q: I am not sure what category my song fits into. A: See the Song Categories page for details and descriptions of each category. Pick the category that most suits your entry. If you think your song could equally suit more than one category you could either choose the category that most closely describes your song or enter the song in more than one category. Many people enter the same song in more than one category. Please note that it is not possible to change the category after entry so be careful with your choice.
Q: How do I pay the entry fee? A:You can use any debit or credit card or pay with PayPal. The fee will appear in your statement in your own currency at the current exchange rate.
Q: Judging: Does the quality of my recording or production make a difference? A:No. The recording quality, performance, vocals and production etc are not judged. (An exception is the Singer/Songwriter category where vocal performance, but not production, is also judged together with the songwriting as one package. Also sometimes in Electronic/Dance the production forms part of the composition and in these cases they must be included in the judging). Our judges are very experienced and they can immediately hear the difference between a good song and a good production. Some successful entries are well produced while others are very simple basic home recordings. Many winners and finalists in the contest have been only a single voice singing over a simple piano or acoustic guitar backing. Acapella entries - just a vocal line with no music backing - have also won. A Lyrics Only entry was awarded the Overall Winner of the contest in 2007. The winner of the 2012 Love Songs category "Together" is a beautiful and tender song that is so badly recorded it is difficult to hear. A good production will make your song sound better, but our judges always concentrate on the songwriting. UKSC judge Richard Niles has said that he likes to hear a basic demo with no more than a single voice and a single instrument and no effects because he can then easily imagine how he would produce it. And at the finals stage many songs are "deconstructed", taken apart and played on a piano and sung, to examine the basics of the song in its simplest form. This is a practice that was introduced into the contest by BRIT Award winning UKSC judge Simon Ellis in 2010 and we have been doing this every year since then. Often a winning song is well produced but these songs would still have won with a very basic recording. Also please note that many of the winning songs on our websites and elsewhere on the web are not the original demo entries: for example Emma Fitzsimons´ winning song Follow The Rainbow was judged on a very simple one-take live acoustic recording and not the professional produced version you can hear on our websites; the version of Sempre Vicino (Open Category winner) on our websites is by The Canadian Tenors who covered the song when it won the contest and this is not the original demo entry; the winning pop song What Love Is was re-recorded by UKSC judge and top producer Stuart Epps who liked the song and wanted to work with the writer; the Olympic Theme winning song you hear was recorded, produced and promoted internationally by top Juno Award winning producer Mel Shaw after it won the contest. The version you hear is not always the original entry. There are many more examples.
Q: My demo is simple and basic. Does it really have a chance? A: Yes! It has esactly the same chance as any professionally produced entry. We cannot stress this enough! You will see that both the 2019 and the 2020 Singer Songwriter winners for example were recorded on a simple mobile cell phone in one take with just an acoustic guitar and no effects or production (see our UKSC YouTube Channel). Very basic simple recordings are fine for this contest and we encourage this. If your song is recorded on an old tape recorder or a mobile phone in one take it will have exactly the same chance as any professional and expensive studio entry. A strong composition will be noticed immediately by the judges - regardless of the production. Listen for example to the past Love Songs winner "Together". It is so badly recorded that it is very difficult to even hear the song at all, but it won the category because it is a very well written song. There are many other examples of poorly recorded winning and finalist songs. Many entries are recorded on mobile phones. One overall winner entered a one-take simple web cam recording of her singing while strumming an acoustic guitar and she went on to work with Emmy and Grammy winning producer Kipper Eldridge in his studio as part of her UKSC prize. It may sometimes seem when listening to past winners that many winners and finalist songs are well produced but we guarantee that the judges are not paying attention to this and they are only judging the song and songwriting. If you could hear all the finalists you would know that many of them are poorly recorded. Many of the very professional and well produced songs submitted do not get five stars or reach the semi finals. Also, remember that many song entries are later played live and sung with a piano or guitar by judges during the final judging stages to hear them without the the production. It is ALWAYS the songwriting that is being judged, not the production. Read the sections elsewhere on this page about judging for more info.
Q: I cannot sing. What happens if I win a studio production prize? A: In years when a studio production prize is offered this includes world class musicians and vocalists who record a professional production of the song at a professional studio. Many writer's who enter this contest cannot sing well, or cannot sing at all, so we take care of this for you and if you win this prize and we provide vocalists. Of course you are welcome to sing on the track yourself if you wish.
Q: I have no backing track - only a vocal. What category would I submit this song in? A: You should enter this in the same category that you would enter it if it had a musical backing. For example if it is a rock song enter it in Rock. If you see it as a Pop song enter it in Pop etc. We receive many entries without backing tracks (acappella) and there have been acapella winners with no musical backing. A good voice is not necessary as or important as the judges did not judge the singing ability, they only judge the songwriting, so don't worry if your singing is not great. There have been many very successful accapella entries over the years including some winners and many finalists.
Q: I write lyrics and not music. Does my Lyrics Only entry have the same chance as audio entries? A: Yes. All Lyrics Only entries receive the same detailed judging as all other category entries and they have the same chance of winning the contest and becoming an overall winner. In 2020 the Overall Grand Prize Winner was a Lyrics entry and this has also happened in previous years and Lyrics Only category winner Susan Muranty is now a UKSC judge. We welcome and encourage Lyricists to enter this event.
Q: Can songs have more than one writer? A: Yes. If there is more than one writer all co writers should be listed on the entry form in the "Written By:" area, with each name separated by a space and a slash like this - Name One / Name Two / Name Three etc. An image search on the web will show many examples of co-writers UKSC Certificates. Co-writers' names will appear on certificates and in results exactly as listed. See the Contest Rulesfor more details about co-writers.
Q: Is there a maximum length or time limit for each song? A:No. Unlike other contests we do not impose a time limit on each song. Most songs entered are between 3 to 5 minutes long but songs may be of any length and we do not want to interfere with your creativity by setting a time limit.
Q: Do I need to add the lyrics when I enter a recording? A:No. This is optional but there is a space to add lyrics on the entry form if you wish to.
Q: Should I register copyright in my song before I enter it in the contest? A:No. This is not necessary and you can be sure that your song is completely safe with us. We even officially register your song for you if you are a category winner before we promote it to others to be extra safe. Under international law you own the copyright in your song from the moment you write it and there is no need to officially register your work. There is a good explanation of song copyright law at SongCopyright.org (this is where we, and many others in the industry, register copyrights).
Q: Can I change my song entry, or entry details, after submission? No. It is not possible to change entries after submission - as stated in the contest rules. When songs arrive they are sent to the relevant judging panels to go through various levels of judging. If a song is changed after submission all earlier judges opinions, notes and scores become invalid and useless to later judges and judging panels as they will refer to a different version of the song. Also changing songs, lyrics, recordings, titles etc after submission can cause administration and entry tracking problems that could lead to mistakes and errors in the tracking, scoring and judging of songs.
Q: Can I enter another, newer version of a song I that have already entered this year? A: Yes. You can enter a newer version of the same song in the same year, but please title it as Version 2, or V2 or even give it a completely different title so that the admin system does not get confused. And remember, if the composition itself has not changed very much between versions or you have only changed the recording quality or production etc it is very possible that you will get the same score for both versions so please be aware of this.
Q: What file types are accepted? A:We only accept MP3 audio files.
Q: What is an MP3? A:An MP3 is an audio file. MP3s are encoded to reduce their file size without sacrificing quality. A 3 minute song in MP3 format is typically around 3mb in size and has nearly the same sound quality as an uncompressed CD track which would require a 30mb file. The fact that the song is 1/10th the file size without drastic reduction in quality is what makes MP3s so popular for downloading on the internet and sending by email. It is the industry standard.
Q: How large should the MP3 file be? A:Typically, one minute of song equals about 1mb. So a 3 minute song will usually be araound 3MB. Our upload system allows files up to 12MB to give you plenty of room.
Q: Can I just use a song from one of my CDs? A: Yes. But you must first import the song from your CD into your computer (a process called "Ripping") and then convert it to MP3 format. This is very simple and you probably have everything you need on your computer so it shouldn't require the purchase of any new hardware or software.
Q: I have a video version of my song. Can I enter this? A:Yes. You can enter it as a song link, instead of uploading an MP3, in which case the video will not be judged as a visual video, and only the audio track will be judged. You can also enter this in the Music Video Category where the video itself, together with the song, will both be judged together. If you have a very strong video that you are proud of we highly recommend that you enter it in both the Music Video Categoy and also in a separate song style category. For more information see the How To Enter page.
Q: Is there a minimum age restriction? A:No, there is no minimum age restriction for writers.
Q: I write lyrics and do not compose music, can I enter my lyric? A:Yes you can. There is a "Lyrics Only" category for this. SeeSong Categories.
Q: How do I enter the Lyrics Only Category? A: There is a special entry form for lyricists and Lyrics Only entries - just cut and paste your lyrics into the Lyrics Form and submit. It is very quick and easy. Lyrics must be in the english language.
Q: I write instrumentals, can I still enter? A:Yes you can. There is an "Instrumental" category for this. See Song Categories.
Q: Is there any censorship? I am worried that my lyrics contain a swear word. A:No. There is no censorship and no restrictions on the type of language used.
Q: There is a musical or lyrical reference or sample in my entry. Can I still enter it? A:If your song contains a musical reference or an element of another musical work, or a sample from another song, or a lyric from an out-of-copyright traditional poem etc AND this is made clear to us on entry, we will accept the entry - but the unoriginal part will not be judged. Only the original part of the composition, the part that you wrote yourself, will be judged. You must not attempt to pass off another person´s work as your own work. If in doubt contact us before entry.
Q: Who are the judges? A:All judges, including the preliminary stages judges, are experienced, successful and dedicated musicians, producers and songwriters. The finalist stage judges change each year and are chosen each year from those listed on the judges page on this website. Over the years the contest has worked with judges from some of the most respected names and organisations in the international music industry such as The BRIT Trust, The BRIT School, The BRIT Studio, The Guild of International Songwriters and Composers, the BBC, Music Aid International and others as well as top producers, musical directors and music industry executives, experienced and successful songwriters, engineers, music journalists and authors. See The Judges Pagefor more details about the judges involved this year. These and other respected judges of this high standard help to select the winners.
Q: Can I enter the same song in more than one category? A: Yes you can. If you think that your song has a chance of being rated more highly, or winning or being selected as a finalist in more than one category you may also enter it in those categories. For example you might enter a song in the Pop category and also enter the lyric separately in the Lyrics Only category. You might decide to enter it in another third category, for example Love Songs or Adult Contemporary or Rock, where you feel it has a good chance of doing well. But please note that each of these different category entries will be charged a separate entry fee, and each will be treated and judged independently and separately in each category by different judges and panels and will be competing with different songs in each category.
Q: I would like to submit 6 songs for the contest. How much does it cost? A:The cost is $25 per entry. NOTE: If the same song is entered in more than one category, each different category entry is charged separately, and is treated and judged by panels as a separate song entry.
Q: I did not get a reply to my email or contact form enquiry. Why? A: We reply to every email and every contact form enquiry. If you did not see our reply it is almost always because it is in your spam/junk/bulk folder or it was blocked by your email account provider or you made a mistake typing your email address on the contact form - our reply cannot be delivered to you if you gave us an incorrect address.
Q: Will I still own all the rights to my song after I have entered it in the contest? A:Yes. Absolutely. You continue to own ALL the rights in your song. Entering the contest has no effect on your copyright ownership.
Q: Can I enter a song that is already in another contest? Or already published? A:Yes. You can enter your song if it has already been entered in this contest or in a different contest or has been published.
Q: When do I get my SongU prize? A:Everyone who enters will be emailed with special links and codes to claim the SongU songwriting courses and membership after the close of the contest using the contact email address supplied on the entry form. The SongU.com prize will not be available if you are already a current SongU member at that time. IMPORTANT: At that time check your spam folder in case emails go there. You must notify us as soon as possible if you do not see this email after the contest closes as there is usually a deadline for claiming these prizes. You cab also see updates regarding prizes in your personal Submissions Dashboard.
Q: I did not receive a prizes email or results announcement email. Why? A: We have no control over emails after they are sent. These emails may have been blocked, or sent to a spam folder and have now been automatically deleted, or your account was over briefly over its limit and our email was rejected, or you have a spam filter system in place that requires a response from the sender (we do not respond to these requests), or they were missed by you and deleted by accident. There are many reasons why people sometimes do not see or receive emails. Please ensure that your email accounts are set to accept mail from us. If you are sure that there is an error please email us or use the contact form and we will look into this. To make sure you don't miss anything we strongly recommend that you Like and follow us at Facebook or join our Community Group there and set to "Get Notifications" , and follow us on Twitter and Instagram and regularly check the website for updates.
Q: Where is my entry confirmation email? A: Confirmation emails are always sent, but sometimes they can take a while to arrive. Please wait before you contact us and always check the bulk/spam folder and also make sure your email account is not over its limit. The most common reason that people do not see a confirmation email is that the email was marked as spam by the entrant's email account. The second most common reason is that the entrant made a mistake typing their email address on the entry form - always make sure you have typed your email address correctly before submitting and that you check the correct email account. The easiest and quickest way to check if your entry is confirmed is to look in your personal song Submissions Dashboard. This is updated immediately your song entry is officially confirmed.
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