Song Contest FAQs

Have questions about the NSAI Song Contest? We have the answers!
 
Check out this list of FAQs and click on the questions to find out more. If you can't find the answer you're looking for, contact reception@nashvillesongwriters.com.
 
 

  • Who is eligible to submit a song to the contest?
  • How much does it cost to enter a song?
  • Is there a discount for submitting multiple songs?
  • How do I submit an entry through the mail?
  • How do I submit an entry online?
  • Can I drop off my songs in person?
  • Can I submit songs that I wrote with someone else?
  • Is the contest open to all genres?
  • Can I submit lyrics only?
  • Can I submit the same song to both the Lyric-Only and Song categories?
  • Can I send in an instrumental-only song?
  • I'm sending in more than one song. Can I pay with one check?
  • Can I submit multiple songs on the same CD?
  • Can I email you an .mp3 or .m4a of my song?
  • Is the contest open to entries from the United States only?
  • Who judges the songs that are submitted to the contest?
  • How many winners are there?
  • Where can I find a list of prizes?
  • If I don't place in the contest, do I still receive anything from NSAI?
  • When will I hear about the results of the contest?
  • How do I inform you if I move or change my phone number or email address after I've already submitted a song?
  • How are the prizes divided amongst co-writers?
  • If my song placed in last year's contest, may I resubmit it again this year?
  • If my song is available on iTunes or other digital download sites, can I still submit it?
  • Does my submission need to be a professional-quality recording?
  • I am not a good singer. Can I get someone else to sing on my submission?
  • When do you stop accepting submissions?
  • I recently made changes to a song I've already submitted. Can I send you the new version to replace my original submission?
  • I have written new lyrics to an already existing melody made famous by another artist or writer. Can I submit this song?
  • Is there an age requirement for submitting a song?
  • Will my submission be returned to me at the end of the contest?

 

  • Who is eligible to submit a song to the contest?

 
Contest is open only to Songwriters who are legal residents of the United States or the District of Columbia (excluding residents of Maryland, Colorado and Connecticut), Canada (excluding Quebec), United Kingdom and Australia, 13 years of age or older. Due to local restrictions, residents of Maryland, Colorado, Connecticut and Quebec may not enter. Eligible minors (ages 13-17 years) must obtain their parents' or legal guardians' permission prior to participating. A Songwriter submitting a song with multiple co-writers must have all co-writers' consent to participate in this Contest. For the purpose of this Contest, no co-writer or Songwriter may be subject to a current agreement with a publishing company, record label or other entertainment-related entity to render recording or songwriting services that is currently in effect and/or have agreed to provide rights in and to musical compositions or recordings entered to contest to any such company, label or entity at the time of song(s) entry. Any Songwriter or co-writer (of submitted song) who at the time of entry derives the majority of their income from songwriting, currently has a staff writing deal with a publishing company, or has ever had a song appear on any of the following charts is not eligible to participate in the Contest Billboard, Mediabase, and/or Radio & Records (R&R).
Employees and their immediate families (spouse, parent, child, sibling and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside or those living in the same households, whether or not related) of NSAI, Country Music Television, Inc. ("CMT"), ViacomCBS, a division of ViacomCBS Networks International Inc. (together with CMT, "ViacomCBS"), Martin Guitar and Strings, and all other Contest sponsors and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, licensees, successors and assigns, officers, directors, contractors, partners, shareholders, representatives, members, agents, employees, and advertising and promotion agencies, web developers and marketing agents (collectively with Promoter Parties, the "Released Parties") are not eligible to participate in the Contest. NSAI reserves the right to require Songwriters to prove that they are eligible. Void in Maryland, Colorado, Connecticut, Quebec and where prohibited by law. Contest is subject to all applicable federal, provincial, territorial, state, national and local laws.
 

  • How much does it cost to enter a song?

 
$35 USD for NSAI members/$45 USD for non-members
 

  • Is there a discount for submitting multiple songs?

 
No. The $35/$45 USD fee is per song. This includes lyric entries.
 
 
 

  • How do I submit an entry through the mail?

 
Click here for CMT's NSAI Song Contest page. There will be a PDF of the submission form. Fill it out completely and mail the form along with your payment, CD and lyric sheet to the address listed on the application. Make sure to fill out all necessary information and include all materials. Missing information or materials will delay the processing of your entry and could possibly keep your song from being considered in the contest.
 

  • How do I submit an entry online?

 
Click here to submit directly online.
 

  • Can I drop off my songs in person?

Absolutely. If you live near NSAI's office in Nashville, save a stamp. In-person submissions will be accepted at NSAI, which is currently open in a limited capacity observing CDC recommendations for health and safety. NSAI's office at 1710 Roy Acuff Place, Nashville, TN, is open Monday to Thursday 10am - 3pm Central. Submitters should arrive with their submission fully ready to be turned in. They will be buzzed into the building, as capacity allows, to leave their submission and make payment with the receptionist.

  • Can I submit songs that I wrote with someone else?

 
Yes, though there are some important distinctions. Many songs are co-written with two or even three or more people. We welcome co-written songs into our contest. The person who submits the song to the contest will be the one eligible to receive any potential prize distribution. A Songwriter submitting a song with multiple co-writers must have all co-writers consent to participate in this Contest. For the purpose of this Contest, no co-writer or Songwriter may be subject to a current agreement with a publishing company, record label or other entity to render recording services that is currently in effect and/or have agreed to provide rights in and to musical compositions or recordings to any such company, label or entity. Any Songwriter or co-writer (of submitted song) who derives the majority of their income from songwriting, currently has a staff writing deal with a publishing company, or has ever had a song appear on any of the following charts is not eligible to participate in the Contest; Billboard, Mediabase, and/or Radio & Records (R&R).
 

  • Is the contest open to all genres?

 
Yes. NSAI may be based in Nashville, but we serve writers in all genres. In fact, many of our recent Grand Prize-winning songs have been in genres outside of country, including pop, contemporary Christian, rock and singer-songwriter. All songs are judged upon the same 10-point scale regardless of genre.
 

  • Can I submit lyrics-only?

 
Yes. The NSAI Song Contest has a Lyric-Only category. Submit your lyrics in the same fashion you submit any other song. The price for lyric submissions is the same.
 

  • Can I submit the same song to both the Lyric-Only and full song categories?

 
Yes, although you must fill out two separate submission forms and pay for two separate entries. We cannot simply apply the lyrics of one submission into the Lyric-Only category. Each entry must have a separate entry form and payment.
 

  • Can I send in an instrumental-only song?

 
No. Unfortunately we are unable to accept instrumental pieces at this time.
 

  • I'm am mailing in more than one song. Can I pay with one check?

 
Yes. If you send in multiple songs in the same package, you can include one check written in the proper amount. However, each song must be on a separate CD and each entry must have its own entry form.
 

  • Can I submit multiple songs on the same CD?

 
No. We have multiple judges and we separate entries from each other. As such, each song you intend to submit to our contest must be on its own CD. You also must include a separate entry form for each submission.
 

  • Can I email you an MP3 or M4A of my song?

 
No. All online submissions must be made here. We cannot accept emailed submissions directly to NSAI.
 

  • Is the contest open to entries from the United States only?

 
No. We accept entries from songwriters who are legal residents of the United States or the District of Columbia (excluding residents of Maryland, Colorado and Connecticut), Canada (excluding Quebec), United Kingdom and Australia. However, residents of Maryland, Colorado and Connecticut may not enter due to state laws. If you are submitting a song in a foreign language, you must include an English translation in order to be eligible.
 

  • Who judges the songs that are submitted to the contest?

 
Judges are comprised of music industry professionals.
 

  • How many winners are there?

 
SONG CATEGORY: One (1) Grand Prize Winner, up to nine (9) Runners-Up, and up to ten (10) Honorable Mentions.
 
LYRIC-ONLY CATEGORY: One (1) Lyric-Only Winner and (1) Lyric-Only Runner-Up Winner.
 

  • Where can I find a list of prizes?

 
You can visit here at any time for a complete list of prizes.
 

  • If I don't place in the contest, do I still receive anything from NSAI?

Yes. Every song or lyric, regardless of final placement, will receive a judging score sheet. This score sheet will reflect the sum of your scores for each category. It is not meant as an in-depth critique, such as you might receive from NSAI's Song Evaluation Service, for example. Rather, these score sheets are meant to serve as a useful guide and barometer for how industry professionals viewed your song.
 

  • When will I hear about the results of the contest?

 
Submissions run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 3, 2020. If you are selected as a finalist, you will be notified by phone or email by no later than the end of January 2021. All winners will be notified of their placement by no later than April 1, 2021. Once all winners have been announced, NSAI will begin emailing out the judging score sheets.
 

  • How do I inform you if I move or change my phone number or email address after I've already submitted a song?

 
We rely on the contact information you provide us when you enter a song. We use this information to get in touch with all winners and send out the judging score sheets at the conclusion of the contest. If your contact information changes during the course of the contest, please contact us at reception@nashvillesongwriters.com with  "SONG CONTEST ADDRESS CHANGE" in the subject field. You may also call us at 800-321-6008.
 

  • How are the prizes divided amongst co-writers?

 
The entrant who submits the song to the contest is the eligible recipient for potential prize distribution and will be awarded all prizes directly in the event that the song places in the contest. It is up to the entrant of each winning song to divide up prizes as they see fit. Note: Only one person can be in the industry meetings, and the entrant must decide who that will be.
 

  • If my song placed in last year's contest, may I resubmit it again this year?

 
If your song won the Grand Prize Award in the previous year, it is not eligible for submission the following year. However, Runner-Up and Honorable Mention songs may be resubmitted.
 

  • If my song is available on iTunes or other digital download sites, may I still submit it?

 
Yes, provided the song is not signed to a professional publishing contract and/or your total income derived from the song (or songwriting in general) does not make up the majority of your yearly income.
 

  • Does my submission need to be a professional quality recording?

 
Absolutely not. Submit your song in a manner that represents you and the song in the best way possible, given your means. A simple guitar/vocal or piano/vocal work-tape is more than enough in most cases. However, do not confuse this with a bad-quality recording. You will want to avoid sending in songs with ambient noise in the background (phone ringing, dog barking, TV, etc.), or significantly lacking vocal quality, tempo and pitch issues, etc. These things can distract the listener immensely and take away from your song as a whole. Melody, for example, is a significant part of the judging process. If you submit a song featuring a very off-pitch singer that does not sing the correct melody, the judges have to evaluate the song based upon what was submitted. Only you can decide if you should be the person to play or sing on your submission.
 

  • I am not a good singer. Can I get someone else to sing on my submission?

 
Yes. Many people get professional demo singers -- or simply friends who sing well -- to perform their songs. This does not mean that they are co-writers on the song.  
 

  • When do you stop accepting submissions?

 
All online entries must be received by 4pm Central on Nov. 3, 2020. Any mail-in entries must be post-marked by this date in order to be eligible.
 

  • I recently made changes to a song I've already submitted. Can I send you the new version to replace my original submission?

 
No. Once a song is submitted, we cannot replace it with any other song. Though if the changes you make are significant enough, you are welcome to submit the song again.
 

  • I have written new lyrics to an already existing melody made famous by another artist or writer. Can I submit this song?

 
No. Both melody and lyric must be the writer's original work in order to be eligible for the contest. This applies to songs under public domain as well.
 

  • Is there an age requirement for submitting a song?

 
Yes. Writers who are 13 years old or older can submit to our contest. Minors under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian fill out the appropriate areas of the application form in order to be eligible.
 

  • Will my submission be returned to me at the end of the contest?

 
No. We will not be able to return CDs or other packages received during the contest.
 
Didn't find the answer you were looking for? Email us at reception@nashvillesongwriters.com or call 800-321-6008.