What is ISC?
The International Songwriting Competition (ISC) is an annual songwriting and music contest whose mission is to provide the opportunity for both aspiring and established songwriters to have their songs heard in a professional, international arena. ISC is designed to nurture the musical talent of songwriters on all levels, and promote excellence in the art of songwriting. Amateur and professional songwriters, musicians, bands, and solo performers are invited to participate. It doesn't matter whether you perform or write songs for a living or do it as a hobby – ISC is open to everyone. ISC has the most prestigious panel of judges of all the songwriting contests and music contests in the world, offering exposure and the opportunity to have your songs heard by the most influential decision-makers in the music industry.
When is the deadline to enter ISC?
The Early Bird deadline to enter is June 10, 2016. The Regular deadline to enter is September 9, 2016.
Does my song have to be an original song?
Yes, ISC only accepts original songs. So, songs that were written by someone else or a long time ago (in public domain) may not be considered original, even if they are rearranged. We do, however, accept songs that include some sampling of other songs (if used as background or filler) and parodies of songs (in the Comedy/Novelty category). Please do not send public domain songs that you have written lyrics to or rearranged (unless it's in the Comedy/Novelty category).
Can I enter my song(s) from a country other than the USA?
Yes, ISC accepts and welcomes entries from all over the world. ISC is one of the largest songwriting and music contests in the world and receives entries from over 100 countries.
What are my chances of winning if I live outside the USA?
ISC has the most international winners of any major songwriting or music contest. Approximately 50% of our winners are from outside the US.
Are there any age requirements to enter?
Anyone of any age can enter ISC, except the Teen category which requires the entrant to be 18 years old or younger on or before December 31, 2016.
How many songs can I enter?
There is no limit to the number of songs you may enter into the songwriting contest.
How many categories can I enter my song(s) into?
You may enter as many songs as you want in different categories, or you may even enter as many songs as you want in the same category.
Am I allowed to enter if I'm a past winner?
Yes, ISC welcomes your entry.
What if my song does not fit exactly into a category?
Enter it into the category that it fits best in. A great song will stand out and be recognized even if it does not fit exactly into a specific category. The categories are a guide, not a rule. Please do not email us and ask us to pick a category for you. You know your songs better than we do, and it needs to be your decision.
Can I have another vocalist sing the song I wrote?
Yes, any vocalist can sing the song; it doesn't need to be the song author. Also, you may use any musicians you wish.
What does AAA signify?
AAA stands for Triple A (Adult Album Alternative), which is a radio format. AAA playlists are much broader than the limited playlists of hit radio, and therefore depend on album tracks as well as on music released as singles. Stylistically, such stations may play rock, folk-rock, country-rock, modern rock, singer/songwriter, and blues music. Examples of artists in the AAA category include: Jewel, John Mayer, Fleetwood Mac, Jason Mraz, Ben Harper, Beck, The Jayhawks, Pete Yorn, Tori Amos, Coldplay, Train, etc.
What is Americana music?
Americana music is best described as progressive, roots country music, which offers an alternative to mainstream country. Examples of Americana artists include Gillian Welch, Joe Ely, Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, John Hiatt, Ryan Adams, etc.
What is the Performance category?
This category is judged not only on songwriting but also on the overall performance and delivery of the song. This makes ISC a music competition as well as a songwriting competition! The criteria include vocal delivery (unless it is an instrumental and has no vocals), instrumentation, melody, arrangement, lyrics, creativity, and overall likeability. This category will be judged on the total package – the overall quality of the song and the performance of it. All genres of music are accepted for this category.
What is the Unsigned Only category?
If you enter a song into the Unsigned Only category, you must also enter the same song into at least one other category. Please note that there is an additional fee for the second category (it is considered to be two entries). This category is open to anyone who is not signed to a major label record company (Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, EMI, or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, or imprints. Additionally, entrants may not have a distribution deal with any of the aforementioned. Entrants who are on independent labels or release their own material without a label (or have never released any material) are eligible to enter this category. Entrants may enter songs of any genre into this category. As with all ISC categories, Unsigned Only entries are eligible for the Grand Prize. Entrants are also eligible to enter all other categories. The main difference between this category and all the others is that all other categories are open to signed and unsigned artists whereas the Unsigned Only category is open to unsigned artists only.
Does ISC accept Spoken Word songs?
Yes, ...since ISC does not have a specific category for Spoken word, it is recommended to enter Spoken Word songs into the Performance category.
What are the rules for entering a music video?
All videos must be original songs and cannot exceed more than 10 minutes in length. ISC accepts DVDs, but not the PAL format. You can mail your video, along with an entry form, or you can upload them by entering online. Instead of mailing a DVD, you can give us a link to your video, and we'll watch it online. Whether it's YouTube, Vimeo, your website, or some other website - we'll go to the site and view it. All you have to do is write down the website link on the entry form. This makes it very easy.
What kind of jazz songs does ISC accept?
ISC accepts both instrumental jazz and jazz with vocals – everything from traditional jazz to avant-garde, standards to smooth jazz, swing, and more.
Do you accept parodies in the Comedy/Novelty category?
Yes, we do (but make them funny!)...
Do you accept stand-up comedy routines (without songs or music)?
Is there a maximum time length to an entered song?
No, you may enter songs of any time length.
How much does it cost to enter?
The Early Bird entry fee is $25 per song or category. For example, if you enter one song in one category the fee is $25. If you enter one song in two categories, the fee is $50. If you enter two songs in one category the fee is $50. If you enter one song in three categories, the fee is $75. As you can see, each time you add a song or category, you will have to add $25.
Will ISC notify entrants that their entry has been received?
ISC sends out an email to all entrants notifying them that their entry has been received. However, as you know, email is not always 100% reliable, and sometimes is not received. This can happen for a variety of reasons: the email might be filtered out by a spam program (so check your junk mailbox), your server might be down, etc., etc. If your email address changes, please be sure to notify us, as email is the primary method ISC uses to communicate with entrants. If you do not receive any notification from ISC within a few weeks of sending out your entry, feel free to contact the ISC office at 615.251.4441 to verify receipt.
How and when will winners be notified?
All entrants will receive notification of the semi-finalists, finalists, and winners via email. Winners will be emailed and/or phoned. Please do not call the ISC office to inquire about winners as it will slow down the process. If you do not receive an email, please check the website for updated information. 2015 Semi-finalists and Finalists will be announced in February-March of 2016, and winners in April of 2016. 2016 Semi-finalists and Finalists will be announced in February-March, 2017 and winners in April, 2017.
Does ISC give feedback?
ISC does not give feedback or a critique to entrants. Please do not ask for this service.
Does ISC notify entrants about the status of their entry during the process?
ISC will not be notifying any artists as to the judging status of their entry. In the past, ISC notified entrants if they made it to the next round. Unfortunately, due to confusion caused by this process, ISC no longer will be doing this.
What are the requirements for eligibility for the Teen category?
The only requirement is that all entrants in the Teen category must be 18 yrs. old or younger by December 31, 2016. If there are multiple songwriters, they must all adhere to this age requirement. Entrants may be from any country. Please be sure to have your parent or guardian sign the entry form and also put your date of birth(s) on the entry form! Please note that in order to attend Berklee College of Music's 5-Week Summer Performance Program (one of the prizes for the First Place winner of the Teen category), the winner must be at least 14 years old when attending.
What kind of music can I enter into the Teen category?
You may enter any kind of music (for example: rock, pop, folk, blues, jazz, country, instrumental, etc). You do not need to specify the genre of music on your application.
If I entered last year, can I enter again this year?
Yes, and you can enter either the same song(s) or new songs. Since we have many new judges this year, it will be "new ears" listening to your entries. We have had numerous instances where entrants have entered the same song from year to year with different outcomes.
Am I allowed to enter songs that have been entered into other songwriting competitions?
Yes, we welcome all songs, even if they have been entered (whether they won or not) into other songwriting competitions.
Do you have any specific instructions for a mail-in entry?
Please put all your songs on one CD. It is more affordable for you and easier for us. Please make sure the names of the songs are clearly marked on the CD. If you are sending a CDR, please put a piece of masking tape on the spine of the case and write your name in black magic marker. Use a regular-sized case, not an ultra-thin one. Use the same procedure if you are sending in a video. Also, please make sure that the entrant's name is clearly marked directly on the CD, CDR, or video. Finally, it will help us if you insert a track listing into the CD case.
Do I have to enter recorded music or can I just enter sheet music?
It is necessary to enter recorded music except for the Lyrics Only category which is judged solely on the lyrics, no music. The Lyrics Only category is one of ISC's most popular category, making ISC one of the most prominant lyric songwriting contests in the world.
How do I enter lyrics only?
Please send in two copies of the lyrics typed or neatly written. They do not need to be accompanied by music, but if you prefer, you may also send in the song on CD. Do not include sheet music, chords, or any other kind of musical notation - only the lyrics. If the lyrics are in a language other than English, please include the English translation, if available. You do not need to specify the kind of music the lyrics are written for, but if you want to, that's fine with us. It will not affect the judging process in any way.
Does ISC own my song once I have entered it?
No, absolutely not. The entrant retains ALL rights to the songs, and ISC does NOT own the song or any rights to it.
May I enter a song that I wrote if the rights to it are owned by a publishing company?
Yes, you may enter all categories except for the Unpublished category which requires that the songwriter(s) own their own publishing rights.
May I enter a song that has been released before on a CD?
Yes, of course, as long as you own the rights to the song, or can get permission from the copyright owner.
May I shop a song to a record label or publishing company that has been entered into ISC?
Yes, of course. Since ISC has no ownership in any song entered, you may continue to do business as usual with any song entered into ISC. In fact, we encourage you to be proactive and do whatever you can to gain success with your songs.
If I am entering from outside the US, what type of payment do you accept?
We cannot accept personal check if your bank is from outside the USA. However, we do accept bank checks, international money orders, credit cards, or PayPal if you enter online. Please do not send us personal checks with the word "US Funds" written in next to the amount. If you want to make a bank transfer or send funds with Western Union, please email email@example.com for more information.
If I am Canadian, can I send in a personal check and just write in "US Funds" on the check?
We cannot accept personal checks with the words "US Funds" written in next to the amount. We only accept bank checks, international money orders, a credit card, or PayPal if you enter online.
How can I enter online?
ISC offers several platforms for you to enter online. You can upload your song or video and save on postage fees. It's very easy. Just go to our Enter Your Songs Now page and click the Online button.
What is the People's Voice?
The People's Voice is an additional way to win prizes and recognition. It is completely separate from the regular winners that are selected by ISC judges. Once ISC announces the finalists, their songs are put up on the website for a month, and the public is invited to vote for their favorite song. The finalist who receives the most votes wins a lot of great prizes, recognition, and kudos!
Do the judges listen to all the entries, or is there a screening process?
There is a screening committee that listens to all entries and selects the group of finalists which are then sent to the judges. The judges then select the winners from this group of finalists. The screening committee is comprised of ISC staff who are all qualified music business professionals with extensive experience in songwriting and music. ISC does not utilize any outside screeners. The screening process is carefully and respectfully implemented with the goal of selecting the best songs to send on to the judges.
How long has ISC been in existence?
This is the 15th year for ISC. The founder of ISC, Candace Avery, has been in the music business for over 25 years and has founded other high-profile, annual events that foster and encourage new talent: NEMO Music Festival, the Boston Music Awards, Fall Fest in Boston, and others. She is also the co-founder of Unsigned Only Music Competition.
What is the difference between the online entry platforms for ISC?
All online entry platforms charge the exact same fee to enter ISC. All platforms accept credit cards and PayPal for payment. No matter which platform you enter, your songs are given the same amount of consideration in the competition. Sonicbids offers a free trial membership when you enter ISC. Of course, ISC also has its own online platform, and you are welcome to enter directly through ISC. No matter which platform you use to enter, we are looking forward to hearing your songs!