Frequently Asked Questions

I've never written a song before. Can I still enter?

Of course! Is there any better time to start than now? We’d love to hear what you create.

Can I ask someone for help?

Yes! Ask for opinions or help from others – get a few close friends to preview your song and be open to feedback; if your school has a music department, ask for their input!

Is there another way to enter my song other than MP3?

In order to standardize quality and optimize file sizes for all contest submissions, MP3 is the only format accepted.

Can I use a song I've created for another project?

All songs need to be based on the theme Connections. We want everyone to have a fair chance for this contest, so we’re looking for original content. Your submission cannot have been previously published, submitted, distributed or aired prior to entering this contest.

How long should my song be?

Please keep your song under 5 minutes.

Does my song have to fit a certain style?

We want you to be as creative as you can—whether pop, country, hip-hop, R&B, rap or anything in between. No matter what the style, showcase your talent as a songwriter using Connections as the theme by writing a song that expresses what that means to you.

Can I submit my song in my native language?

Of course! RootsTech Connect will have attendees from all over the world participating virtually in 2021. We love culturally diverse song styles and messages. In order to best represent the message you are trying to share through your music, please also include your lyrics translated into English alongside the original lyrics.

Can my song be instrumental or does it need to have lyrics?

Instrumental music can be very moving, but in order to best explore the contest theme “Connections”, submissions for this contest should include lyrics to be eligible. If the song contains lyrics in a language other than English, please include an English translation for your lyrics when you submit your entry.

I am a songwriter, does that mean I have to enter as a professional?

Use your best judgement on this one. If you make music for a living, are paid for the music you make, or work in the music industry you would most likely be considered a professional. Be honest with yourself and others. The grand prize winner may be chosen from any of the three categories.

How does the judging work?

The submissions period begins November 18, 2020. All entries submitted by December 31, 2020 will first be judged by the RootsTech music contest team panel. Semi-finalists entries will be notified and their songs uploaded to for a public voting period January 7 – 20, 2020. Twelve finalists will be chosen and will be eligible for the Grand Prize, Individual Category Winners, and People’s Choice awards. Virtual attendees of the 2021 RootsTech conference and an expert judges panel will vote on the finalists during the 2021 RootsTech Connect virtual conference February 25-27, 2021. The judging panel and attendees will pick the Grand Prize winner, winners from each youth, amateur, and professional categories.

When will the winners be announced?

Finalists will be announced January 22, 2021.

Final category winners and the grand prize winner will be announced on the last day of RootsTech Connect, February 27, 2021.

Who owns the copyright to my music?

RootsTech is granted permission to use your music in any way they see fit through an unlimited usage agreement in all forms, per the agreement. You still own the copyright.

Why am I asked to include cover art?

In order for us to create a webpage where your friends and family can come to vote for your song, we need an image to be placed alongside so that people can find and vote for it. Your cover art can be as simple as a photograph or a more produced piece of design – it’s up to you. Please make sure that your album cover art does not include explicit content, as it will be seen by both adults and children.

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