(Originally published at

Making a living in the music industry has always been seen as a catch-22: you are more likely to get the gig if you have the proper experience and image. Meanwhile, circumstances appear to conspire against the novice without access to slick production facilities, a proven string of successes, and exposure to the higher-ups in show business. Any opportunity, no matter how small, could be the chink in the wall that encloses the relatively small percentage of aspirants who “make it”. Enter the 11th Annual Billboard SongWriting Contest – geared to the amateur, yet ripe with serious possibilities!

Jim Halsey runs the Halsey Institute of Music and Entertainment Business is the co-creator of the Annual Billboard Song Contest, which satisfies his complex desire to educate while nurturing new talents. For over 50 years, Halsey has functioned as agent, manager and guide to a diverse roster of top musical artists, including Hank Thompson, Roy Orbison, Reba McEntire, James Brown, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Lee Greenwood, the Oak Ridge Boys, and Minnie Pearl.
Halsey turned his full attention to the Institute after selling the booking agency component of his business to the reknowned William Morris Agency in 1990. His seminar series “Finding Success in the Music Business” is considered to be a top-notch overview of the entertainment business from the ground up. His work has carried him all over the world, earning him countless accolades from the music industry and in the field of education. Halsey has also delved into banking, radio, real estate and investing. For a complete list of accomplishments and honors, visit


The Billboard Magazine Song Writing Contest is co-sponsored by Disc Makers, Epiphone, Digidesign, Elixir Strings, TAXI,, Indie Band Manager and BluBlocker Sunglasses. Participants will compete for a grand selection of cash and valuable prizes in the following categories: Pop, Rock, Country, Gospel, Latin/World, Jazz, and R&B/Rap. According to the official site, eight Grand Prize winners will receive “The Excellence in Songwriting Award, New Digidesign Mbox with Pro Tools LE, Epiphone Guitar with hard shell case, one year subscription to Billboard Magazine, one year subscription to TAXI – the independent A&R company, a copy of Indie Band Manager for Mac/PC, BluBlocker Sunglasses, and Elixir strings from Gore.” There will be eight Second Place winners, and eight Third Place winners, as well as other prizes distributed among the top 1500 songwriters and the Top Three in each category. Winning songs will then be presented to industry professionals for their consideration. To check out last year’s winners, visit

It is not necessary to present studio quality tapes, but each entry must be submitted separately by mail. Applications are online and may be printed out and reproduced to send with each entry. The fee per entry is $30 U.S., but artists with entries postmarked by September 15, 2002 (“early birds”) may submit a single song to one additional category by writing the second category for consideration in the upper left corner of the application form. That’s two chances to be considered, for those songs that could function well under more than one genre.


Industry professionals on the judging panel will evaluate each song, with the results being sent back to each entrant. Adjudicators will also offer suggestions on composition and content. The top 1500 songwriters will recieve honorable mention certificates. Whether you are a good singer or not, whether you have access to a recording studio or not, do your best; after all, the contest is for songwriters! Only those who have averaged less than 5K per year in songwriting royalties and prize winnings since 1999 are eligible to participate. Enter each song in as many categories as you feel they will be appropriate, but each submittal must be accompanied by its own entry form and fee, with the only exception being one song meeting the early bird requirements, above.
Note: Now referred to as the Starmaker Award, contact details as below:

Phone – (918) 628-0400
Email –