We can all work in our own little world but this music business leaves plenty by the wayside. So you have to believe and test yourself against your peers. That's one reason I entered the UKSC (UK Songwriting Contest). The UK Songwriting Contest is one of the world's most popular, longest running and established songwriting events. It works with top British producers and industry professionals and was formed with the aim of "discovering and encouraging new songwriting talent and promoting the craft of songwriting".
What I liked about this competition, compared to others, was that your song is awarded a score whether it gets through to the latter stages of the competition or not. This at least gives you some sort of benchmark to compare between songs and an idea of how close you got to the next stage. You also received a certificate no matter where your song finished.
So this is what I decided to do. I entered a couple of MP3s in several categories as I couldn't really work out which was the best fit for reggae, but they didn't make it into the semis. I also entered songs in the 'Lyric Only' category and am pleased to say that two have reached the semi-finals and so in with a shout of the finals.
For me, this is a great marker. It means industry experts also think I can write songs. There are plenty of other things that make you wonder whether it is worth the effort in this business. But getting your song through to the final rounds of a competition are things you can look back on and say to yourself keep going!
Well the UK Songwriting Contest 2016 ended and my songs didn't reach the finals. However, this was my first submission to a songwriting contest and below are the certificates for my two highest placed songs.
As an independent songwriter and producer this really gives incentive to push ahead. It puts my skills in some context. Now, the judgements are partly a matter of opinion and taste so, not achieving my goal in the contest will not diminish the determination to succeed. As we are all listeners to music, we know that musical taste is a very personal thing.
As I mentioned above, to try and reduce some of the issues around taste, I also entered songs in the 'Lyrics Only' category. This way the judges can envision the song according to their tastes. I added no notes regarding the genre of the song.
What I take from the outcome is that my own beliefs are not misplaced even though there is still a lot of work to do. Having the certificates also gives a little reminder, on those days where you wonder if it is worth it, that you can achieve success in this industry.
As an independent there are so many hats to wear, songwriter, musician, producer, studio engineer, business person, marketeer all needing some of your precious time. A little bit of validation from your peers goes a long way.