24-hour Songathon competition will showcase local musicians in SoHo

A songwriting competition that stretches over 24 hours is coming to SoHo during New York Music Month. 
A songwriting competition that stretches over 24 hours is coming to SoHo during New York Music Month.  Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Calling all musicians: a 24-hour songwriting competition is coming to SoHo, and it’s exactly as it sounds.

The third Songathon event since 2018 invites 36 songwriters and musicians to compete for the chance to perform in front of a live audience and win potentially career-making prizes. It takes over Galvanize, a coworking space on Spring Street, on June 29 and 30 during New York Music Month

Noah Hyams, a Greenwich Village musician, created Songathon to highlight the “overlooked” community of songwriters in New York City.

Songwriters “are the unsung heroes of the music industry,” Hyams, 26, says. “They are, unfortunately, not really given their fair due, and we hope to celebrate them through Songathon.”

During the event, the writers split into 12 groups to create original songs in teams. They’ll each fight the clock during two 12-hour sessions where teams will be assigned individual conference rooms to work on their songs.

As if creating a song and performing it in front of a live audience hours later wasn’t stressful enough, Hyams puts a unique twist on each event he hosts. The teams will also need to incorporate a prompt into their work. At the first ever Songathon, the prompt was “taxi cab,” but this year’s is yet to be announced.

“As a professional songwriter, very often you’ll find yourself in situations where you’re writing and working with people who you’ve never met. There’s pressure, and you’re being expected to perform and crank out hits,” Hyams says. “It’s important to have that experience early on in a collaborative environment so that when the day comes, they’re ready.”

Songathon puts a focus on the collaborative process behind music making in NYC. 
Songathon puts a focus on the collaborative process behind music making in NYC.  Photo Credit: Monique Muse

The writing and finale concert event will take place at Galvanize, where songwriting and producing professionals will also mentor the teams during 15-minute drop-in feedback sessions. The collaborative element of Songathon is vital to the event, according to Songathon co-founder Amber Ward, 24, of Greenwich Village.

“We know that access to these mentors is not necessarily something that’s readily available,” Ward says. “So, we want during the event for our songwriters to ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask and to get real answers and feedback.”

The 36 Songathon participants were selected from more than 300 applicants. They were chosen based upon their previous collaboration experience and song submissions. Despite the competitive element of Songathon, the point is for writers to meet, connect and potentially work together on future projects.

“It’s a gathering of the minds, it really brings people that are leaders in this field together in one room,” Hyams says. “There’s nothing that beats being in the same room and just the vibe and the energy. Everybody knows they’ve been hand selected to be there.”

Networking opportunities like Songathon are especially useful in New York City, where the songwriting scene can feel fragmented compared to a city like Nashville or Los Angeles, according to Ward. The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment is eager to help establish New York City as a music hub and is supporting Songathon by covering the event’s $160 application fee, so that New Yorkers can sing for free. 

“I think it gives an opportunity for these songwriters to connect and feel like they exist,” Hyams says. “Then also bringing in the public right for the finale, we want to invite New Yorkers to come and see what’s being created in their city.”

The Songathon songwriters will have to get through a panel of judges to win the grand prize, a lunch meeting with Sony/ATV’s Head of East Coast A&R. But, they’ll also have to impress audience members who vote on who wins the audience-choice prize.

“I think everyone at the event leaves feeling like they won,” Ward says. “You walk away with an entire network of people you can write with in the future.” 

This year’s Songathon is on June 29 and 30. To stop by the grand finale performance on June 30, reserve your free tickets here