fIn this video veteran BBC broadcaster and UKSC judge Richard Niles interviews songwriter Johnny Schaefer and Grammy® Award winning legend Melissa Manchester. Johnny won the Original Song category, held in partnership with Music Aid FM, with his song "Can’t Hide the Light”. Melissa Manchester sings on this UK Songwriting Contest entry as a duet with Johnny, and in the interview they are joined by producer Stephan Oberhoff to talk about how the song was conceived, written and produced – with the epic sound of 55 vocal tracks!
Need a Co Writer?
Many songwriters have been there. You have a great tune, or great lyrics, maybe even a whole song with verse, chorus, bridge etc - but you just can't get the right words or music to go with it. Frustrating! Some writers find melodies very easy and can write a great tune every day - but the lyrics refuse to appear. Others love writing lyrics but they lack the music skills to turn them into great songs.
Of course, not everyone can do both. Elton John didn´t write lyrics - he only wrote melodies (as UKSC judge and Elton mate Stuart Epps will confirm). That´s why he worked with Bernie Taupin. And there are many other successful songwriting collaborations, where one person writes melodies and the other writes lyrics. The trick is to find the right collaborator.
And if you need a collaborator we have some very interesting options for you in this year´s UK Songwriting Contest. As well as the usual Lyrics Only and Melody Only categories there are two new Co-Writer categories - one for lyricists and one for composers.
PLUS there is also a chance to have a famous songwriter credited as your co writer. Yes that´s right... Coming soon is a brand new category where you co-write a new version of any famous song of your choice. You can write new lyrics to an existing famous song, or write new music to the existing lyrics, or switch things around with a new arrangement, structure, new sections etc. Just make sure you also credit the original writer/artist as your co writer. Full details will be on the website and in social media very soon.
All the other song categoris are still there: Singer-Songwriter, Love Songs, Pop, Rock, Adult Contemporary, Retro, Crisis Songs, Christmas Songs, Teen, Country, Unplugged and many more. There is something for everyone, and for every style of music.
The contest is open and the judges are waiting for your songs. Check out the website for more details. And good luck and best wishes on your songwriting journey.
The UKSC Team,
STAR RATING DEADLINE
This is a quick reminder that the first session song deadline is midnight on Monday 31 May. Monday is the last full day and if you submit before midnight, on May 31, you will see your song´s Star Rating and position in your dashboard within days. Semi Finalists will be able to follow events live to see if the song moves forward into the Finals. If you submit after Monday your song will go into the second session with results later in the year.
WHAT`S ON OFFER
Career boosting prizes this year include your own Personal PA Assistant and mastering at Abbey Road Studios, and there are unique co writing opportunities to check out. There is also an option to submit to the International Songwriting Contest at the same time. Other prizes include Songwriters Guild Memberships, songwriting courses, and everyone receives $50 worth of song pitching opportunities as a thank you gift. Find out more and submit here.
The 30 song categories this year include Love Songs, Singer-Songwriter, Crisis Songs, Melody Only, Lyrics Only, Pop, Work In Progress, Unplugged, Official Release, co-writing and collaboration categories and more. There is a category for every type and genre of song and something for everyone.
If you are receiving this by email, it is because you signed up on the website to receive emails of the UKSC blog. You can also view this post online. If you have any questions about submitting songs this year please contact us at any time using the contact form of the website or on our social media pages.
Very best wishes,
The UK Songwriting Contest Team.
Hollywood actress and singer-songwriter Bonnie Piesse joins the UKSC judging panels in 2021. Bonnie was born in Australia and was well known for her many TV roles there before working on the Star Wars films with George Lucas and moving to the USA. She made the role of Beru in Star Wars her own, in Star Wars Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith, and Disney have signed her for the new, and long anticipated, Star Wars series 'Obi-Wan Kenobi', alongside Ewan McGregor. This is now in production in 2021.
Bonnie is a highly aclaimed singer songwriter with songs placed and featured in movies and TV shows including the recent Home Box Office HBO docu-series 'The Vow' in which she was also a featured subject. She was described by Oscar nominated film director Luke Doolan as "the type of artist who’s work gets better each time you see or hear her. She has the voice of an angel and the mind of a warrior". When she is not busy at the Disney Studios acting in the new Star Wars series (or judging UK Songwriting Contest songs!!) Bonnie is working on songs for a new EP to be released in 2022.
Bonnie is a past winner of The UK Songwriting Contest, with her beautiful and enchanting song 'Ariella', so she knows the event very well and from both sides - as a contestant and as a judge. She is based in California and is a judge for both the UK and USA editions of the contest. You can discover more about Bonnie and hear her music on her website www.bonniepiesse.com
SUBMIT YOUR SONGS
The UK Songwriting Contest 2021 is now open for entries and we look forward to receiving your songs in this year´s event. Full details and entry forms are on the UKSC website at http://songwritingcontest.co.uk
The UKSC Team
THE UKSC 2021 IS NOW OPEN FOR YOUR SONGS
It´s that time again! The 2021 UK Songwriting Contest is open for entries. See the opportunities for songwriters, prizes, song categories, new judges and more on the official UKSC website at www.songwritingcontest.co.uk
This year there are even more opportunities for collaboration with other writers and artists. Check out the new collaboration categories and team up with other composers and lyricists as a co writer.
Categories in 2021 include Singer-Songwriter, Unplugged, Pop, AC, Lyrics Only, Blues, RnB, Folk, Teen, Instrumental, Country, Love Songs, Retro and many more. There is a category for everyone and every style of music. New categories this year include an Official Release category for officially distributed and monetized song releases. Check out all the categories on the UKSC website at www.songwritingcontest.co.uk.
The popular Crisis Songs categories are back this year. Do you have a song about lockdowns, quarantine, social isolation? Or maybe a song about another of the other major crises in the world that we all face today? This is the place to send it. Last year´s Crisis Lyrics Winner is now being promoted Wwidely on the web and featured in magazine articles. Check out these and other songs on the UKSC websites and social media pages.
Everyone who enters is given a special package of song pitching opportunites to promote their work, a Star Rating from our judges for each song, and an Award Certificate for each song, plus an option to also include your song in The International Songwriting Contest using the same UKSC entry form. And everyone who enters joins our exclusive private Songwriting Community Group to interact and network, collaborate and share, with other UKSC entrants. Get the full details at www.songwritingcontest.co.uk
Live winners announcements!
The UKSC is announcing the winners of the 2020 UK Songwriting Contest. Songwriters from 84 countries in 30 categories are competing this year and results are being published live now on the UKSC YouTube Channel.
A 2020 YouTube Winners Playlist is now being updated and winning songs added as results come back from the judges. You can see the winners live as they are announced on YouTube. Finalists in each category are also listed there. Subscribe to the UKSC Channel while you are there to see the latest notifications, news, updates and opportunities for songwriters.
If you video above is not working or linking to the playlist you can visit the UKSC YouTube Channel and see all the songs, plus a selection of 2020 song entries and other videos at http://songwritingcontest.tv
Your last chance to submit songs!
The International UK Songwriting Contest 2020 closes for entries at the end of this month on November 30. This is your last chance to submit songs this year. The final deadline is midnight on Monday 30th.
ARE YOU A FINALIST?
Within days of submitting your song you will know if you are in the Semi Finals. And very soon after this, during December, we will tell you if your song is in the Finals and competing for a Winner position in the 2020 event. This will be an exciting month, as Finalists are announced and winners selected. And there will be Live updates in your song dashboard.
There are many new opportunities to get involved as a songwriter this year. The new Collaboration Section offers the chance for musicians and lyricists to join up and co-write songs, you can write the melody or the lyrics, and we will match you up with a partner. The Songwriting Challenge asks you to create new lyrics or new melody for Paul McCartney´s Yesterday, the Crisis Songs Category is for topical songs about the pandemic or climate or political crises, Work In Progress is for unfinished songs. There is a new Unplugged category and many different genre categories. Something for everyone! Full details are on the contest website.
So... get your songs to us before Midnight on Monday 30 November. We look forward to receiving them. The judges are ready and waiting to select the Finalist and Winners for this year.
Very Best Wishes,
Here are our top ten songwriting tips. These are tips that professional songwriters use, and also some of our own recommendations based on our experience and on feedback from songwriters and song contest judges.
1. Study the Classics
The best way to write your own classic is to study the classics that others have already written. Choose some writers that you admire and sit down and study what they do. And ask your self these questions: What structures do they like to use? What makes the melody or lyric memorable? How did they use lyrics in the chorus and how did this relate to the verses? Analyse how they used rhyme schemes, and the order of the sections of the song. How long is the intro? Is there a hook and where does the hook appear? How is it repeated and how does it relate to the song´s subject matter and the song´s title? Read and listen to each verse. Do they all the verses lead to a main message that is found in the chorus? Answer all these questions and then apply this to your own songs.
2. Write About What You Know
Pick a genre and/or subject that you are familiar and comfortable with and know about. Especially something from your own personal experience. It could also be something something you are very passionate about. This provides a natural flow and motivation. It links you and your life experience to the song in a meangingful way. It makes the song sincere and believeable and you will feel more confident writing about something you know. The more you are personally involved and connected with the subject matter, the more deeply you feel the meaning or message, the more comfortable you are with the genre and style, the more authentic the end result will be. And listeners know authenticity when they hear it. Your song will speak to them on a different level than a mechanical, contrived approach.
3. Learn Song Structure and Music Theory
Lyricists need to understand song structure. They need to know what AABA and ABAB structure means. They need to know how to use metre and rhyme schemes. Music composers need to know basic music theory: at the very minimum they need to understand keys, the chords that work for each key, key changes, cadences, resolutions. This can be instinctive, without even knowing the technical terms or knowing what you are actually doing, but there must be a knowledge and understanding of these musical and structural elements to produce a worthwhile song. Songwriters never stop learning about the craft.
4. Take Notes. Often.
Most well known and successful songwriters talk a lot about the notes they take. Snatches of lyric. Subject matter ideas. Hooks. A chord progression. Search for Lennon and McCartney and you will find photos of their scrawled notepad ideas. Like the successful songwriters, you should always have something available to record your songwriting ideas. And go through these notes regularly, expand on them, build on them. Use your phone, or an envelope, or a napkin, or a special notepad, or anything that is handy. Many songwriters keep a notepad and pen by their bed every night because many of our best ideas come at night and sometimes even in our dreams. If you get that great song idea, a piece of melody or lyric, when you are half asleep, it always helps to have a pen and pad next to you. Don´t go back to sleep and rely on your memory and think you will still remember in the morning. You probably won´t, and your genius idea will be gone and lost forever.
5. Rewrite A Famous Song
Rewriting a well known song is always a good songwriting exercise. You can write new lyrics or a new melody to an existing song. In each case you already have the advantage of working with an existing melody or lyric, and this gives you a blueprint to work from. You could also try rewriting only parts of it - for example keep the verses but write a new chorus. Or Keep the chorus and try and write new verses that also work with that chorus. When writing a new lyric to an existing melody, or a new melody to the original lyric, make sure that you use the same amount of syllables and stress points within those syllables. Each piece must fit into place. Doing this well can create a completely new and original song. This is the basis for the Songwriting Challenge Category in The UK Songwriting Contest where contestants´ skills are tested to the limits.
Some songwriters like to work on their own all the time. But most collaborate at least occasionally. Some writer´s find it much easier to write melodies and have a struggle finding words to go with them. Others only write lyrics. Others get together with their songwriting partner and share both the melody and lyrics work. Again, The UK Songwriting Contest has a special collaboration section for this. Check out the details and see how you can find your ideal partner by entering your lyric or melody. The UKSC will match up suitable lyricists and composers, put them in contact with each other and pass on work, and even professionally record selected songs.
7. Don´t be too self critical
No one writes a great song every time. You probably won´t ever hear great songwriters´ disasters because they usually keep them to themselves and don´t share them. But you can be sure that even the most famous and successful songwriters have written terrible songs that are probably as bad as, or worse, than some of your own disasters. You need to accept early on that most of your efforts are not going to be Grammy winners. Especially if you are still a beginner and starting out. It takes a lot of time and practice to become good at songwriting. There will be a progression and your songs will get better - but only if you keep writing and don´t give up. Your first songs are the building blocks along the way, and you will get better with each one. Don´t be too hard on yourself.
8. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite.
Probably the number one basic mistake that most beginner songwriters make is that they don´t rewrite. Maybe your song came in a flash of magical inspiration and you don´t want to mess or interfere with that. Or maybe you struggled long and hard to get the verses, and they work well with the chorus, and the last thing you want to do now is go back to the beginning and change things, let only delete or rewrite entire sections. But the truth is that you really do need to do this. Or at least you need to go though the song critically and consider changing things. Listen to some of the early versions of famous songs as they developed - Beatles songs are a great source and place to see this in action because they can be easily found on YouTube and elsewhere in their very rough unfinished and early states. You can clearly see how these songs changed and grew, and how whole sections were taken out or added, and lyrics and meanings and styles changed. This is what you should also do before you actually call a song complete. Be sure to look at all possibilities before you decide it is finished. And remember that all the great songs were scrutinized and often heavily edited before they were released.
The easiest place to network is online and there are many songwriter’s forums on the internet. Some of these are much better and more useful than others, but if you find the right one it can be a good place to meet like-minded people and other songwriters. It could also be a good place for you to post your songs for opinions and maybe even critiques. The place that we recommend for UKSC entrants is, of course, our own Songwriting Community Group on Facebook. It´s a very friendly and helpful place for songwriters who enter songs in the UKSC and you will find some very knowledgeable and supportive people there - including professionals and even contest judges who sometimes pop in and follow posts. But check out all the others, do some searches, and also look closer to home and find out if there are any local songwriting groups, open mics, music clubs, theatre groups etc in your local area that you could get involved with.
10. Stay Positive
Songwriting can be a very humbling thing. You are putting your baby, your personal creation, out there for others to react to. This is a brave thing to do. Remember that. But the truth is that not everyone will like a song you have written. Some will actively dislike it and even other songwriters can sometimes be hurtful when pointing out what they don´t like about it. The thing you need to always remember is: never, ever, take it personally. It is not a personal judgement. Nobody equates your songwriting with you as a person. Every great songwriter has written terrible songs. Everyone learns and develops and improves. And every song that one person loves is hated by someone else. Keep positive. Move on. Believe in yourself. Learn from constructive criticism. Take every critique and suggestion on board and learn from it, but don´t accept that it is necessarily correct or the only possible reaction. And don´t ever change yourself to suit or impress others if you want to write great songs.
Take care, and best wishes from
The UK Songwriting Contest Team
Community Group: https://facebook.com/groups/uksongwritingcontest
Contest Website: https://songwritingcontest.co.uk
Facebook Page: https://facebook.com/uksongwritingcontest
Have you got a great melody - but can´t get the words?
Many songwriters have been there. You have a great tune, maybe even a whole song with verse, chorus, bridge middle eight etc - but you just can't get the right words. It is so frustrating. Maybe you find melodies very easy, you can write a great tune every day. But the lyrics refuse to appear. And you don´t know why. And you start thinking you will never be a good songwriter, and you give up because "I can't write lyrics". So many of us have experienced this.
Now is the time to remember: Elton John didn´t write lyrics - he only wrote melodies. That´s why he worked with Bernie. And there are many other successful songwriting collaborations, where one person wrote melodies and the other wrote lyrics. The trick is to find the right collaborator.
We think we have come up with a solution for this year´s UK Songwriting Contest. It works like this:
1. Songwriter submits a melody.
2. Judges choose melodies that could develop into a good song but need the right lyrics.
3. We post these melodies online and invite lyricists to write lyrics for them.
4. We pass on every lyric submitted to the melody writer. Every match creates a brand new complete song!
5. We choose a winning new song from all these lyrics to melody matches.
5. We professionally record the winning song. (But we also give the melody writer the option of using their own backing track if they prefer this).
Check out the new Melody Only Category and all the other song categories in this year´s event.
NEW VIDEO !
Watch this video, see and hear last years winners, and learn about the 30 Song Categories and opportunities for songwriters in 2020.
RECORD DEAL - AND FREE LOTY ENTRY!
This year´s prizes include an International Record Deal with world wide distribution of your song through the world´s top stores and streaming sites. Winners will be featured in a special Awards Show Video, and prizes include one-on-one coaching, Songwriters Guild Memberships, song pitching opportunities and much more. There is also FREE entry in the LOTY Awards included, an option to be part of The International Songwriting Awards (The ISAs), and everyone receives $50 worth of song pitching opportunities with SongU as a thank you gift.
SONGWRITING CHALLENGE - AND MORE
Categories this year include The Songwriting Challenge (write new lyrics or a new melody to a famous Paul McCartney song), Crisis Songs, Work In Progress for songs you are still working on, Unplugged and Acoustic, Music Aid 2020 (with a special Cover Songs category) and lots more. There are 30 categories this year with a category for every type of song and something for everyone. Visit the website for full details.
We sincerely wish you every success with your songwriting - and we hope you are taking good care of yourself and your loved ones at this difficult time. Stay safe!
The UK Songwriting Contest Team.