Duluth Dylan Fest’s Song From the North Country Songwriting Contest

** NOTICE: We have reached our limit of 30 contestants and are not accepting any more entries. **

2021 Rules, Waiver and Terms

In honor of Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday this year, the Duluth Dylan Fest and Song From the North Country welcome you to our 2021 Songwriting Contest! You are invited to submit an original song to the contest. Please apply early because entries for this year’s contest are limited to only 30 songs. Entries will be closed by 11:59 p.m., April 2, 2021. There will be prizes awarded to our first, second and third place winners.

  • Cash:  1st place — $250; 2nd place — $150; 3rd place — $100
  • Live Performance: First, second and third place winners will each be invited to play a 20-minute set on the Duluth Dylan Fest stage on May 30, 2021 from 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Collaborative Music Video:
    * The 1st place winning song will be made into a music video by Song From North Country’s musical collaborative and promoted widely by Duluth Dylan Fest and Song From the North Country through their social media networks, press releases, promotional materials, etc.
    * The 1st place winning songwriter will be invited to participate directly in the production of Song From the North Country’s collaborative video at the discretion of the producers.

Here are our contest rules:
1.  Only original, previously unpublished works of the songwriter will be accepted.
2.  Submitted recordings should feature a basic arrangement of the songwriter/vocalist and their solo performance instrument(s) of choice. Recordings of the songwriter’s voice and piano or their voice, guitar and harmonica are examples of the basic arrangement the judges prefer.
3.  Song submissions should range in length from 3 to 5 minutes. 
4.  Songwriters may submit their songs as either audio or audio/video recordings. However, songs will be juried by their audio content only.
5.  Submitted recordings must have an audio quality of at least MP3 320kbps or the equivalent. Acceptable audio file formats are .mp3, .mp4, .m4a and .wav. Acceptable video file formats are .mp4 and .mov.
6.  Submissions must include the following:
(a) Complete the SurveyMonkey Contest Registration Form.
(b) Provide a brief written statement about your song and your connection to the North Country (Northern Minnesota/Northwestern Wisconsin).
(c) Upload your lyric sheet and recording to the Dropbox link in the survey. SurveyMonkey Registration Form with Dropbox link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DDF2021
7.  The winning songwriter must provide an on-tempo audio reference recording of their song with a tap-in or click-track count-in as well as a lyric/chord/beats-per-minute tempo sheet within three (3) days of notification. This may be the same recording and lyric sheet as included with their songwriting contest submission if they meet the above criteria. Tech support and direction to create these reference tools will be provided by Song From the North Country producers to the winning songwriter as needed.

Our criteria for judging each song will be:

  • Originality — Is this song unique? Does it reiterate someone else’s feelings or are they your own?
  • Melody — Does the melody grab you, make you listen?  Does it create emotion to hold interest? Does it use dynamics to convey tension and release?
  • Lyrics — Does the song have a strong hook or opening line that pulls the listener in? Do all verses support the chorus? Is the chorus memorable and tie the verses together? 
  • Composition — Do the melody and tempo emotionally match and support the lyrics?

The contest judges are all friends of good music and will have artistic license to judge as they see fit.

Songwriting Contest Waiver:

By entering, contestant declares their entry (“the song”) to be an original work of their own composition, and retains all rights to the song. However, by entering they also agree to allow Duluth Dylan Fest and Song From the North Country to use photos, video and audio of the song on our websites, YouTube channels and other social media for promotional purposes.

The winning songwriter further grants permission to Duluth Dylan Fest and Song From the North Country to arrange, record, promote and distribute the song — crediting the songwriter — at the discretion of Duluth Dylan Fest and Song From the North Country.

Contest Results:

Songwriters will receive notification by email of their song submission status on April 4th, 2021.  All contestants that move forward will be notified by email of the contest results by April 12th.


For questions about the contest or the Duluth Dylan Fest please contact Pat Eliason, (218)348-5315, Zane Bail, (218)393-7438 or duluthdylanfest@gmail.com

If you have any technical questions about submitting your audio or audio/video recording or questions about Song From the North Country, please contact Timothy Soden-Groves, (218)391-5819 or mothygroves@gmail.com.