CMT Contests


Due to extended power outages and displacement affecting much of the east coast as a result of Hurricane Sandy, as well as temporary technical difficulties with the online submission process, NSAI is extending the submission deadline of our Song Contest by 1 week. The new deadline is now Wed November 7, 2012. Those submitting online will have until 11:59 CST to do so. Nov 7 is also our new postmark deadline for mail-in entries. This extension will not affect our judging timeline or other notification deadlines. Click HERE for more details and submission information.

To enter by mail, print this form. (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader which may be downloaded free from the Internet.)

For online submissions please go to

This is the 13th year of the NSAI Song Contest presented by CMT.

The prizes received by contest winners are designed to help amateur songwriters on their road to becoming a professional songwriter and enhance their careers.

Just a few of the prizes up for grabs this year include:

  • •Sixty-minute mentoring session with legendary songwriter and artist Lionel Richie.
  • •Your song pitched to music industry executives through our winners' compilation CD for one year.
  • •Three-day trip to Nashville including accommodations by Renaissance Hotel Nashville (depending on availability) and airfare by American Airlines.
  • •A private tour of the CMT studios.
  • •Entrance to the NSAI Songwriter Networking Program.
  • •Prizes from Gibson guitar, SHURE microphone, tickets to the CMT Music Awards and much more.

The Top 12 winning songwriters will each have their song pitched to music industry execs through our winners' compilation CD for one year.

What's the one thing every songwriter needs? Connections. And that's exactly what sets the NSAI Song Contest Presented by CMT apart from all the others. The grand prize winner will receive a mentoring session from legendary songwriter and artist Lionel Richie. "NSAI's Song Contest is not a one-time prize. It's an invitation into the songwriting community," said Bart Herbison, executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International.

The popular CMT Listeners' Choice Award is also back for a sixth year. Beginning Feb. 1, 2013, the Top 10 finalists (excluding the Grand Prize Winner) in the NSAI Song Contest presented by CMT will be posted at Music fans can go to the site through Feb. 28, 2013, listen to the finalists' demos and vote for their favorite song. The song with the most audience votes will be the CMT Listeners' Choice Award winner.

Prizes are awarded to one (1) Grand Prize Winner, one (1) CMT Listeners' Choice Winner, one (1) Lyric-Only Winner, ten (10) Runners-Up and ten (10) Honorable Mentions. The contest is open to all genres of music. All songs entered receive a judging report. Music industry executives, professional songwriters and NSAI board members judge songs based on lyrics, melody and composition. Performance and production will not be evaluated.

The entry cost is $35 per entry for NSAI members and $45 per entry for all non-NSAI members.

Songwriters may enter as many songs as they like.

All entries must be postmarked by the FINAL CONTEST DEADLINE: Oct. 31, 2012 (CST). All genres of music are accepted and encouraged.

The NSAI Song Contest is presented by CMT and sponsored by the following organizations: American Airlines, American Songwriter, ASCAP, BMI, Gibson, Kim Copeland Productions, Olympus, The Parlor Studio, Renaissance Hotel Nashville, SESAC, SHURE Microphones, Sonicbids, the Bluebird Cafe, We Make Tapes and Discs, Best Built Songs, Black River Entertainment, Cotton Valley Records, ole Music Publishing, Platinum Pen Publishing and Roots Three Music.

NSAI is the world's largest not-for-profit songwriters trade organization.

Got questions about the contest? We’ve got answers. Click here for a list of FAQs.

Sweeps Info


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American Songwriter covers every aspect of the craft and business of songwriting.
ASCAP is a membership association of over 240,000 U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers of every kind of music as well as hundreds of thousands of music creators worldwide. ASCAP is the only U.S. performing rights organization with a board of directors elected by and from the membership.
A Nashville institution, the Bluebird Caf้ is an intimate venue for audiences to see and hear the music up close. Over 2,500 songwriters play this world famous music room each year.
Performing rights organization BMI represents more than 300,000 songwriters and publishers in all genres of music through its repertoire of approximately 4.5 million musical works from around the world.
Breaking In is the must-have handbook for any aspiring entertainer - in any discipline - who wants to avoid the pervasive pitfalls and myths of the industry while accelerating their opportunities to become superstars. It is also the first book of it's kind to address the mental preparation, skills, traits, and specific actions required to break in to any aspect of the Entertainment Industry. If you or someone you care about has ever considered a career in any field of entertainment, this book is for you!
Gibson is the official guitar of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).
Kim Copeland Productions offers a variety of services anywhere from demo production to in-depth consultation of all parts of the music business.
Olympus Imaging America Inc. continues to be an innovator, developing new technologies to expand the frontiers of digital imaging and audio recording. Olympus leads where others have followed. Olympus technologies enable consumers to go places and do things they never thought possible, enhancing people's lives every day -- proof that Olympus enables consumers to capture it all.
The Parlor Studio is a world class, Grammy award winning, Nashville recording studio owned by musician/songwriters who are dedicated to helping new and established music recording artists create the best possible record.
Renaissance Hotel Nashville is located in the heart of downtown Nashville, Tenn., and is dedicated to providing the best service, the best facility and the best vacation experience possible.
SESAC is a performing rights organization with headquarters in Nashville and offices in New York, Los Angeles and London.
SHURE has been dedicated to helping you tell the truth with notes, words and sounds since 1925.
Sonicbids is a website that helps bands get gigs and promoters book the right bands. Our community includes over 150,000 bands, singers, songwriters and performers of all kinds.
Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 51 million customers at the end of the first quarter of 2011 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies including the first wireless 4G.
We are celebrating 32 years of business in 2011. We have great prices, we get the job done when promised (or before!) and we actually respond to your phone inquiries in real time -- no phone menus, messages or operators in a distant land.

Publishing Sponsors:
Best Built Songs
Black River Entertainment
Cotton Valley Records
ole Music Publishing
Platinum Pen Publishing
Roots Three Music

Special thanks to the Americana Music Association.

Lyric Mentor: Tom Douglas

After a successful career in commercial real estate, but with a lifelong passion for music, Tom Douglas attended a songwriters' seminar in Austin, Texas, in 1993. He played one of his early compositions "Little Rock" for publisher/producer Paul Worley, who took it with him back to Nashville. Sony/ATV Music Publishing signed Douglas as a staff writer, and in June 1994, "Little Rock," as sung by Collin Raye, became a No. 1 hit and a nominee for CMA song of the year.

He earned his second No. 1 hit on the pop charts in 1998 with "The Gift," recorded by and co-written with Jim Brickman. In 2001, Tim McGraw took "Grown Men Don't Cry" to No. 1 and subsequently collaborated with Douglas on the country hit "My Little Girl," which also became the end title for the Fox film Flicka in 2006. "Love's the Only House," recorded by Martina McBride, reached the Top 5 on the country charts, followed by another hit, "God's Will." From the summer of 2009 to the summer of 2010, Douglas achieved a rare triple play award when he had three No. 1's in a year -- Lady Antebellum's (co-written with the group) "I Run to You," followed by McGraw's "Southern Voice" (with Bob DiPiero) and concluding with Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me" (with Allen Shamblin).

Douglas has had songs recorded by Garth Brooks, George Straight, Brooks & Dunn, Randy Travis, Trisha Yearwood and others. Lee Ann Womack's "Something Worth Leaving Behind" was a hit single as well as an album and book. Most recently, Douglas won CMA song of the year with Lambert's "The House That Built Me."

Lionel Richie


You Could Win

  • Grand Prize
  • •Sixty minute mentoring session with legendary songwriter and artist Lionel Richie.
  • •Your song pitched to music industry executives through winners' compilation CD for one year.
  • •Three-day trip to Nashville including accommodations by Renaissance Hotel Nashville (depending on availability) and airfare from American Airlines.
  • •Tickets for two (2) to the 2013 CMT Music Awards.
  • •An acoustic Gibson guitar.
  • •Much More

  • CMT Listeners' Choice Award Winner
  • •Sixty minute session with Evan Farmer and an autographed copy of this book, Breaking In: The Formula for Success in Entertainment as well as attending a taping of CMT's Top 20 Countdown.
  • •Your song pitched to music industry executives through winners' compilation CD for one year.
  • •Three-day trip to Nashville including accommodations by Renaissance Hotel Nashville and airfare from American Airlines.
  • •Single-song demo produced at the Parlor Studios with professional producers and musicians.
  • •Tickets for two (2) to the 2013 CMT Music Awards.
  • •Much More

  • Lyric-Only Winner
  • •A mentoring session with Tom Douglas ("I Run to You," "Hello World" recorded by Lady Antebellum, "The House That Built Me" recorded by Miranda Lambert and "Grown Men Don't Cry" recorded by Tim McGraw.)
  • •NSAI event gift certificate.
  • •One-year NSAI membership.
  • •A Sprint smart phone or other device of your choice with 10 percent off your monthly service.
  • •Much More

  • Runners-Up
  • •A meeting with a major music publisher.
  • •Your song pitched to music industry executives through our winners' compilation CD for one year.
  • •NSAI event gift certificate.
  • •One-year NSAI membership.
  • •Much More

  • Honorable Mentions
  • •Certificate of achievement.

  • All Entrants
  • •A free personalized judging report.