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Enter the 20th International Songwriting Competition

Story Published Tuesday 21 September 2021

Entries are open for the 20th Anniversary edition of the International Songwriting Competition (ISC). Extended deadline is 3 November.

Aussie and Kiwi songwriters have a long tradition of making the finalist round - and winning!

ISC can help level the playing field for songwriters at any stage of their career.


The ISC is celebrating 20 years of acknowledging global songwriting talent. Entries are open now, and we know there will be standout Aussie and Kiwi talent eager to submit their songs. We asked the organisers what makes this year such a special one.

This year marks ISC’s 20th year anniversary, what will make this year’s competition different?

This year marks a major milestone for ISC as it is the 20th Anniversary since it was launched in 2002. ISC recognizes the hard work and passion that musicians put into their music and wants to celebrate these artists and provide opportunities to further their careers.

One of the best ways to help artists is to give away more prize money and more merchandise. So, in honor of its 20th Anniversary, ISC has increased its overall prize package to $225,000 in cash and prizes to be shared by a total of 71 winners in 23 genre categories. The overall Grand Prize package has also been increased to almost $70,000 and includes $25,000 (US) cash plus merchandise and services.

Additionally, a Founder’s Choice Award of $10,000 (US) has been established. This one-time award is separate from the overall $25,000 (US) Grand Prize selected by ISC’s esteemed panel of judges. The winner will be selected by ISC's founder, Candace Avery, and ISC's Listening Committee and gives them the opportunity to recognize and award their favorite song for the first time in ISC’s history.

What is the criteria for entering ISC? What kind of songs are judges looking for?

ISC is looking for original songs in all styles and genres of music, and all credit goes to the songwriter(s). There are 23 categories to choose from including AAA (Adult Album Alternative), AC (Adult Contemporary), Americana, Blues, Children's Music, Christian, Comedy/Novelty, Country, EDM (Electronic Dance Music), Folk/Singer-Songwriter, Instrumental, Jazz, Latin Music, Lyrics Only (no music), Music Video, Performance, Pop/Top 40, R&B/Hip-Hop, Rock, Teen, Unpublished, Unsigned, and World Music.

Our prestigious judge panel consists of celebrity recording artists and industry executives with proven experience in all of these styles of music. Judges this year include Coldplay, Tom Waits, Bebe Rexha, Linkin Park, The Lumineers, Hozier, Metro Boomin, Arturo Sandoval, George Thorogood, Nancy Wilson (Heart), and more, plus executives from Atlantic, Warner, Motown, EMI, Glassnote, YouTube, Capitol, and many more.

We always recommend potential entrants checkout our winners page on our website. This allows you to hear the winning songs from last year’s competition, and you can use that as guide for selecting your category, as well as to get a sense of what they were looking for previously.

How is acknowledgment in a songwriting competition - like ISC, Unsigned Only, Vanda & Young – impactful on a career?

Over the years, many artists winners have gone on to achieve greater success, including getting record and publishing deals, licensing agreements, gigs, and much more.

Getting recognition for your music can be incredibly difficult in the music industry. I would encourage artists to take advantage of any and all opportunities available to them to help achieve that goal. If someone were to ask me would I pay $30 (US) to have the chance for artists like Coldplay or Tom Waits, or label execs from Atlantic or Warner, to listen to my music? I would say “yes", that’s an opportunity worth pursuing.

Even taking the steps as simple as going through our entry process can be a helpful learning exercise for anyone looking to put themselves and their music in front of the industry.

Last question – any tips for Aussies and Kiwis entering ISC?

You can’t win if you don’t enter. All kidding aside, we’ve recognized in the 20 years of producing ISC the importance of artists getting more recognition outside of their home country. Because there is no physical event and entering your songs is as easy as uploading an mp3 or providing a streaming link, we believe ISC can help level the playing field for songwriters at any stage of their career.