Once you've finished writing some great song lyrics, you have a few options on how to get your work heard. If you know musicians, you might be able to record a demo. If you don't, chances are you'll need to enter a lyric writing competition to get industry professionals to consider your talent.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Write piles of songs. As with any art, the more you practice, the better you'll get. Improve your odds in a lyric writing competition by writing mountains of material and choosing from the best.
Get honest evaluation on your song lyrics before entering them in contests. Let friends and family read your lyrics and offer constructive criticism. For more objective feedback, ask professional musicians or music teachers at your local university to evaluate your work.
Study the classics to improve your craft. Whether it's the fast-paced raps of Jay Z, the tough country swagger of Johnny Cash or the evocatively ambiguous poetry of Kurt Cobain, you can improve your odds in songwriting contests by learning everything you can from history's greatest lyricists.
Collaborate with other musicians to get a good feel for how well your lyrics translate into songs. Judges of lyric contests will have experience combining lyrics with music, and they'll judge your lyrics accordingly. Brilliant poetry doesn't necessarily translate to great song lyrics.
Contact songwriting contests to enter your lyrics. The Internet can be a great way to find and enter contests around the world. The Great American Song website sponsors one of the most renowned and competitive lyric contests online (see Resources below).
Use music industry magazines to find lyric writing competitions. In addition to the advertisements you'll find for lyric contests, many of these magazines sponsor their own contests. The American Songwriter website hosts one of the most popular contests (see Resources below).
Copyright your song lyrics. While copyright ownership is implied through creation, some songwriting contests will expect you to provide documentation of extra legal protection. Check with the United States Copyright Office website for information on establishing legal ownership of your work (see Resources below).
Tips and warnings
- Cast your net as wide as possible. Improve your odds by entering as many competitions as you can. While smaller or regional contests might not offer the cash prizes or industry esteem of the largest contests, they can still be a good way to keep taking steps forward with your lyric writing career.
- Prepare for rejection. Chances are, you'll experience years and years of rejection before winning a lyric competition. Instead of getting discouraged, use rejection as a way to improve your craft for the next year's contest.
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