For my next blog post I figured I stick with the theme I had in my last two posts. I want to talk about songwriting competitions and my experience having participated in a national songwriting competition a few years back when I was still in a band with Chris.
Normally most bands don't think about entering songwriting competitions. They mostly enter battle of the bands and the like. Especially at first when the idea of songwriting isn?t really set in their minds. I suppose it's because not every songwriter is in a band and not every songwriter can perform their own songs. Some of the most successful songwriters are practically unheard of, yet, chances are, they are making more money that the artist who performs their work.
Which brings me back to my story. Since at the time the band had agreed to evenly share the credit of the songs we wrote (this will be another topic of conversation in the future), we entered the songwriting competition as a band. Believe it or not, even the organizers of the competition didn't know what to make of our submission. All other submissions were made either by an individual or a songwriting team of no more than two people.
The competition was held regionally and then later escalated to a national level. So as it were, we were chosen by our local radio station to represent our city and province. Included in the package was a trip to a music festival where we would sit before a panel to have our songs reviewed along with the other songwriters from each major city across Canada.
We were relatively new to all of this so none of us really knew what to expect. When we sat before the panel we were confronted by all sorts of people. Most of them were older and took themselves way more seriously then we did. We were just a bunch of 20 year old punks that wanted to play in a band. We knew nothing about song structure, composition, publishing, or anything like that. In fact, I was surprised that we even made it to the panel since it was so early in the morning and all we did the night before was drink.
I'm not going to mention names, but let's say the panelists are Jeff and Jane. Both Jeff and Jane were experienced veterans of the trade with countless awards and successes to their names. Mind you, none of us knew who they were, but they seemed to know what they were talking about.
Copies of all the finalist's lyrics were handed out and we proceeded to listen to each one's demo submission. At the end of each listening, the panelists gave their opinions and held an open discussion with the rest of us. This is where it started to get a little interesting. None of the demos were of any decent quality. They were actually pretty bad.
But that's the difference between one of these things and a battle of the bands. BOTB are based partly on your performance. With a songwriting competition the judges have to see beyond the quality of the demo and focus on the actual song and the potential it will have given the right artist to perform it and the producer to make it all come together.
It was only our song that got anyone bopping their heads and it was our song that generated the most positive comments because we managed to capture something in the recording of it. The performance was there. In the end the song didn't even place top three when we all thought, given the response, that we had nailed it in the bag.
It was, in fact, the song that sounded the worse, from a guy that looked nothing like a musician that finally won first prize and a $10,000 check.
Even though the band Chris and I were in eventually broke up, I wonder whatever became of the guy who won it all. Winning a songwriting competition is a very honoring accomplishment. Whether you're in a band or a solo artist, a large part of you wants to be known for your songwriting skills. You only have a certain time frame to be a touring rock star, but you can be a songwriter for a much longer amount of time.
Look at the lead singer from 4 Non Blondes. She kind of had a one hit wonder with "What's Going On" over a decade ago, but more recently she has written hit songs for Pink and Madonna.
And although it's sad to say, Nikki Sixx of Motely Crue fame has even written songs for the Backstreet Boys. Oh, the agony...
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