THE DIRECTOR'S PAGE

From time to time, this page will feature an article from Jimi on various topics, usually about the Network, but sometimes we may just let him ramble a bit! Take the time to read this, enjoy, comment, etc. - Thomas, webmaster

Song Contests

You'll be seeing something new on our site I would not have considered just a few years ago when Linda handed the reins over.

Many of you know that 'till very recently, I've always said song contests are a waste of time & effort.& sadly, for about 99 percent of the contests I've seen, that still holds true.However, there are a few that are legitimate & cool, so we're gonna start adding 'em on as links here on our site.BUT.Here are a few things you must keep in mind BEFORE you enter any contest.You'll see the ones we link to hold up under these criteria.1.        Longevity If a contest has been around for 5 years or more, odds are its at least legitimate. In this day & age of cyberflaming, if ANYTHING bothers someone enough, there will be a website SLAMMING the issues at the top of your Google search. Nobody's perfect. But if something is enough of a scam, it will show up quick, & the perps will go down. 2.         SponsorshipReputable people hang together. IF a contest has sponsors like Bubba's Bail Bonds or Bongz R us, don't EVEN think twice. It's important to see who the COMPLETE sponsor list is, because some of the less reputable contests are just phishing for spam targets. 3.  Prizes/awards   A hundred bux cash is nice, but compromising your email address, signing away your rights (more next paragraph) & jumpin' thru hoops to GET your prize may not be worth it. Investigate the WHOLE contest before sending money. Sometimes what you win isn't financial, but could help your career. A good friend won the opportunity to write a song with two legendary songwriters. & though the song didn't go anywhere, that connection is nice for a resume, & she can call 'em anytime as a peer & a friend.4 .       Rights Yup. I've seen the words "IN PERPETUITY" on entry forms that looked like legit contests with big money behind 'em. One that comes to mind that you can search is American Idol Underground. Remember they have great lawyers on their side that will draw up contracts favoring their clients. It's not illegal or unethical; it's part of the business. It's YOUR job to read the fine print before entering.You have to decide on the value of what you do. Personally, I know I can write a better song tomorrow if today's song opens the door. So if I lose one but suddenly have placement for the next hundred, it's fine by me. But if you only write a song a year, the deal better be good.5. CostIf it's expensive to submit, there's a HUGE red flag. Remember people love to dream, & there are sharks out there who would love to take advantage of that. Watch for hidden fees too. For example, one contest says that if you win, you can record your song @ (x) studio (it costs YOU) & your song will be distributed to record companies & radio stations (YOU pay for pressing & postage)  Be sure you read between the lines for EVERY word that may be missing. A legit contest will always have an FAQ section & contact info.6.        Duration of contractBe sure all rights, information, & everything are done when they're done. One songwriting contest still uses a winner's song on their site THREE YEARS after the contest is over. Maybe it's good for promotion, but personally, I'd like to let people know I've moved on, especially if what I won isn't helping my career at this point in time, ya know?Other things to consider:The best song may not win. The judging criteria is never perfect. Some contests allow a song to be "moved sideways" if it just doesn't work where it was placed, but works better someplace else. Other times, a sponsor may have an unspoken interest (does that artist drink Red Bull? Play a Gibson? Drive a Ford?) Ironically, you never know. Another friend wrote a song slamming MTV, & MTV itself has contacted him about using the song! DUH!Some judges are deafRemember some contests are judged by non-music people, & they may hear a killer arrangement of a lame song & vote for THAT. A good reason to submit the best possible recording you can even if it's not required, unless single voice-instrument is SPECIFIED.It's not about YOUOkay, maybe a little. Sometimes. But you need to separate yourself from your work. You are still a valuable & treasured person even if your song is in the shredder. Some of my most requested songs when I play live will never win contests or placement because they only make sense when performed by an aging-out-of-shape-guy named Jimi Yamagishi. Even if I sell a thousand downloads, a contest is looking for MILLIONS to happen.  I'm usually welcomed at any open mic, & people buy my CDs, so don't cry for me Art & Tina. My music & I are fine, thank you.Consider the alternativesIf you've ever been to a first Wednesday of the month meeting, you've met at LEAST one person who can help get your music in a good place. A place where money comes to YOU instead of the other way 'round.In fact. Some even have free pitch/tip sheets they distribute to those they know can deliver. Consider it like a contest that is free to enter, & your prize is a career in music. & that's better than a few bux & all the Red Bull you can drink IMHO.

There's always more to say, more research to do. But this is a start. & now you know there are at least a few contests we've checked out for you, however, there are no guarantees. Any contest or competition is always a game of chance, so if you like to gamble, Ante Up!

 

- Jimi