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Songwriting Competition - Rules and Guidelines

Collection of the official Rules and Guidelines, plus Addenda
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Songwriting Competition - Rules and Guidelines


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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


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What is this about (concept and idea):
Each month, there will be a specific theme, premise and genre given for the challenge. Interested participants then have a certain time frame to let their creativity some air. 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. Trade feedback during the process. 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 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, or until the 1st of the next month (Popular Vote System)
Currently, the SWC is held on a monthly basis.

The challenge always starts on 0:00 (UTC+1/CET or UTC+2/CEST) of the 1st of the month and runs until 24th of the month at 23:59 (UTC+1/CET or UTC+2/CEST). The voting usually ends around the 1st of the following month at 23:59 (UTC+1/CET or UTC+2/CEST)

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


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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 (by 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 (-14,0 LUFS ILk max / Integrated max)
  • properly name/tag your WAV/MP3 file (SWC000_ArtistName_TrackName.wav/mp3. while the AristName is your forum username) prior to uploading and posting on the forum
  • upload your production to any place that hosts your files longer than 45 days, and make the file easily downloadable
  • post your song in the corresponding competition thread, and also provide 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 some final words (feedback) to everyone (unless 20 participants are exceeded) and vote for his/her personal Top 20 favorite compositions. Giving constructive feedback and interacting is an essential part of this particular game. Failing to do so, and/or voting for yourself, results an automatic disqualification
  • depending on the participant amount, the winners podium changes. Eight or fewer participants (<=8 participants) results in a "Sole Winner", nine or more participants (>=9 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
  • additional bonus: the winners of the Songwriting Competition can select one prize from the available license pool in order of the Winners Podium. However, you are not forced to pick up anything (as in: just join the game for the fun of it), 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.
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Rules and Guidelines in Video Form [PLACEHOLDER]


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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


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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 in worst cases result in an instant disqualification.

General Guidelines
  • Each Songwriting Competition will have a theme and a premise. Please base your production upon these given parameters, or try to interpret them as best as you can
  • Productions shall ideally not exceed 10 minutes, neither may they be shorter than 1:30 minutes (like: TV Openings/Endings) - unless otherwise stated. A general good practice is to try to aim for anything between 3 minutes to 8 minutes of run time
  • Please no (re)upload of one of your finished and already released productions. You can revisit an old production of yours, or remake/renew a several week-old work-in-progress. Including something you started during another songwriting game, but you were limited on time and/or allowed equipment. However, the general idea is to create something new and unique within the framework of this Songwriting Competition. It wouldn't be fair to all other participants.
  • 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!
  • All entries submitted must be original songs and shall not infringe any copyrights or any other rights of any third parties. Please no cover version / rearrangement / remix from somebody else. Or in other words: content that you don't the hold rights to (like "a found" a capella, or "resampled" parts from other songs without drastic mangling). If in doubt, please contact the Mix Challenge staff
  • In relation to that - and important note: participants of the Songwriting Competition retain all ownership rights to all submitted song(s). The Mix Challenge audio community will not have any ownership rights to any song(s) submitted.
  • 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
  • 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 or high quality MP3/AAC/OGG/FLAC)
  • Please only use tools and sample content you are legally entitled to use
  • if you've used Creative Commons material, please read and follow the license of the content you use.
  • please try to not submit mixes higher than -14 LUFS ILk (Integrated)/-1.0 dBTP max in terms of perceived loudness (this is the same loudness value as Spotify, Amazon, Tidal and Youtube as of July 2020). Music does not have to be squashed to bits (mastered loud!) in order to be impactful
  • While the Songwriting Competition is not intended to be a WIP forum (work-in-progress), edits to and re-submissions of your songs are allowed. Feel free to always ask for feedback and help, improve on your mix and production - maybe there is "one final piece of the puzzle" missing that somebody else might point out prior to the end of the game. (please use the edit function of your post, don't submit multiple times)
  • The concept of the Songwriting Competition is about "just create something", interaction, and learning how to receive/how to express feedback. Every participant is highly encouraged to comment even during the submission period. Please be respectful to each other
  • your production must the finished and not be further edited by the time of the deadline (24th of the month, 23:59 UTC+1/CET or 23:59 UTC+2/CEST), as all entries will be collected and posted in one global post after the submission period, to create a foundation for the final feedback and voting process

Upload and Submission Guidelines
  • productions and edits must be uploaded/finalized by the time of the deadline (24th of the month, 23:59 UTC+1/CET or 23:59 UTC+2/CEST)
  • you can upload to wherever you like (DropBox, Google Drive, SoundCloud, etc)
  • entries must be available for at least 45 days (please don't use anything like WeTransfer or Hightail)
  • 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!
  • please do not forget to document your edit
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Rules for Voting


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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, or until the 1st of the next month (see next point). 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 or 23:59 UTC+2/CEST on each 1st day of the following month. Voting can end sooner, if all participants gave their final feedback and cast their vote before the end of the deadline. Results do not show up automatically!
  • Each participant must(!) vote for ones personal Top 20 favorite compositions
  • The voting positioning is in descending order (most-favorite position being No. 1 = highest points, proceed downward to the lowest position)
  • If there are less than 10 entries, please proceed the same way (No. 1 position = 10 points, proceed downward to the lowest position)
  • The ranking plus any received bonus points will effectively be summed together and result in a final numeric score. The top three highest scores declare the winners podium
  • the Winners Podium size (itself) is declared by the participation amount
    • 1-position Winners Podium -- if there have been eight or fewer (number: <=8) participants in the current running game
    • 3-position Winners Podium -- if there have been nine or more (number: >=9) participants in the current running game
  • 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
  • In the case of equal scores after voting, entries will be separated by 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 give final feedback and/or cast your 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
  • Giving final thoughts/feedback on the productions are mandatory. Even if you have already been active during the submission period. While this might feel foreign and uncomfortable to you, this user/participant back-and-forth stems from the idea to encourage interaction. You can learn how to give and/or receive, not to mention maintain constructive criticism. See what can be expanded/improved upon ones creation. Feedback to own productions is always wanted, but it's often left short on plenty of audio communities. Here, it's part of the game.
  • please give constructive feedback to everyone. If the competition exceeds 20 entries, then you are free to only give feedback to your top 20 productions.
  • your created Top 20 list should ideally have the backdrop upon "technical flaws" rather than personal issues with a certain instrument, genre or (worst case) even the participating person.
  • please be objective and encouraging, have a focus on the overall production and technical stuff. For example: "please look out for possible issues in the following frequency ranges", or "while this is a great melody, and unless it was planned this way, some notes might clash with the chord progressions. Maybe shift some notes around a bit on time-stamp 0:00min". Maybe even "I like these vocals, but maybe consider adding a bit more reverb to let them fit better into the production".
  • Please do not be averse to doing the voting process. In order to be able to address bonus content (software/sample licenses), we need to have a mechanic that declares a Winners Podium in a fair manner. It is fine having a momentary personal ranking at the time of your post. Please always remember: Everyone joining the Songwriting Competition is a winner - you are not worth less by getting an overall lower score on the score sheet.
  • Vote Results will usually be posted about 48-72 hours after the voting period has ended - this is not an automated process

Voting examples

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: 7 participants, 6 places can be given, with values from 10 pts to 5 pts)

A 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
A Top 7 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

Participants of the Songwriting Competition can score up to thirty (number: 30) global bonus points on the score sheet for the following situations
  • 1 bonus point for properly naming your files (file consistency) 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)
  • 2 bonus points each (up to 4 points max) for submitting a mix equal or lower than -14,0 LUFS ILk (+-0 LU Integrated) and -1,00 dBTP max -- if you only got 2 points, your track either exceeded -14,0 LUFS ILk or it clipped ( > -1,00 dBTP max).
  • up to 5 bonus points 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
  • up to 20 bonus points for creating your "top 20 entries" during the voting process (part of the "Winners Podium" mechanic to get a chance to win bonus software licenses). One point per participant. If there are less than 20 participants, then only as many points as there were entries, excluding your own (example: 12 participants, then 1 point per vote, result: 11 bonus points)
You can also loose points (-5 points each) however. One example would be, if you missed the deadline of the voting process, but you still post your feedback/vote within the first 24 hours of going over the clock.

The "Bonus Point Mechanic" offers an additional dynamic to the game, where "not adhering to given rules" does not result in instant disqualification (only exception: not voting for ones personal Top 20), but instead offers an incentive to pay attention to detail. Sometimes one missing extra point can have a drastic influence on the final score sheet.

IMPORTANT: The winners of a corresponding competition might be considered for a future challenge on the community forum. The winners might also be presented in a possible future Podcast. It is recommended to all participants to practice good editing/workflow techniques for potential follow-up projects.

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 as bonus incentive. But in order to do so, we need to unfortunately set up an additional set of rules.

General rules
  • participants of the Songwriting Competition that sent in a track/song/production, are allowed to win bonus licenses
  • 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 select
  • 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 will turn unavailable from the pool for the next winner.
  • Prize 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 (full name and email address) plus what license you picked. Then either the company in question will get in touch with you directly, or the license handler (in this case, the forum admin)
  • Should you not(!) get an answer within reasonable time (10 work days bar minimum, please keep a delay in responses due to the ongoing pandemic in mind), 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 PMs within 14 days (calendar 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) Your opinion is very valued. However 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) Am I limited on tool/instrument usage?
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 the Mix(ing) Challenge to work with a reference level and not exceed a certain LUFS value - the Songwriting Competition can have "hotter" releases. Though please try not to exceed -14 LUFS ILK/-1.00 dBTP 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 possible follow-up "Mix(ing) Challenge" and/or Podcast, It is recommended to all participants to practice good editing/workflow techniques in order to make preparations for potential follow up projects easier.

Q6) Can I edit my entry? I've missed something / I had a render issue (IMPORTANT: Songwriting Competition only!)
A5) You can. In fact, it is highly encouraged to reach out, ask for help, interact, etc. Your entry should be final by the time of the deadline (24th of the month, 23:59 UTC+1/CET or 23:59 UTC+2/CEST). 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 coming up...