You’ve finally written a song and you know it’s good. So why not enter a songwriting competition and see how you stack up against other songwriters? Don’t worry it isn’t as hard as you might think, and as long as you follow these guides, you should do just fine. I know how difficult it is for someone joining for the first time, but there’s really nothing to it.
Write a Catchy Hook
A catchy hook or chorus is essential; judges of songwriting competitions listen to thousands of songs so make yours stand out with a memorable hook or chorus. Even if they don’t remember anything else about your song, the hook will remain in their heads and increase your chances of winning.
Good Verses are Essential
But I have to say that it takes more than a good hook to elevate a good song into a great one. It must have memorable melodic verses. Rather than just wait for the hook, good verses will make people want to listen to the entire song. Conversely, flat verses might turn people off and make them not wait for the hook anymore. I know some songs like these, and they are not a good listen.
How to Write Songs for Competitions
Here are other tips that I want to share with you:
• Make the intro short or do away with it altogether. This is necessary if you want to write commercial and radio friendly songs, as listeners want to get to the “meat” of it. Of course if the song isn’t commercial, then you can write a long intro for it.
• Get to the hook as quickly as possible. Don’t force it, but you don’t want to keep people waiting for the hook. This is especially true for country and rap songs, where the hook or chorus come up very quickly.
• You should also tell a story or a topic that will captivate them. You can tell a personal story, or narrate a fictitious one, or you can use metaphors for the song. It really doesn’t matter as long as the story has a beginning and conclusion.
Come Up with Unique Ideas
Think about songs like “Stan” by Eminem, or “Thriller” by Michael Jackson and “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin. Each is unique and with distinct themes and ideas. If possible, avoid overusing phrases like “I love you”, “you break my heart”, “baby don’t go” etc. if you keep using those lyrics it will show your lack of originality and may give the impression that you can’t write anything new.
Aside from a unique idea, you should have a good chord progression, one that listeners can easily remember. And don’t hesitate to shift gears with the melodic lines so that it stands out before the hook or chorus pops up.
Top 5 Tips for Winning in a Songwriting Competition
1. Follow the rules – This might seem obvious but I know some who don’t follow the rules and insist doing things their own way. If you’re going to join a competition, follow the rules.
2. Don’t play safe – Don’t stick with the same formula. The reason you’re joining a competition is to see what sets you apart from others, so don’t copy their style and be bold and inventive within the rules.
3. Don’t give up – If you don’t win in the competition, that doesn’t mean you or your entry wasn’t any good. All you need to do is look at those TV singing shows to see that the most successful ones aren’t necessarily the winners.
4. Learn from the experience – Songwriting competitions present you with an opportunity to hone your craft. It forces you to step out of your comfort zone and overcome whatever shyness you feel about showing off your work. If you want to become a successful songwriter, you must learn to feel comfortable about letting others listen to your work.
5. Look at the Big Picture – While songwriting competitions are important, it’s not the end all and be all. Win or lose, joining is a valuable experience but it’s just one step in your quest to be a professional songwriter. One day you will look back and realize how much those competitions helped you, so think long term.
Remember that songwriting competitions are judged by listeners, and these are the people who will buy your creations. Don’t take criticism of your work too hard, and use that to write better and more powerful songs.