John Lennon Songwriting Contest

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The John Lennon Songwriting Contest, named for former Beatle John Lennon, is a songwriting competition for songwriters, open to amateurs and professionals. The contest was established in 1997 by Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, in collaboration with David Sonenberg and Brian Rothschild.

The contest accepts instrumental pieces as well as songs with a vocal component. Though all entries must include a CD, cassette, or mp3 file, a professional recording is not needed. Songs are not judged based on performance, but on originality, melody, composition, and lyrics (if applicable). Entries may be submitted in any one of twelve categories:

Songwriting contests such as the John Lennon contest have been called a "career boost."[1] Prizes for 72 Finalists and 24 Grand Prize Winners vary from year to year, but past winners have received Studio Equipment from: Roland/Edirol, Audio-Technica, Gibson Guitars and Epiphone, gift certificates from, and a one year subscription to Guitar Player, Bass Player, Keyboard, or EQ Magazine. In addition to the songwriting prizes, one band is selected annually to perform on the Warped Tour for one week and receive a Blackheart Handsome Devil Head and Cabinet, Publicity, Radio Marketing and Strategic Consulting services courtesy of Music Allies, and Creative Allies design contests showcasing the winning band, so they can win licensing to exclusive: Posters, T-Shirts and Pocket-size Flyers.

The John Lennon Songwriting Contest is divided into two sessions each year. Session I runs until June 15, and announcements for winners and finalists of this session occur on September 1. Session II begins on June 16 and runs until December 15. Winner and finalist announcements for Session II occur on March 1 of the following year. In each session, there are twelve grand prize winners - one for each category - and thirty-six finalists - three for each category. Judges for the John Lennon Songwriting Contest vary each year. Executive judges are often well-known recording artists and members of the music industry, including Fergie, The Veronicas, Natasha Bedingfield, Bob Weir, The Bacon Brothers, Ryan Shaw, Ken Komisar, Jesse Harris, Lamont Dozier, and Matt Pinfield.

The contest also gives out twelve Lennon Awards each year. These awards are fan-voted and are faceoffs between the previous year's Session I and Session II grand prize winners for each category. Lennon Award winners receive additional prizes from Mackie, Ampeg or Blackheart, and 1,000 CDs in full color with premium 6-panel Digipaks courtesy of Disc Makers.

The highest honor that the John Lennon Songwriting Contest awards is the Maxell Song of the Year. This coveted prize is awarded to one of the twelve Lennon Award winners, and includes a $20,000 prize check, as well as an Apple computer with cinema display, a Mackie Mixer, a pair of Mackie Studio Monitors, Logic Pro Software, and a $1000 scholarship to Digital Media Academy.[2]

On July 27, 2010 the 2009 Maxell Song of the Year winner was announced to be Canadian Folk duo Madison Violet, for their song "The Ransom."

The contest was created by Brian Rothschild, a former songwriter and keyboard player for the band I Am Siam, and David Sonenberg, whose company manages acts that include Fergie, The Black Eyed Peas and John Legend; they joined with Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, to create the contest in 1997. They also outfitted The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, a non-profit 501(c)(3) mobile audio and HD video recording and production facility, that provides free hands-on programs to hundreds of high schools, colleges, Boys and Girls Clubs, music festivals, concerts, conventions and community organizations throughout the country.


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