Music-making contests are a valuable way to challenge your production skills and pique your creativity—whether you're participating in a remix contest, songwriting challenge or beat-making battle.
Music, of course, is not a competition—but sometimes challenging yourself to create something that’ll get honest feedback is a great way to overcome writer's block and build your confidence.
And, because contests usually draw audiences from the combined fans of every producer or songwriter participating in the event, applying to make a song, remix or beat can be useful for getting your songs in front of new fans.
So if you’re interested in participating in a remix contest, or some other kind of songwriting event, let's take a look at a few tips and tricks and highlight some favorite competition hosts to check out!
Music is not a competition but sometimes challenging yourself to create something that’ll get honest feedback is a great way to build your confidence.
What is a remix contest?
A remix contest is a competition between two or more producers to create an original remix that will be either be judged by a panel or voted on by the public.
Remix contests come in a variety of shapes and sizes—they can be a sample flip challenge where the producer is tasked with morphing a given sample into an entirely new sound.
Or they can be timed events where producers need to create a beat within a specific period of time.
Other remix contests ask producers to create a remix of an existing pop song—or to remix the stems of an unfinished song.
As a rule, most remix contests or beat-making contests will give the competition field a starting point in the form of a sample, stems or entire song with the challenge of creating something new with the source material.
Difference between a remix contest and a songwriting contest
Remix contests and songwriting contests are similar in that they challenge artists to create something unique that is then judged and critiqued by either the public or a panel.
But, song writing contests generally include a lyrical component with singing and often will allow the participants to share their own original work or they’ll have some kind of prompt for the lyrical content instead of using stems or a sample as the starting point.
How to participate in a remix contest
Getting feedback on your work is always a nerve-wracking experience, especially if its in a competitive format.
But, hearing and responding to feedback is super important for growing your skills, confidence and taste as an artist.
Getting feedback on your work is always a nerve-wracking experience. But, it's important for growing your skills
To help you feel ready to dive into a competitive music-making event, here’s a few tips and tricks to keep in mind.
Find the right contest for you
There’s many different kinds of contests so make sure you know what you’re getting into.
Sample flip challenges for example lend themselves more towards beat makers who know their way around a sampler, while some remix contests might be more DJ oriented.
Other contests may require you to work with specific gear, plugins or DAWs—so you’ll need to make sure you’re reasonably proficient with whatever gear or software is required.
Remember to have a fairly clear idea of what genre you’re best at producing and check what style of sound the contest organizers are looking for.
Check the fine print too, some contests may be only open to certain areas, require you to have a certain number of followers or have rules about how to participate and how the contest works.
Being clear on what’s expected in the contest will ensure that there’s no surprises after the competition ends and it’ll help you know what to expect going in.
Analyze the original track
Once you’re in the contest, spend a good amount of time analyzing the original source track.
That means paying attention to the mix, noting arrangement details, listening for sections that pique your ear, identifying lyrics you like and generally gaining a grasp of what’s happening in the music.
If you’re working out of a DAW project, consider dropping the track into the timeline and marking each section with time stamps—this can help with identifying different sections within the song’s structure.
If possible, take your time with it—go for a walk with headphones on, do some active listening and really get into the track.
Learn to work with stems and samples
Since most beat-making challenges and remix contests revolve around a sample or a set of stems, it’s important to know your way around these kinds of audio files.
If the contest requires you to remix a set of stems, make sure you know how to import stems into your project, label them, edit them and mix them into whatever sounds you’re adding.
It’s also valuable to know how to set up various busses for different groups of stems like drums, guitars, basses, synths, vocals and whatever other groups you can think of.
For sample flip contests you should definitely brush up on sample flipping techniques like sample chopping, sample slicing, sound design, effects chains, sidechaining and more.
Having a set of pre-made effect racks set up in your DAW can help you save time and have a better idea of what you can do with any sample before going in.
Think outside the box
Your remix or beat won’t stand out if it sounds cookie-cutter and uninspired.
Be yourself and have fun with it instead, this is the fun part! It’s your chance to be creative and show the world what you got.
Try venturing into some interesting sound design territory, bend the samples into a new genre, try out some unique arrangement ideas or add some interesting instruments.
If you know how to play an instrument, sing or rap definitely consider incorporating that into your new version of the track too.
Put some time into putting yourself, your soul, your essence and your being into the track and the audience and judges will certainly notice.
Have fun with it
Beat-making challenges and remix contests should be fun. You should take your art seriously, but don’t get too bogged down with details.
Competitions like these are excellent for challenging yourself, trying new things and experimenting.
So don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and have fun!
The 5 best remix contests to compete in
If you’re not sure where to get started with registering and competing in a remix contest or beat-making challenges, here’s a few platforms that regularly host them.
LANDR Challenges is a brand new series of music-making competitions that are hosted via LANDR’s Collab tools platform.
With LANDR Challenges an established host artist shares a selection of unfinished stems, inviting participants to take their ideas and something new and original.
To win you must upload the new track and encourage your fans, friends and family to vote for it.
The top fan-voted tracks will make it into the final round where the host artist will decide which track is the winner to ultimately co-release.
Here’s where LANDR Challenges makes itself a bit more unique from the crowd—if your fans vote for your track and it wins, they’ll have a chance at winning a percentage of ownership of the song.
Of course, you and the host will own the majority of the release—so you’ll be there to reap the rewards if your song blows up.
But, what better way to encourage your fans to vote for your track than to offer them the opportunity to win a small piece of the ownership pie!
In a LANDR Challenge, if your fans vote for your track and it wins they’ll have a chance at winning a small percentage of ownership of the song.
The top three finalists will also win a care package from Shure Microphones and a year's subscription to LANDR Studio.
2. Kenny Beats
As part of his channel, he hosts regular beat-making battles that subscribers can take part in via his website and through his discord.
As part of his channel, he hosts regular beat-making challenges that subscribers can take part in via his Discord channel.
Typically Kenny Beats contests revolve around a sample flip or some selection of stems.
To participate head over to his Twitch Channel or join his Discord.
SKIO is a remix challenge platform that is regularly hosting events.In general, it seems to serve the EDM bracket of producers, so if you’re into electronic music production this could be an excellent platform to check out.
Prizes appear to consist of various plugins and hardware from their sponsors.
They have lots of remix competitions and beat-making contests happening at any given time so be sure to check it out.
Aside from Kenny Beats there are so many YouTubers hosting beat-making challenges.
It makes sense since remix contests are an excellent way to engage subscribers while also creating new content.
So make sure to subscribe to your favorite music production YouTube accounts and keep up with them to see if there’s any opportunities to participate in a contest.
Metapop is another platform that’s very similar to SKIO and others.
It regularly hosts beat-making challenges and remix contests, with prizes offered by its partners and sponsors.
The platform also has a section for sharing tracks with other creators for feedback and audience building.
Similar to both Metapop and SKIO, Kreasound is another music production competition hub that regularly hosts events.
You’ll find all kinds of remix contests, beat-making challenges, songwriting contests and more.
So if you’re looking for another platform to duke it out with other producers, stop by Kreasound.
Music is not a competition
But, there’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself to make better beats and find inspiration from other producers.
In fact, these contests are super valuable for building your music production skills, meeting other producers and growing your fanbase.
So if participating in these challenges interests you, don’t be afraid to give it a try—who knows you might win some free swag and take home a major win!