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Songs for Democracy. Create a future to sing about. Submissions due December 1, 2022.

Songs for Democracy

Create a future to sing about!

Calling singers, songwriters, musicians, lyricists, artists, designers, and performers for a creative collaboration, and a chance to win a $3,000 grand prize


Songs for Democracy: a Collaborative Competition to inspire the passion and participation that a thriving democracy requires.

Song serves to unite ideas and passion, effort and commitment. In American history, song has sparked revolution, roused the commitment to end slavery, rallied volunteers to defend the nation, and sustained marchers demanding civil rights. The alloy of words and melody have at times united the nation and at others moved us to respond to crisis and embolden change.

Songs for Democracy seeks entries of songs with (optional) accompanying cover art that will move our democracy forward. All genres accepted. Collaborations between writers, composers, performers, and visual artists are encouraged. 

Grand prize for each winning group: $3000 and a full video production, design, and shoot at the U-M Video Studios

Key Dates:

  • 14 October: Submission portal opens
  • 1 December: Submission due date

Details:

Submissions should include an audio recording or video of the song (typically 2–3 minutes) and a text document with the complete song lyrics. Bonus points awarded for including cover art (see collaborator link below). The recording *does not* need to be professional quality – a simple mobile phone recording can suffice. Including sheet music, lead sheet, or notated arrangement is encouraged but optional. The submission portal can be accessed here.

A panel of judges will review all submissions to select a set of finalists. Finalists will be chosen on the basis of power and effectiveness of message, including concept, lyrical impact, and how the music amplifies and propels the emotion of the text. Songs must include text and music, but can be for any number of voices and any type of musical accompaniment. Songs would typically be around 2 or 3 minutes long. Up to three winning songs will be selected. 

In addition to the prize money, winners will receive a full video production, design, and shoot at the U-M Video Studios in the Duderstadt Media Center on North Campus. This state-of-the-art facility includes state-of-the art equipment and a highly skilled and creative staff. (See their most recent 2021-22 highlight reel here.) The value of the shoot is well over $10,000. You and your group will end up with a video to share online that looks and sounds great. It will be a lot of fun too!

Match with collaborators:

Love to write but aren’t comfortable with musical composition? Want to participate with cover art for an entry, but need a group? Enter your information in the Arts Engine Songs for Democracy portal to be matched with potential collaborators!

Looking for inspiration? NPR’s American Anthem series tells 50 stories about 50 songs that have become galvanizing forces in American culture, each representing a cause, group, or identity through music. Explore the series and listen to the playlist here!

FAQ:

  • Q: Do submissions need to fit a certain genre or theme?

    • A: All genres are welcome. Submissions can address broad themes about democracy - such as the open exchange of ideas, fair and free elections, social justice, greater equality in our democratic institutions - to inspire the passion and participation that a thriving democracy requires. In American history, song has sparked revolution, roused the commitment to end slavery, rallied volunteers to defend the nation, and sustained marchers demanding civil rights. We seek songs that capture this spirit, using music to propel the emotion of the text. Creativity is encouraged!
  • Q: How do I sign up? 

    • The registration portal is available here.
  • What is the prize for winners?

    • Up to three winning individuals or groups will win a grand prize of $3,000.

Get ready to inspire the passion and participation that a thriving democracy requires.