John Lennon Songwriting Contest
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." Prizes for 72 Finalists, 24 Grand Prize Winners, 12 Lennon Award Winners and 1 Song of the Year winner vary from year to year. In addition to cash awards, winners receive prizing from Yamaha, Other World Computing (OWC), Audio-Technica, SESAC, Digital Media Academy, Epiphone, IK Multimedia, SSL, Mackie/Ampeg, ZVEX Effects, New Bay Media, etc. In addition to the songwriting prizes, one band is selected annually to perform on the Vans Warped Tour, courtesy of Neutrik USA.
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, Prince Royce, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers, George Clinton, Jim Steinman, 311, Switchfoot, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Mike Sapone, Matthew Koma, Taylor Momsen, 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 and 1,000 CDs in full color with premium Digipaks courtesy of Disc Makers.
The highest honor that the John Lennon Songwriting Contest awards is the Song of the Year. This coveted prize is awarded to one of the twelve Lennon Award winners, and includes a $20,000 cash prize, in addition to a ZVEX Effects loaded pedal board, pressed vinyl from Disc Makers, $1000 Mackie/Ampeg prize pack, SESAC prize package, $1000 gift certificate to Digital Media Academy, IK Multimedia Total Studio 3 Bundle and IK Multimedia iLoud.
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. Entry fees from the John Lennon Songwriting Contest support the non-profit Lennon Bus.
List of Song of the Year Winners
- 1999: "Leaving Town" by Robert Kyle, Chris Lowe, Scott Romig, Rob Schilz, Charles Martin
- 2000: Sparkle Star by Bubble (Share and Bam Ross) **
- 2001: Sow by Clint Lagerberg **
- 2002: Falling Down by Amy Fairchild **
- 2003: Amen by Arthur Godfrey **
- 2004: Bandwidth by Scott Routenberg **
- 2005: Hurry Home by Zane Williams **
- 2006: Escondidos by Gaby Moreno **
- 2007: Wake Up Call by Colourslide **
- 2008: One Of Those Nights by Matt Cusson **
- 2009: The Ransom by Madison Violet
- 2010: Bridge Song by Eliza Callahan
- 2011: Until Today by Dean “DL” Leeson
- 2012: Belle de Louisville by Jonas Friddle & The Majority
- 2013: Colour It by Helen Austin & Paul Otten
- 2014: Dysphoric by The Rare Occasions
- 2015: Arizona by Common Souls
Note: ** - Maxell Song of the Year
- Country Standard Time, "Uncle Earl, band member win John Lennon songwriting contest", Tuesday, April 17, 2007
- “Mint Green Bee” from Gustafer Yellowgold’s Wide Wild World was the Grand Prize Winner in the Children’s Category in 2008.
- "What's Right For Music, "an increasingly popular career boost..."". Archived from the original on 9 June 2007.
- "Awards and Prizes".
- "Lennon Award to Bubble". Billboard: 42. 7 July 2001. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
- Bingaman, Brian. "Local man's sowing the seeds of music". The Reporter. Digital First Media. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
- "Amy Fairchild - Songwriting Awards". Amy Fairchild. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
- "John Lennon Songwriting Contest and Namm Present the Spin Doctors, Announce Winner". Yamaha. 30 July 2004. Retrieved 11 October 2015.