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Official Rules and Guidelines of the


Contestants will submit and on-line application with lyrics and one YouTube link containing a performance of the composition you wish to submit.  The videos must be recorded during this Covid-19 quarantine. Videos recorded before the Covid-19 quarantine will not be allowed.

The submitted song must be performed by (1) one vocalist and (1) one instrument. The vocalist and the instrument player can be the same person.  

The Songwriter may select another person to either sing or play the song while observing social distancing or via Zoom, Acapella, or other performance based apps.


To be eligible, all entries must:

  1. Finish the online registration.

  2. Not contain explicit lyrics

  3. Not be deemed offensive by the judges

  4. Be a clear performance that exhibits both effort and skill

  5. Be an original song composed by the writer, who has full rights to publish the recording

  6. Have the majority of the lyrics in English

7. Songs may be any length, but live performance of the song can not exceed four minutes. 

8. Only one entry per songwriter.



HOW TO ENTER. An online registration for the writer of the song.  We do not accept mail-in entries.



The Contest is open to any amateur songwriter.  An amateur is defined as songwriter who has not earned more than $5,000 from songwriting related royalties, advances, or works for hire. *Any TBFC Board member, independent contractors for TBFC and their immediate families or employees of sponsors are not eligible. 

*The is not applicable to the Virtual Contest: Gimme Shelter (in place.)



All entries must be the original work of contestant. 

Contestant may enter only one song. (In future years we will consider multiple entries.) 

All applicable U.S. copyright laws apply, and all rights to submitted material remain entirely with the copyright holder. TBFC acquires no rights to any works submitted.


The Carl Gage Songwriter Contest is a talent and skilled-based event. All entries are judged based on the quality of the lyrics and the musical composition. 

All judges are prominent musicians, radio hosts, music instructors, and music industry professionals. All entries will be judged on originality, lyrics, composition, melody and the song’s overall craft. The judging criteria includes: 1) Theme: How well the song/lyrics communicate an underlying message or emotion.  2) Style/Delivery: How well the melody and expression transform the lyrics into an effective performance.

All decisions by judges are final and not subject to inquiry or appeal. 



Your electronic entry form constitutes that the song submitted is an original work and releases the TBFC Songwriting Contest, its judges, sponsors, and the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest & Folk Festival from all liability. Entry also constitutes permission to use winner’s name, photos, videos and likeness for future advertising and publicity without compensation. By entering, entrants agree that they have no right to bring, and covenant not to bring any claim, action, or proceeding of any kind or nature whatsoever against TBFC, or any other sponsoring organization or judge in connection with this competition.

By submitting, you are agreeing that you are an amateur as described above and that you are not employed by or affiliated with TBFC or any of the contest sponsors and that you have not received any income from TBFC in the past two years. If you are under 18 years of age, you must have permission and clearance to enter the Contest from your parent or legal guardian.



The winning song will win:  $300, a free recording of the winning entry at Rum & Humble Studios in Los Angeles, a live performance on the Wildwood Flower Radio Hour on KXLU. Performance will be posted on the official TBFC YouTube channel.

Our deep thank you to the Songmakers for sponsoring this contest.

Carl Gage
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