2020-MAY-09 Info: Please help spread the word about the Songwriting Competition and help it reach 15 participants per month on average

Songwriting Competition - Rules and Guidelines

Thematic Songwriting Competition - recurrence: monthly
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Mister Fox
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Songwriting Competition - Rules and Guidelines


Post by Mister Fox »

These are the official rules for the "Songwriting Competition"

All changes to the rules will be handled in here. The thread is linked from each challenge and the corresponding sub menu from the main page.

The rule set is split over the course of the following posts, for easier understanding and simplicity in terms of finding. Please consult the appropriate sub-point if you want to read up on the rules and limitation:

Post 1: Introduction Post
Post 2: General information about the challenge and time frames
Post 3: TL;DR Rules
Post 4: Rules and Guidelines in Video Form (not implemented yet)
Post 5: Song Provider Guidelines
Post 6: Rules for participants of the Songwriting Competition
Post 7: Rules for Voting
Post 8: Rules and General Information for winning goods
Post 9: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions

If there are any questions, feel free to ask them in the Q&A and Gossip Area. Take note that the rules can be modified at any time(!) - though we will inform the contestants of the changes.

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General information about the challenge, time limits, etc


Post by Mister Fox »


What is this about (concept and idea):
There is not much to tell about Songwriting Competitions (SWC in short). Each month, there will be a specific theme, premise and genre given for the challenge. Then people have a certain time frame to let their creativity some air In this this particular game, there is no limitation in terms of what tools you can use (unless otherwise stated), neither if it's instrumental or with vocals.

Just... write a song. Maybe even collaborate with somebody you always wanted to work with. But the most important thing should be, to have fun!

The competition time frames
  • 24 days for writing/recording and submitting (1st of the month until 24th of the month)
  • 1-2 days post mixing: the challenge staff will collect all productions, and present them in one global post (at the moment, this happens within 6-12 hours after the submission period has ended)
  • 5 days of voting process (Popular Vote System)
Currently, the SWC is held on a monthly basis.

The challenge always starts on 0:00 (UTC+1/CET) of the 1st of the month and runs until 24th of the month at 23:59 (UTC+1/CET). The voting usually ends around the 1st of the following month at 23:59 (UTC+1/CET)

Confused with the times, use this tool and select "Berlin (Germany)" as Location 2:

Alternatively: the global world clock at the top of the forum, the Global Countdown via the Mix Challenge homepage, or the timer on the index page

Thread for questions, giving feedback and OT talk: Q&A and Gossip Area

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TL;DR Rules


Post by Mister Fox »

The rule set it's shortest form:
You don't want to read the whole Rules and Guidelines and/or find it too detailed? Here is the "Too Long, Didn't Read" (TL;DR in short) version.

  • Check the forum at the 1st of the month and read up on the premise of the game (the theme) and the desired genre
  • create an audio production based upon the desired theme/genre by the end of the given deadline (usually 24th of the month)
  • you can collaborate as often as you want, but you're only allowed to have one main entry
  • you can use whatever tool set is at your disposal, but try to be reasonable with mastering (recommended: -14LUFS ILk or -12dB RMS avg/K-12 max)
  • properly name/tag your WAV/MP3 file (SWC000_ArtistName_TrackName.wav/mp3)
  • upload your production to any place that hosts your files longer than 7 days, and make the file easily downloadable
  • post your song in the corresponding competition thread, and also provide some rudimentary documentation
  • once the submission deadline has ended, the admin/moderator collects all entries and start the voting process - this is not an automated process
  • during the voting process, it is mandatory for each participant to give feedback to everyone (unless 20 participants are exceeded) and vote for his/her personal Top 20 favorite compositions. Failing to give feedback and vote, or voting for yourself, is an automatic disqualification
  • depending on the participant amount, the winners podium changes. Seven or fewer participants (<=7 participants) results in a "Sole Winner", eight or more participants (>=8 participants) results in a 3-position "Winners Podium"
  • winners of the challenge(s) are declared by popular vote, in order of highest score to lowest - posting the results is not an automated process
  • the winners can select one prize from the available license pool in order of the Winners Podium. However, you are not forced to pick up anything, neither can two participants select the same company

If you have any further question, please consult the detailed Rules and Guidelines below.
Good luck to all participants.

UPDATED: 26-FEB-2019

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Rules and Guidelines in Video Form [PLACEHOLDER]


Post by Mister Fox »

Placeholder for a video tutorial playlist

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Song Provider Guidelines [PLACEHOLDER]


Post by Mister Fox »

There are no Song Provider guidelines. The competition is open for everyone.

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Rules for participants of the Songwriting Challenge


Post by Mister Fox »

These rules and guidelines are for the challenge participants and the actual competition itself. This is the most important rule set for those that want to participate with an production. Violation of the rules will result in a public warning, and in worse cases even in an instant disqualification.

Rule set for participants
  • Each Songwriting Competition will have a theme and a short premise. Please stick to the given theme and premis given in each corresponding challenge thread
  • Production shall not exceed 10 minutes. A good practice is to try to shoot between 3 and 7 minutes of run time (unless otherwise stated)
  • Do not create productions shorter than 1:30 minutes (think TV openings/endings), see previous point for ideal length of production (unless otherwise stated)
  • Your entry must be composed / finished specifically for this contest (or, if a new/revised version from an old production of yours, then arranged/recorded specifically for this contest). Your production could have started weeks ago already - as long as it's finished/presented for the Songwriting Competition in question first
  • Your entry can be created with any tool at your disposal. No limit on samples, instruments and effects (unless otherwise stated). The final result must be provided in digital form (WAV and/or MP3)
  • (as of SWC032) do not submit mixes higher than -14LUFS ILk/-1dBTP or K-12v1 (avg)/-1dBTP in terms of perceived loudness (mastering). Music doesn't have to be squashed to bits in order to be impactful
  • Important: One person can participate with either one entry, or with one entry and/or (if the creative output is that high) multiple collaborative efforts. However, only one main entry per participant - no multiple entries of the same song/production but with a slightly different mix!
  • Every submission has to be properly tagged/documented with: used instruments/sample sets, players' and singers' (especially collaborations!), name of the composer (please also add that info to the ID tag of the audio file!), etc
  • if you've used Creative Commons material, please read and follow the license of the content you use.
  • Please no cover version / rearrangement / remix from somebody else (or in other words: content that you don't the hold rights to, like a capella, or "resampled" parts from other songs). If in doubt, contact the Mix Challenge staff
  • Please only use tools and sample content you are legally entitled to use
  • Minor edits to your submission are allowed, but this is not a WIP forum. Your entry is final!

  • (as of SWC032) productions and minor edits must be uploaded/finalized by the time of the deadline (24th of the month, 23:59 UTC+1/CET)
  • you can upload to wherever you like (DropBox, Google Drive, SoundCloud, etc)
  • entries must be available for at least 40 days (the free accounts of WeTransfer and Hightail only allow accessibility up to 7 days)
  • edits must be easily available to download without the need of any special login (SoundCloud especially), download tools (EXE installers) or various captcha requests
  • the entries must be properly named and tagged prior to uploading (especially for SoundCloud entries). For example: SWC000_ArtistName_TrackName.wav/mp3, while the Artist Name (ideally) equals the Forum Username
  • a distribution in WAV or MP3/320kbit is preferred. But other files formats like M4A/AAC, FLAC or OGG are also possible.
  • it is encouraged to export in a reasonable sampling rate (44kHz or 48kHz are common these days)
  • If you're using an artist name that is different from your user name on the forum, make that clear in the first paragraph of your post and in the tags of your entry!

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Rules for Voting


Post by Mister Fox »

The Songwriting Competition will adapt the so called "Popular Vote" system. Please get acquainted with the following paragraphs.

General Evaluation Guidelines
  • The voting period will happen after the competition has ended (24 days). The voting phase is usually/roughly 5 days long (see below). The start of this process will be announced as part of a post with all collected entries. Please take note of the challenge time frames.
  • Voting ends 23:59 UTC+1/CET on each 1st day of the following month. Voting can end sooner, if all participants cast their vote before the end of the deadline. Results do not show up automatically!
  • Each participant must(!) vote for his/her personal Top 20 favorite compositions
  • The voting is in descending order (most-favorite position being No. 1 = highest points, proceed downward to position No 10 = 1 point)
  • If there are less than 10 entries, please proceed the same way (No. 1 position = 10 points, proceed downward to the lowest position)
  • if there are less than four (number: 4) participants, the Mix Challenge community staff will step in with additional feedback and a vote. An additional random-vote modifier is used. This is to add a bit more balance to the votes, especially if the participants collaborated in some form with each other
  • The ranking plus any received bonus points will ultimately be summed together and will result in a numeric score. The top three highest scores declare the winners podium
  • if there are equal or less than seven (number: 7) participants in the current running game, there will only be a single winner (declared by highest score).
  • In the case of equal scores after voting, entries will be separated how many 10 points (or higher with more entries, i.e. how many No 1 votes) they received. Should they match up, then the next lower number will be counted. Unless one entry has higher votes.
  • Important: it is mandatory for everyone to participate in the voting process. If you do not vote, your entry will be disqualified from the final results
  • No voting for yourself, if you do, your entry will be disqualified from the final results
  • There will be no votes by non-participants. This is to prevent possible vote manipulation due to mass-vote-request outside of the forum community (rare exception: see above for less-than-4 participants)
  • Please include the forum username of the composer and not just the composition name. This will help speed up the scoring process
  • Feedback of the productions are mandatory. This user/participant interaction has the focus to give constructive criticism, see what can be expanded/improved upon one's creation
  • Give feedback to everyone. If the competition exceeds 20 entries, then only give feedback to your top 20 productions. This is to encourage user interaction and maintains constructive criticism
  • your created Top 20 list shall ideally have the backdrop upon "technical flaws" rather than just personal issues with a certain instrument, genre or (worst case) even participating person. You can also score "Bonus Points" for this (read below)
  • In order to have objectivity with the commentary, your focus should be on the following:
    • Production Feedback (55%): Use of melodic, harmonic and/or rhythmic resources - are they "working"? Arrangement and instrumentation - do they work for the song? Do they support the proposed idea of the composer for the current theme? (please keep in mind, not everyone knows harmony theory)
    • Technical Objectivity (30%): how great was the production as a whole? Is there something that you see problematic in the mix (mix techniques, mastering, etc)? What would you do different (give examples)? If you're skilled in technical analysis, maybe back that up with values (Frequency Range, Loudness Values, Maximum Peak, etc)
    • Neutral to Subjective commentary (15%): Did it fit the monthly theme (can be subjective)? Make a personal comment, maybe mention what stood out to you, what completely didn't work for you, etc. Ask for sharing "setup tips / settings" (adds to interaction)
  • Once you placed your vote, you can not change it. Unless permission has been granted by the challenge staff (response can take up to 48 hours!)
  • Vote Results will usually be posted about 48-72 hours after the voting period has ended - this is not an automated process

Voting examples (vote chart)

Assuming we have 15 participants, that means that each participant can vote for 14 tracks except his/her own. In case of less than 10 participants, the chart will be truncated accordingly of course (example: 5 participants, 4 places can be given, with values from 10 pts to 7 pts)

The Top 20 list (or in case of the example, top 14) can look something like this:
01 (14 pts) - Mr Moon
02 (13 pts) - Mr Sun
03 (12 pts) - Mrs Venus
04 (11 pts) - Mr Mars and his companions
05 (10 pts) - Mr Hale-Bopp
06 (9 pts) - The Rings of Saturn
07 (8 pts) - Mrs Gaia
08 (7 pts) - Cassini–Huygens
09 (6 pts) - Mr Pluto (I feel sorry for you)
10 (5 pts) - "Planet Nine"
11 (4 pts) - Alpha Centauri
12 (3 pts) - Proxima Centauri
13 (2 pts) - Barnard's Star
14 (1 pts) - Wise 1049-5319
The Top 10 list can look something like this:
01 (10 pts) - Mr Moon
02 (9 pts) - Mr Sun
03 (8 pts) - Mrs Venus
04 (7 pts) - Mr Mars and his companions

Please cast your vote in "hidden form". This feature has already been implemented into the forum in the form of the spoiler text BBcode. :idea:

Code: Select all

Position 1: participant C
Position 2: participant H
Position 3: participant B
This would result in the following block of text:
► Show Spoiler

Bonus Point Mechanic (implemented as of SWC031, until further notice)

Participants of the Songwriting Competition can score up to three (number: 3) global bonus points on the score sheet for the following situations
  • 1 bonus point for properly naming your files and making them downloadable by the time the deadline has ended, or up until the "submission summary" has been collected and posted (usually happening between 6-12 hours after the submission period has ended)
  • 1 bonus point for properly documenting what equipment was used during the production (you don't have to go into super detail regarding plugins per channel), and what your idea behind the production was
  • 1 bonus point for giving constructive feedback and ideas how to improve on the production during the voting process
The idea for the "Bonus Point Mechanic" is to not only get a bit more insight of ones production, but to also boost the interaction between songwriters. Sometimes one extra point can have a drastic influence on the final score sheet.

IMPORTANT: The winner of a corresponding competition might be considered for a future challenge (Mix Challenge, Remix Challenge, Mastering Challenge). It is recommended to all participants to practice good editing/workflow techniques in order to make preparations for possible follow up "games" easier.

General questions and feedback, rule debates, praise and harsh/negative criticism, shall please be addressed in the Gossip forum section in order to not derail the competition thread.

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Rules and General Information for winning goods


Post by Mister Fox »

Since we have license sponsors for this competition (mentioned separately in each corresponding competition thread), people that participate with a production have the chance to win tools or audio content. But in order to do so, we need to unfortunately set up an additional set of rules.

General rules
  • people allowed to win are participants of the Songwriting Competition that sent in a track
  • If there have been less than four (number: 4) participants in the current running game, there will no licenses available to win. This is to prevent a "participation medal" situation
  • the winners of the challenge(s) are declared by popular vote (see voting rules)
  • the sole winner/the three winners of the competition can choose from the available content by the license sponsors.
  • Only the main songwriter (the person that submitted the production) can select licenses. If there are collaborators involved, the main songwriter has to clear the "license question" himself/herself (if one of the collaborators wants a license or not). However if a collaborator also happens to be a main songwriter with an own submission on the Winners Podium, only one(!) license will be awarded to pick
  • Since we have several license sponsors for this challenge, the first winner has the first pick, the second winner can choose from what is left available in the pool, etc.
  • Only one company per winner - if the company has already been picked, it drops out of the pool for the next winner.
  • Price distribution will be cleared/handled in public in the thread of the corresponding challenge
  • If you happen to be among the top spots but don't want to pick a license, the next winner in line can pick up what's left in the pool. You are not forced to pick up anything
  • If you happen to among the top spots, please don't let others wait unnecessarily until you made your selection -- if you do not respond within 5 days after the game has ended, it will be assumed that you do not want to pick up anything and the next person in line can select something from the available licenses

Additional information for the license winners
  • you have to pick the license in public. Picking a license is on order of the winners podium
  • the license winner then has to get in touch with the admin of the forum (that is Mister Fox)
  • please provide your contact information (name and email address) plus what license you picked, and then either the company in question gets in touch with you directly, or the license handler (in this case, the forum admin)
  • Should you not(!) get an answer within reasonable time (7 work days bar minimum), contact the license handler again (or the admin rather, Mister Fox), and ask for a status. DO NOT CONTACT THE COMPANY OFFERING THE LICENSE DIRECTLY!
  • should you ignore this repeatedly, you'll be closed out of winning licenses in the future.
  • should you not respond via PM's within 30 days after the corresponding game has ended (requesting a license), your license offer/request will turn invalid

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Post by Mister Fox »

The FAQ?!
This section is for frequently asked questions of things that are not really clear

Q1) ARG! I don't have the time to join! I won't make it! Can you extend the time limits? Or do this every other month instead?
A2) No, but you can put away some time and join the next round of course. :tu:

Q2) The rules are too much - it kills the fun of the competition
A2) We hear your opinion, but we can't agree on that. Unfortunately, we have to set up fairly strict rules for everyone to be on common ground. Pretty much every challenge or competition in the music realm has this. Even if they seem like a lot, they are still fairly simple however. Though granted, super detailed in text form.

Q3) I won the competition! How can I pick up my license?
A3) Please get in touch with user "Mister Fox" (currently) - he'll guide you through. But please don't wait too long for your "first pick", the other winners want to choose as well.

Q4) Wait - I don't get this? Does the final product have to be -18dBFS RMS avg?
A4) There are no limits in terms of sound source and effect usage for the Songwriting Competition (unless otherwise stated). You can create a production however you seem fit, mix and master it even. However, while it is recommended for Mix Challenge to work with a reference level and not exceed -18dBFS RMS avg to -15dBFS RMS avg for the perceived loudness (ideally, non higher than -16LUFS SLk avg) - the Songwriting Competition can have "hotter" releases. Though please do not exceed -14LUFS ILK/-1dBTP or K-12v1 (avg)/-1dBTP (-12dBFS RMS avg, K-System v1) as absolute maximum loudness

Q5) So I can Mix and Master myself?
A5) Yes! Though considering that the winning entry could be used for a "Mix(ing) Challenge" and/or "Mastering Challenge", It is recommended to all participants to practice good editing/workflow techniques in order to make preparations for possible follow up "games" easier.

Q6) Can I edit my entry? I've missed something / I had a render issue (IMPORTANT: Songwriting Competition only!)
A5) You can, as long as it's really only because of that. This competition is not a WIP forum, (we have a separate thread for that purpose), your entry should be final by the time of the deadline (24th of the month, 23:59 UTC+1/CET). If you need to do changes or update your documentation, please edit the forum post you used for your submission, and don't post a second time.

more FAQs will be added as soon as there are more similar questions popping up...