Click here to enter. All 2017 entrants will receive one free magazine subscription to either Guitar Player or Guitar World ($30 value) just for entering.

Welcome to Unsigned Only


Are you an unsigned artist (not signed to a major label record company)? If so, Unsigned Only is the perfect opportunity for you. Unsigned Only levels the playing field for artists like you because it excludes entries from anyone who is signed to a major label record deal, so you are not competing with well-known artists, Grammy winners, or artists with a major label machine behind them. This is why the competition is called Unsigned Only.

Unsigned Only is 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. The goal of Unsigned Only is to find an outstanding, talented performer: a band, singer, or solo artist...a newcomer or veteran...raw or polished - the “gem” that needs to be discovered. 

Conceived of and produced by the team who bring you the prestigious International Songwriting Competition (ISC), Unsigned Only is a fresh and novel approach to other music competitions. Yes, it offers great prizes, recognition, exposure, and the chance to be heard by a group of judges consisting of high-profile recording artists and industry professionals. But, Unsigned Only also takes it a step further and puts the Grand Prize winner in direct, personal contact with the influential record label executives who are the ultimate decision-makers. For the first time ever, a music competition offers the Grand Prize winner the unprecedented opportunity to be mentored by a group of record company presidents, A&R reps, and more. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to directly network with the top echelon of record company professionals and get guidance, advice, feedback, and networking opportunities.

Unsigned Only offers many categories/genres for you to enter, including Screen Shot which is geared toward getting your music into film, tv, video games, and other licensing opportunities. You can enter as many songs as you like in as many categories as you like. Since Unsigned Only is looking for an artist, it is advantageous to enter multiple songs so that the listening committee can know who you are as an artist.

2017 Judges include: Aimee Mann; The Killers; Bone Thugs N Harmony; The Struts; Ying Yang Twins; Aaron Shust; David Crowder; Lucero; Frank Foster; Kyle Anderson (Senior Writer, Entertainment Weekly); Josh Jackson (Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief, Paste Magazine); Anthony DeCurtis (Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone); Zach Long (Associate Editor, Time Out Chicago); Michael Molenda (Editor-In-Chief, Guitar Player); Lyndsey Parker (Managing Editor, Yahoo Music); Jed Gottlieb (Music & Theater Writer, Boston Herald); Kevin McNeese (President, NewReleaseToday); Sarah Jones (Editor, Electronic Musician Magazine); Suzanne Cadgene (Publisher, Elmore Magazine); and more to be announced. 

Mentors include: Pete Ganberg (Executive VP/Head of A&R, Atlantic Records); Keith Naftaly (Executive VP of A&R, RCA Records); Mike Elizondo (Senior Vice President of A&R, Warner Bros. Records); Joey Arbagey (Executive VP of A&R, Epic Records); Seymour Stein (Chairman, Sire Records / VP, Warner Bros. Records); Kim Stephens (President, Forward Entertainment); Mark Jowett (VP of A&R Int'l (Nettwerk Music Group); Dani Markman (Director of A&R, Disney Music Group/Hollywood Records); Josh Bailey (Sr VP of A&R, Word Entertainment); Nick Haussling (Director A&R, Razor & Tie); Michael Goldberg (A&R, American Recordings); Doug Johnson (VP of A&R, Black River Entertainment); Jeanine McLean-Griffin (Executive VP/GM, MBK Entertainment); Marcus Spence (President, Mosley Music Group/Epic Records) and more tba.

Screen Shot judges include: Evan Stein (Experience Music Group); Velma Barkwell (East End Music Productions); Jen Taunton (Level Two Music); James Kempner (JMK Connections); Carlos Muhammad (Egyptian Man Entertainment Group); and Jessica Cole (Lyric House Publishing)

The Grand Prize Winner will be awarded $20,000 in cash (plus additional prizes) and one-on-one mentoring by an elite group of record company executives. First Place and Second Place winners will also be selected in each category and will be awarded prizes. The First Place winner in the Screen Shot category will also be mentored by a group of music execs who place songs in film, tv, ads, and video games. All prizes are listed on the Prize page. Winners for the 2017 competition will be announced in early September, 2017.

The 2017 Categories include:

  • AAA (Adult Album Alternative)
  • AC (Adult Contemporary)
  • Americana
  • Christian
  • Country
  • EDM (Electronic Dance Music)
  • Folk/Singer-Songwriter
  • R&B/Hip-Hop
  • Rock
  • Pop/Top 40
  • Screen Shot (original songs in all genres suited for placement in Film/TV/Advertising/Gaming)
  • Teen (for artists 18 years old and younger)
  • Vocal Performance 

NOTE: Unsigned Only accepts ONLY original songs in the Screen Shot category. Entries in the Vocal Performance category will be based solely on the quality of the vocals. Unsigned Only accepts all genres of music in the Teen, Vocal Performance, and Screen Shot categories.




September 15, 2016

Unsigned Only is pleased to announce the 2016 wunners! Click here for the complete list.

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