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#1134559 - 01/06/18 07:08 PM Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter?  
Joined: Oct 2014
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Bill Lord Offline
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Bill Lord  Offline
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Urbana, MD
I run a nonprofit called The Global Z Recording Project. We hosted our first songwriting contest and the response was, well, dismal.

http://www.globalzrecording.org/phase-1-maryland/

To be fair, we had a very targeted audience. We promoted an Americana genre songwriting contest in mid-November to K-12 and college/university students across the state of Maryland by sending out almost 1000 emails to Maryland-based music organizations, media, educators, professors, etc, plus we posted promo blips on our website and social media. So I am hoping I can get input from the wonderful JPF members to get your thoughts on what motivates you to submit your songs to a songwriting contest. Does prize money really matter?

Devising a successful formula for hosting songwriting contests is crucial to our operational model, so your thoughts are highly valued and appreciated.

Bill Lord
Founder & Executive Director
The Global Z Recording Project

#1134573 - 01/06/18 08:52 PM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Bill Lord]  
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Sue Rarick Offline
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Sue Rarick  Offline
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Oak Grove, KY
Many College students in Maryland get free schooling? Money matters.




#1134575 - 01/06/18 08:57 PM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Bill Lord]  
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Iggy Offline
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Iggy  Offline
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Good Day Dr. Lord,

“Does the Money Matter”? Well yes and no. The winner has to get something that will ether advance his or her musical career or their pocketbook. Both are best. I went to your website and read the various downloads. I can see why you have had “dismal” results.

1. Targeting songwriters who write “Americana” is your first problem. Especially when your audience is only K-12 and college. Very small market, if any.
2. No incentive. You offer a single song contract and a recording of their song. The recording process is “virtual” meaning it’s all done, remotely, over the inter net. No time in a studio, no time really working with musicians. Any young person with any type of musical ability can probably already do that.
3. You ask for a ten-dollar donation for each song. How is that money being used? Certainly not in prizes.
4. There is no connection to the music industry.
5. You have very few sponsors, which is a red flag.

I took time to respond only because I went to your site and I believe you have some good intentions and not trying to scam or take advantage of young people and their dreams.

#1134576 - 01/06/18 09:10 PM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Bill Lord]  
Joined: Feb 2005
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Dave Rice Offline
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Dave Rice  Offline
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Texas
Hi Bill:

Before I delve into your inquiry... it would be helpful if you tell us more about "Global Z Recording Project" and it's objectives. I see by your post, the contest is limited only to Maryland students from K-12 and to University/College students. Songwriting contests across the country are often widely different but most are actually seeking Singer/Songwriters and not Lyricists or Songwriters who do not perform. To me, this waters down the public perception of what a songwriter really happens to be. Pity the poor lyricists at the bottom rung of the ladder. Seldom receiving recognition for creating the words... when married to a melody (by someone else in most cases) becomes a song. A songwriter does both, lyrics and melody but does not always perform. Those gifted enough to possess all three of these commodities are usually true performers... and, in reality, what most contests are seeking.

Tell us about the genre range desired in this contest. Some look for only a specific genre to make the judging easier... while others do not impose genre limitations.

As you probably know, the Songwriting Market is flooded now with more than 50,000 individuals (we are told) of all stripes. Making a living in songwriting is exceptionally difficult these days... so I hope your contest stresses this to it's participants and their audience.

Looking forward to hearing more from you.

Best regards, ----Dave Rice (Non-performing Songwriter)*

P.S. - Let me clarify that I sing my own work but never perform. If asked to sing in public, you might need to call an Ambulance for me before the downbeat.

Last edited by Dave Rice; 01/06/18 09:12 PM. Reason: clarification
#1134578 - 01/06/18 09:24 PM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Sue Rarick]  
Joined: Oct 2014
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Bill Lord Offline
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Bill Lord  Offline
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Hi Sue. I certainly understand college students are often money-poor. The problem is relatively new nonprofits such as ours struggle for operational funds. So, the question becomes, would songwriters submit to contests if there was something being offered in lieu of money. The hope we had was if we received enough submissions and donations, we could offer some kind of either music-related or monetary gift as an award. The bigger hope was that young songwriters might be attracted to if they would receive bragging rights, plus a demo out of the deal. I know this may be wishful thinking, but that is why I am posting this question - to see if anyone has any additional ideas that might help us be more successful in the future.

Thanks for the post.
Bill

#1134579 - 01/06/18 09:41 PM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Iggy]  
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Bill Lord Offline
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Bill Lord  Offline
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Urbana, MD
Hi Iggy.

Per your comments...

1. The way our concept is structured, for each project, we choose a new musical genre. This was our Proof of Concept Project, and our demographic analysis indicated Americana would be a solid choice. I hear what you are saying in that the market seems to be too small - lesson learned and I had that concern going into the project. Upon reflection, I think we needed to open this up nationally, but with proof of concept, we were trying to keep the numbers small. We succeeded, but they were TOO small!
2. We are set up to record virtually intentionally. Eventually, this model will go global, so young musicians and songwriters from around the world and from varying cultures/backgrounds can work together on these projects. Hence the name The Global Z Recording Project.
3. The money would be used in several ways. It could generate funds with which we could give prizes. It could also help us to keep our doors open. We are completely volunteer at this point, and any funds generated go into paying operational costs.
4. Connection to the music industry - we are working on this. The challenge is well-known names and companies want to see results before they get behind you. Show success and you attract successful backing. It is a catch-22. That is one of the crucial reasons it is very important we are able to successfully get this project in the bag.
5. See number 4 - if we can prove our model works, we have several key people/companies waiting to get involved.

Indeed, our intentions are good. We are a 501(c)(3) registered in the State of Maryland, and have a lot of wonderful people and organizations behind us - many academicians. Your comments go a long way with helping us evaluate what we need to do to be more successful in the future.

With appreciation,
Bill

#1134580 - 01/06/18 09:57 PM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Dave Rice]  
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Bill Lord Offline
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Bill Lord  Offline
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Dave, many thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts.

Our tagline is, 'We give peace a chance through music.' We are designed to seek out talented, culturally diverse, young musicians and songwriters from around the world, and bring them together to create exceptional music. Through the music production process, we (scholars) introduce participants to concepts of acceptance of diverse others, democratic processes, and peace mindedness. This is all done virtually so we can involve artists from around the world. Each artist will serve as a native cultural ambassador. Music has the beautifully magical power to bring together people of difference, so we use music to build bridges and create friendships between young musicians on a global scale.

We have very lofty ambitions as to what we want to offer longterm to assist young musicians and songwriters in being recognized, promoted, and putting money in their pockets. But, we are 3.5 years old, and slowly growing every year. This was our Proof of Concept Project, so it is very much learn by experience. After what we experienced with the songwriter submissions, we have much to learn! As a former academician, this is not disappointing. I completely know/understand that we often learn the most important lessons and make our biggest strides forward from our failures. When I have a knowledge gap, I turn to experts. Who better consult than the folks at JPF?

I hear what you are saying regarding singer/songwriter contests. My reasoning for having the songwriter be a separate individual was two pronged. First, it allows for more people from more cultures to get to know and learn from each other. Second, the experience is designed so that each participant has equal voice. If the songwriter also was a musician, that one person would have two 'says.' Does this make sense?

Thank you for your time.
Bill

#1134586 - 01/07/18 12:56 AM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Bill Lord]  
Joined: Feb 2005
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Dave Rice Offline
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Dave Rice  Offline
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Texas
Hi again, Bill:

In your conversations with Iggy and Sue, well respected members of JPF... Cash Awards versus Prizes that open doors were discussed. I believe a young talent will be more interested in advancing his/her career than a one-shot money award... if they truly believe their future lies in making music via songwriting and performing. The obvious benefit to Global Z is to have the money that would otherwise be spent on prizes (perhaps I am thinking big money and at least three awards) could be used for other purposes in getting your operation "off the ground."

Promotion of the contest will require a significant PR team and you must define and describe the qualifications of the participants to the point there is no doubt about what they will perform in order to compete and win. I assume all the songs performed will be original material written by the performers? Then, there is the need to clarify ownership/copyright, etc. of the songs performed by these creators.

After perusing your link, I believe your Organization's Name would need significant PR in explaining the Global Z meaning. Being an older American who lived through the conflicts of WWII as a child, the Korean War as a Teen, the Cold War as a College Student and then a Navy Aircrew Member working on the Pacific Distant Early Warning Line, then finally a young production engineer in a Government Munitions Facility during the Vietnam Conflict... I believe in Peace through strength. That does not diminish my belief that understanding cultures and music from faraway places or next door neighbors can ever be anything but a positive thing. Diversity sounds good but can be a "land mine" if used improperly as far a public perception is concerned. As used by many today, it smacks of "everyone gets a prize" just for showing up... and that is a sure fire way to take your project down the drain.

I read more "Academia" than Musical Accomplishment in your team description and qualifications. Your sponsors to date are not musical household names or brands. Surely there will be more, better known sponsors if "lift" is to be achieved. My points are intended to aid you in evaluating your "game plan" and the need to have an excellent communications team available to educate the public and press about your mission... and to build excitement about the contest.

Finally, "Americana" as a genre is rather broad and includes a number of sub-genres. Tread carefully if the judging is to be objective

Best wishes for success, ----Dave

#1134595 - 01/07/18 02:06 AM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Bill Lord]  
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Fdemetrio Offline
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Fdemetrio  Offline
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If money didn't matter, it wouldn't cost anything to be in it. So it matters to somebody.

I think American Idol and all those shows exhausted the whole "music as a competition" thing.

Music is not a competition. I do understand the draw for unknowns to enter, and want to win, to add it to their resume, but at the end of the day, who really cares? The only people who tune into songwriting contests are other songwriters, checking to see if they won.

There are some really strong contests out there, and sometimes the winner can make money and win guitars or other prizes. I haven't heard of many breaking into the music business because they win a songwriting contest though.

There is all kinds of music out there, if music were a competition, I don't think we would have heard of msny of our favorite groups. We'd be listening to Mozart and the real musicians and composers of the world

Last edited by Fdemetrio; 01/07/18 02:08 AM.
#1134603 - 01/07/18 08:09 AM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Bill Lord]  
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Colin Ward Offline
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Saint Petersburg. FL
I'll be the devil's advocate here...nothing personal.

Most songwriting contests are scams. Most musicians have figured that out. They charge fat fees to enter, give out one small prize and give everyone an honorable mention and a certificate suitable for framing while the promoter gets the money.

Many non-profits are scams. True, they don't show a profit, but the operators pay themselves fat salaries to insure there is no profit, and the service they provide is often sketchy at best. Frankly, the mission of your non-profit sets off my BS alarm but I only know what you said about it.

Most college students are listening to rap or horrible pop music so the number of Americana songwriters is probably very small.

And finally, what's in it for them? They probably have garage band on their computer and their college probably has a diverse group of people attending.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#1134624 - 01/07/18 02:32 PM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Dave Rice]  
Joined: Oct 2014
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Bill Lord Offline
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Bill Lord  Offline
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Urbana, MD
Hello Dave.

Per your comment, "I believe a young talent will be more interested in advancing his/her career than a one-shot money award," this was my hope going into the project. I am not naive in thinking people would not be more compelled to participate if there was the prospect of winning money. The big question is what else can a cash-strapped organization offer, and you make some fine thoughts. My hopeful speculation was once we secured a song to record, attracting musicians to record with us will be much easier than attracting a songwriter, based on sheer volume of players vs number of songwriters. We hope that by designing this as a contest of sorts, through auditions, we will be able to pick the higher caliber of musicians to record original works. As such, while I know it is not much, what we offered was the songwriter will be getting a high quality recording/demo of his/her work performed by high caliber musicians, the experience of collaborating and recording using new technologies and techniques, plus bragging rights that he/she won a contest. Eventually we will have supporting funding which will allow us to offer monetary rewards.

To your point, we are trying to provide other intangible enticements. For instance, we have a contact to a producer who has been nominated for over 50 Grammys. We are reaching out to this person to see if he will agree to serve as producer for the project. That way, we could say hey, if your song is selected, you and the musicians will be working with this respected and known industry individual who will produce your song. But, it takes time and trust to build those relationships. That is something I am constantly working on and is a constant challenge.

I hear what you are saying regarding a contest requiring a PR Team. One of the big lessons learned has been as we grow as an organization and expand nationally and eventually globally, we cannot sustain the marketing of our projects with the lean team of volunteers we currently have. So I completely agree with you on that point and the Board of Directors have already discussed the need to add a Board Member who will oversee the marketing of the organization.

Yes, all songs submitted will be original compositions with rights owned by the songwriters. In the application documents, we define how the rights of the song are distributed amongst participants. When we were based out of Colorado, we set up a relationship with the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law. We worked with two law professors who assigned a student attorney to Global Z to assist us in defining how to approach publishing and copyright agreements. While this was highly productive, the direction we are moving has taken us not only out of Colorado, but will expand our projects across national boundaries. So we hope to find a law program in MD or the DC area we can work with to provide guidance as expand. We are equally about creating educational partnerships and learning opportunities for university students and have a history of partnering with community schools.

I respect your position of 'peace through strength.' I am former 82nd Airborne. One of my personal philosophies is belief in the need for balance in all things. I do not deny the need for military or police forces. But, there are multiple ways we can achieve peace on many levels. What we seek to achieve is largely supported by scholarly research. I have plowed through the peer-reviewed literature to help ensure that our model is sound. Also, as an academician who specializes in distance education and computer-mediated communication, I have repeatedly witnessed how people of difference, from around the world, can bond while participating on a unified project. Lasting friendships have formed from these virtual experiences and resulted in people traveling across oceans to meet their newly found friends face-to-face. I do not expect everyone will embrace what we do and have experienced this already. But, different people are impacted in different ways and I am confident we will make a difference in the lives of some people. I thank you for your words of caution and perception. We are genuine and have nothing but good intentions at heart. Unfortunately, the only way to prove this is through our deeds and achievements over time.

Regarding your mention of our volunteer team being more academia than music industry, yes, that is true. The academicians who have the literature-based background understand and quickly get behind what we seek to do. We also have a history of partnering with universities and colleges. We are vetted prior to and during our partnership projects and have had excellent experiences in these partnerships.

I have been in touch with music industry people and getting big names onboard is more challenging. David Wiener has been the exception. David is an entrepreneur and owner of DWV Entertainment, the Respect the Music Foundation, and former owner of pro audio brand, Aphex. sE Electronics is the other industry name working with us. I am incredibly grateful to them for their willingness to work with us early in our building years. I have talked with a number of music industry folks and while they are really excited about what we are doing, they are - understandably - concerned with getting behind us until we can prove that their name/brand will be associated with an organization that is proven to be a positive force and has a proven track record. This is mirrored when we have gone after grant money. Foundations want to make sure they are not throwing away money on an organization that will disappear at any given time. It is the proverbial catch-22 scenario. When you are successful, it is easy to attract A-listers. The challenge is attracting them when you need them most - when the coffers are small and you need funds just to survive.

Lastly, I understand that "Americana" is a highly subjective genre. To me that is part of the appeal. When you bring together musicians from a variety of life experiences and influences, it is exciting to see what develops :-)

My whole-hearted thanks for the time and thoughts, Dave.

Bill

#1134625 - 01/07/18 02:36 PM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Fdemetrio]  
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Bill Lord Offline
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Bill Lord  Offline
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Urbana, MD
Fdemetrio, your points are all well taken. For us, the contest is just the beginning of what we seek to do to help young talent and serve as a springboard toward musical success. We have longterm plans that would help to this end, but we have to walk and build before we can run.

Very good things to reflect on, thank you.

Bill

#1134627 - 01/07/18 02:57 PM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Colin Ward]  
Joined: Oct 2014
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Bill Lord Offline
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Bill Lord  Offline
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Urbana, MD
Colin, your comments are welcome anytime. Nothing taken on a personal level, thanks.

Every organization needs to plan for Devil's Advocates! The perception that songwriting contests are scams is an interesting perspective. I was just having a conversation with one of my Board members last week, and he was discussing the concept of 'contest' and how that might actually turn people off. Interesting. We need to put some additional thought into this. I will point out, in order to participate in our contest, we requested a $10 donation. The donation was an option, not a requirement. If we could have attracted 500 excellent compositions and not generated a single dime, that would have been a major success in my book. The primary objective of our Proof of Concept Project was not to generate thousands of dollars. The objective was to test our conceptual and operational models, and point to a project that was successfully completed. As such, we are still in the middle of analyzing what we need to change and do in order to move the project forward to a successful end.

I understand that some nonprofits may be defined as scams. I do not think I would agree that 'many' are scams and would need to see what the statistics are on such a premise. There are rigid requirements in place regarding what needs to occur in order to qualify and maintain nonprofit status. I believe achieving a 501(C)(3) status is a higher level of insurance against scamming, as annual filings with the state and federal government have some solid tracking mechanisms in place that help with discerning if an organization is being unscrupulous in it's operations. Still, your point is well taken and if the perception is widely held, it adds an additional layer of uphill climbing for us to negotiate.

I am sorry to hear on first glimpse you find our mission to not be one based on ethics, well-meaning and integrity. I invite you to track our progress over the years to see how we develop and what we achieve. Your thoughts have been truly valuable.

Best wishes,
Bill

#1135055 - 01/15/18 09:20 PM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Bill Lord]  
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 611
Pat Hardy Offline
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Pat Hardy  Offline
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Posts: 611
Originally Posted by William Lord
I run a nonprofit called The Global Z Recording Project. We hosted our first songwriting contest and the response was, well, dismal.

http://www.globalzrecording.org/phase-1-maryland/

To be fair, we had a very targeted audience. We promoted an Americana genre songwriting contest in mid-November to K-12 and college/university students across the state of Maryland by sending out almost 1000 emails to Maryland-based music organizations, media, educators, professors, etc, plus we posted promo blips on our website and social media. So I am hoping I can get input from the wonderful JPF members to get your thoughts on what motivates you to submit your songs to a songwriting contest. Does prize money really matter?

Devising a successful formula for hosting songwriting contests is crucial to our operational model, so your thoughts are highly valued and appreciated.

Bill Lord
Founder & Executive Director
The Global Z Recording Project


all of the successful songwriting contests have big prizes, are nationwide, and have VIPs involved. Just an observation.

#1135061 - 01/15/18 09:43 PM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Bill Lord]  
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Fdemetrio Offline
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Fdemetrio  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2017
Posts: 1,161
Well I never trusted songwriting contests, mostly because to most people, recording and production, is what makes a song great. Yet they always say that it doesn't factor into the decision, which is laughable. I'm a singer songwriter, I'm not a record producer.

This site says the same thing. Production doesn't matter...yeah right
http://www.songoftheyear.com

What makes me even more suspicious, the email this contest sends show pictures of "famous judges". Dave Grohl, The Edge, Lenny Kravitz, and Steven Tyler.... But on the website itself, you see no mention of these famous people.

The tip of the iceberg..... They send an email every two weeks telling me that the deadline has been extended, in fact, this contest seems to always be open


Last edited by Fdemetrio; 01/15/18 09:46 PM.
#1137919 - 02/26/18 07:13 PM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Pat Hardy]  
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 42
Bill Lord Offline
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Bill Lord  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 42
Urbana, MD
Pat, I appreciate your thoughts. Yeah, when our organization has deeper pockets, we hope to offer something 'tangible' to the awardees.

Bill

#1137920 - 02/26/18 07:24 PM Re: Songwriting Contests - Does the Money Matter? [Re: Fdemetrio]  
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 42
Bill Lord Offline
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Bill Lord  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 42
Urbana, MD
Fdemetrio, these are important comments and quite relevant to our situation. We opened our first songwriting contest (looking for a better word than 'contest') and when we did not achieve the desired volume of submissions, this presented problems similar to those you mention. I did not want to go back and announce that the contest is open until closed. It is so important to our organization that we retain our credibility. So we need to conduct a deep dive analysis of what did not work and put actions into place that resolve those challenges. That is the primary reason I am seeking thoughts on this topic. In the meantime, I need to find a quality original song we can present to our young musicians to record and move our project forward. I may start a new thread and open the invitation up to all willing songwriters at JPF to work with us. It is a bit humbling to feel like we are bogged down in the mud with our tires spinning.

Bill


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