Are you a talented songwriter hoping to be discovered, get signed, and launch a successful career in songwriting?

Whether you’re a beginning songwriter or more experienced with the art of songwriting, songwriting competitions are a great way to gain exposure and recognition, not to mention the long list of cash and prizes if you win big. Additionally, many songwriting contests are judged by well-known music industry professionals who can help you advance your music careers with recording studio time or even record deals.

However, it’s important to figure out which competitions are genuine, as many websites are frauds that just collect entry fees!
These are the nine best songwriting contests you can enter right now:

1. International Songwriting Competition 2017

One of the most respected and prestigious international songwriting competitions and known for its high-profile judges, this contest was designed for both amateur and professional songwriters to have their songs heard in a professional setting. Most grand prize winners have even moved on to sign recording contracts with major labels.

Categories include Children’s Music, Comedy/Novelty, Country, EDM (Electronic Dance Music), Folk/Singer-Songwriter, Christian, Instrumental, Jazz, Latin Music, Lyrics Only, Music Video, Performance, Pop/Top 40, R&B/Hip-Hop, Rock, and much more.

Prizes: The Grand Prize winner of 2016 won $25,000 in cash as well as nine days of recording time at a professional recording studio and a much longer list of prizes. 71 winners will share in the cash and prizes.

Deadline: September 20, 2017

Entry fee: $30/entry

For more information, visit https://www.songwritingcompetition.com/

2. The John Lennon Songwriting Contest

An international songwriting contest that began in 1997, this contest is also open to both amateur and professional songwriters in 12 categories. Unlike other contests, all entry fees are allocated to support the non-profit John Lennon Educational Tour Bus mobile recording studio.

Prizes: Each year, there are 72 finalists, 24 Grand Prize winners, 12 Lennon Award Winners, and 1 “Song of the Year.” Based on achievement, winners will receive studio equipment in addition to cash prizes.

Deadline: December 15, 2017

Entry fee: $30/entry

For more information visit http://jlsc.com/index.php

3. American Songwriter Contest

With contests every two months, this is a perfect songwriting competition for anyone who is looking for a contest that accepts entries frequently. The current contest going on right now is the September/October 2017 Contest, but if you don’t have a song ready right now, at least you know you can apply for the November/December 2017 one or any after that!

This competition is open to any amateur songwriter, which American Songwriter defines as any songwriter who has not earned more than $5000 from songwriting related royalties, advances, or works for hire.

Prizes: Co-write with Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter John Paul White, a professional demo session (1 song) at Omni Sound Studios, a round-trip flight to Nashville, a PRS Angelus Alex Lifeson Guitar, and a Sennheiser E935 Microphone

Deadline: July 15, 2017

Entry fee: $15/entry

For more information, visit https://americansongwriter.com/contests/

4. Mountain Stage Newsong Contest

With the most unique prizes, including a chance to perform at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, this songwriting contest is a great example of being able to gain more than just cash and prizes. In its 15th year running, the competition showcases growing performers and songwriters across a variety of genres.

Some well-known artists who have made their national debut on the show include Norah Jones, Ryan Adams, the Barenaked Ladies, and Sheryl Crow.

Prizes: A six-song EP recorded and mixed at Echo Mountain Recording Studios and released on the NewSong Recordings label, a performance showcase at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival’s coveted Sundance ASCAP Music Café, a future performance in 2018 at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City (all finalists will also receive a Shure MOTIV microphone)

Deadline: October 15, 2017

Entry fee: $35 for 1 song, $60 for 2 songs, additional songs $20/each

For more information, visit https://www.newsong-music.com/contest/

5. Nashville Songwriting Scholarship

If you are a student with a passion for country music and looking for scholarships, don’t forget to apply to the Nashville Songwriting Scholarship. Starting in 2015, this annual competition is open to all student songwriters of country music and other genres such as folk, bluegrass, Americana, blues, contemporary Christian, and roots.

The contest is open to students between the ages of 17 and 24 (at the time of submission) who are currently enrolled at a college or university in the United States.

Prizes: $5,000 scholarship

Deadline: This year’s application has closed, but join the waitlist for next year’s program.

For more information, visit http://bmifoundation.org/programs/info/nashville_songwriting_scholarship

6. John Lennon Scholarship

Another student scholarship opportunity, the John Lennon Scholarship is an annual competition for all student songwriters of musical genres including pop, rock, alternative, R&B, electronica, and experimental. This contest is open to anyone between the ages of 17 and 24 (at the time of submission) who is currently a student or alumnus/alumna at a college or university in the United States.

Prizes: Three scholarships totaling $20,000 are awarded for the best submitted original songs.

Deadline: This year’s application has closed, but join the waitlist for next year’s program.

For more information, visit http://bmifoundation.org/programs/info/john_lennon_scholarships

7. Great American Song Contest

Already in its 19th year, the Great American Song Contest is another competition that will allow you not only to have the opportunity to win a large cash prize, but also have your song reviewed by qualified professionals. This competition was created by songwriters who understand how important it is to get their songs heard and seize those rare opportunities.

Supporting such beliefs, all entries are thoroughly reviewed by qualified music industry professionals, and all participating songwriters will receive written evaluations of their songs from contest judges.

Prizes: Grand Prize winner receives $1,000 in cash.

Deadline: November 15, 2017

Entry fee: $30/song, $25 for each additional song after the first two entries

For more information, visit http://www.greatamericansong.com/

8. SongDoor International Songwriting Competition

With the lowest entry fee among other contests, SongDoor is an annual worldwide songwriting competition open to both amateurs and professionals. One of their goals is to help you become a better songwriter, even if you aren’t the grand prize winner. All applicants receive 3 free songwriting tools just for entering. Judges include industry professionals who have worked with artists such as Justin Timberlake, The Fray, Train, Neil Young, Tony Bennett, and more.

Prizes: Grand Award Winner receives a Colorado Sound full-band demo, a satin blond Alvarez acoustic guitar, a black Alvarez gig bag for the guitar, SongU Platinum membership (1 yr.), Masterwriter 3.0 (2 yr. license), Broadjam Primo membership (1 yr.), an autographed Robin Frederick book, and SongDoor Certificate of Excellence.

Deadline: November 15, 2017

Entry fee: $10/entry

For more information, visit http://www.songdoor.com/

9. Chris Austin Songwriting Contest

This competition was created in loving memory of Chris Austin, a popular country music singer who was unfortunately killed in a tragic plane accident in 1991. Net proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest help support the Wilkes Community College Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship.

It has already helped 84 students and awarded over $34,600, offering songwriters the opportunity to have their music heard by professional songwriters from the Nashville music industry.

Prizes: First place winners receive a winning song performance on the Cabin Stage at MerleFest, $600 cash, two boxes of D’Addario strings, a one-year subscription to Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and strings and guitar straps from Kyser Musical Products.

Deadline: The contest is currently closed, but will be open again October 1, 2017-Februrary 1, 2018.

For more information, visit http://merlefest.org/chris-austin-songwriting-contest/

Katie Shum

Katie Shum

Content Writer at NY Literary Magazine
Katie is a sophomore at Cornell University studying Applied Economics and Management, but has also grown a deep love for creative writing, poetry, and prose. When she's not writing, she loves to read, eat, and sing, and you will more often than not find her sipping black coffee and cuddling with her cat, Cloudy. Some of her favorite writers include Claudia Rankine, Chuck Palahniuk, and Haruki Murakami.
Katie Shum