Lyric Contest FAQ

How much does it cost to enter the Lyric Contest?

15 dollars per song.

Who is eligible to enter?

The contest is open to any amateur songwriter. American Songwriter defines an amateur as one who has not earned more than $5,000 from songwriting related royalties, advances, or works for hire. While we cannot insure that every entrant follows these rules, we do everything possible to make sure those honored are indeed amateurs.

How many entries do you receive?

We average 1,000 entries per contest.

How is the contest judged?

The American Songwriter staff judges the first round and the second round is judged by a panel of music industry professionals, including executives from record companies, publishing companies, and PROs. The Top 4 winners and 10 Honorable Mentions are determined by a point system based on the judges’ selections. The judges do not see the names of the entrants. See the list of 2015 judges here.

How often do you rotate judges?

A new group of judges is selected each year.

Why lyrics only?

Since its inception in 1984, the American Songwriter Lyric Contest has always been a “lyrics only” contest. The contest gives both performing and non-performing songwriters the chance to show off their lyric-writing chops. It’s not about how well you sing or play or how good your demo sounds, but how well you write.

If I enter my song, do I retain the copyright to it?

Yes, you retain all rights to the song.

Can I enter more than one song for each contest?

Yes, you may submit multiple entries.

If I win one contest, can I win again?

Yes, winning a contest does not disqualify you from winning another one.

Does the lyric contest favor certain genres?

Each lyric is evaluated based on its own merits. A song written in “pop-country” form would likely be judged differently than a “blues song,” but one genre does not hold more sway than another.

How does a judge determine whether one song is better than the other?

All art criticism is subjective, of course. But judges use their experience and knowledge and make their selections based on that.


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Amy Stroup