Unsigned Only Music Competition: Q&A

May 6, 2024

+44 (0)116 253 0203

We’re delighted to have officially partnered with the team at the Unsigned Only Music Competition. 

Unsigned Only is a yearly music competition designed for solo artists, bands, and singers all over the world who are looking for exposure, recognition, and a chance to be noticed by industry professionals.  

We recently caught up with the team at Unsigned Only to learn more about how their competition works, what type of prizes are on offer, and how artists can make the most out of their application… 

1. For those who aren’t familiar with The Unsigned Only music competition, please give us a run-down of what it is?  

The Unsigned Only Music Competition is looking for great artists who are NOT signed to a “Major” record label (Indies are totally fine!). As there is no physical event to attend, the competition is open to artists from anywhere in the world. Artists simply upload songs as mp3s or provide streaming links to their songs for consideration. This exposure can open doors to international audiences (more fans and more connections) and opportunities to take your career to the next level. Unsigned Only welcomes music in all genres, ensuring that all artists have the chance to enter and win. 

The panel of esteemed judges and successful past winners make it the premier music competition in the world for unsigned artists. Entering Unsigned Only gives you the chance to have your music heard by renowned musical artists and industry professionals who have the power to open doors and shape careers.  

2. What types of prizes are on offer for artists entering in 2024? 

The competition gives away over $150,000 in cash and prizes, and the Grand Prize winner is awarded $20,000 USD plus additional merchandise and services geared toward helping an artist’s career and there is also a First and Second Place winner in each of the 18 categories. For more information on the prizes for this year, you can check out our prizes page here.

3. Who are some of the judges for the 2024 competition?

Judges include: Aimee Man, Rufus Wainwright, Sanctus Real, Leann Rimes, Robert Smith (The Cure), Beabadoobee, Rodney Atkins, Jill Scott, Angie Stone, Chris Culos (O.A.R.), Nicholas Petricca (Walk The Moon), Janiva Magness, Derek Brown (The Flaming Lips), The Devil Makes Three, Ruthie Foster, David Benoit, Tinariwen, Hillsong Worship, Anthony DeCurtis (Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone); Jason Lipshutz (Music Editor, Billboard Magazine); Lyndsey Parker (Managing Editor, Yahoo Music); Christopher Scapelliti (Editor-In-Chief, Guitar Player); Kevin McNeese (President, NewReleaseToday); Carl Loben (Editor-In-Chief, DJ Mag); Damian Fanelli (Editor-In-Chief, Guitar World); Jeff Zuchowski (VP, Artist Marketing/Industry Relations, Pandora); John Dibiase (President, Jesus Freak Hideout); John Cameron (Editor-In-Chief, Selector); Angel Romero (Founder/Sr. Editor, World Music Central); Hilary Saunders (Managing Editor, No Depession); Art Tipaldi (Editor, Blues Music Magazine); Raoul Hernandez (Music Editor, Austin Chronicle); Brandon Chitwood (Founder/Writer, The EDM Scholar); Tom Lanham (Music Critic, The San Francisco Examiner); Mac Randall (Editor, JazzTimes); Paul Riario (Tech Editor, Guitar World Magazine); Chad Jensen (Artist Manager, Jensen Artist Mgmt); James Kempner (Owner, JMK Connections); Jennifer Taunton (Music Supervisor, Level Two Music); Leticia Ramirez (Sr. Latin Curator Programmer, Pandora); James Whitting (Partner, Paradigm Talent Agency); Angela Stefano (Music Journalist); Gaston Leone (Talent Buyer, Goldenvoice); Mark Garfield (Co-Director, Pop-Up Music UK Ltd.); Paul De Barros (Pop Music Editor / Jazz Writer, Seattle Times); Maura Johnston (Music Critic, Boston Globe); Emmanuel LeGrand (Editor, Creative Industries Newsletter); Alison Bonaguro (Freelance country music journalist): Dylan Berry (Owner, SmashHaus); Adam Weitz (Sr. Director, Film/Trailers/Sampling, AMP Music); Mike Locke (VP, Creative Synchronization and Marketing, Atlas Music); Debra Delshad (Sr. Director, Synchronization and Licensing, Angry Mob Music); Mike Torres (A&R, Position Music); and Daryl Berg (VP of Music Strategies / Licensing, Hallmark, Crown Media).

4. Please tell us about the application process and what artists will need to provide? 

The easiest way to enter is via our online entry form here.

Artists would first log in as a “New User” and create an account, then follow the prompts. They would then either upload songs as mp3s or provide us with streaming links. The final step would be payment (which is currently $35 per entry) and they would pay with either a major credit card or PayPal. 

5. Are there any criteria to be eligible?  

The only real criteria is that you must be submitting some type of recorded “song” that you as the artist entering, are performing. It can be either an original composition or a cover version, as the focus of the competition is on the “performer” not the “writer” of the song. 

6. Who are some notable past winners of the The Unsigned Only music competition, and how have they used the competition to further their careers? 

Previous winners and entrants include: Grammy nominee Ingrid Andress; Coco Jones; GAYLE; Faouzia; Gabby Barrett; BélO; Tenille Arts; Goodbye June; Anna Wolf; Wes Mack; Brett Young; and more. All of these artists entered before they were signed to major record labels, and all of them gained further recognition in the industry after their wins. 

7. What makes a stand-out submission, is there anything that all the previous winners had?  

There isn’t really “one thing” which makes a standout submission for Unsigned Only. We’re looking great artists, via the songs they submit to us, through any of the 18 categories that we have for the competition. 

8. Can you give our clients 3 top tips on how our artists can make the most out of their submission?  

  • Make sure the submission you are entering is the best representation of you as an artist.
  • If you are unsure of the category, you should be entering, go to our winners page to get an idea of what the judges were looking for previously.
  • If you are unsure what your best song is, then you can certainly enter more than one (or more than one category). Not only are you giving the judges more of a representation of you as an artist and your range of songs, but you are also giving yourself more possibilities in the competition, with more chances to win prizes and more exposure.

9. When is the deadline to submit for The Unsigned Only music competition 2024?  

Including a number of annual special promotions (that will include entry into Unsigned Only 2024), entrants will have at least until the end of May 2024 to enter this year. 

Want to sign up and see if you can win $20,000 USD? – Create your account here.

Follow Unsigned Only on: Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter). 

Hello, it looks like you are visiting from . Click to view content specific to your region or no thanks, don't show again.