Eurovision Song Contest

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Jul 15, 2017, 03:11 PM

Has anybody here ever participated in the Eurovision Song Contest? I’d like to know if anyone can share some tips/advice.

All the best
Robert

 
     
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Robert Baitinger Joined Jun 01, 2006
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Jul 15, 2017, 06:08 PM

Have you been invited to participate, Robert? What an accomplishment that would be. Loved “Amar pelo dois.” Such a sweet song. Best of luck with it.
Jen

https://soundcloud.com/jennystokes-nz
http://www.evansandstokes.com

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”
- Bob Marley

 
     
Jenny Stokes Joined Sep 24, 2015
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Jul 17, 2017, 02:14 AM

Hey Jenny,
thanks! You don’t need an invitation to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. Most countries have Internet portals where songwriters can upload their songs. It’s easy. Many countries are already accepting songs for next year’s event.

All the best
Robert

 
     
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Robert Baitinger Joined Jun 01, 2006
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Jul 17, 2017, 02:50 AM

Most countries have a national ... let´s say.. competition/or national finals, where they try to find the right artist with the right song. So most artists are asked to bring along their own songs… some other countries are looking for an artist and the song seperatly. Couple of years ago, when Lena won the competion for Germany… she decided to compete in the competition the following year ... so, the Germans were just looking for a song for her. it was reported, that they received more then 500 entries..

In the last decades the “Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson” went through some major changes. Started 1956, as an idea to bring together the countries in war-torn europe, it all started as a competition for songwriters and composers. Not for artists. Until the mid 90th the music was played live by a band/orchestra. Nowadays there is no live music anymore. Only the lead vocals are sung live…

And right now the artist is kind of the “center” of the show. In the “old days” the “winning throphy” was handed over to the winning composer live on stage (for beeing a competition for songwriters/composers) . Now - on stage - it´s hand over to the artist and afterwards send to the winning composer via mail… :)

...every once in a while, I get in the mood or so…and start to play..

http://www.songcycle.org

 
     
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Martin G Joined May 27, 2009
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Jul 18, 2017, 01:51 AM

Hi Martin,
almost every country handles the way they find their song for the event differently. Some countries actually do look just for a song. Others want a “package”: a song with an artist or a band. The song from Lena that won a few years ago was written by an American songwriter and produced in Holland. The most famous previous winners of the contest were ABBA back in 1974. You are right that nowadays the main focus is on the artist, but it is still a songwriting contest. After the show the songwriters get to keep the trophy. And they also get to collect their royalties.

All the best
Robert

[ Edited: 21 July 2017 01:39 AM by Robert Baitinger]
 
     
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Robert Baitinger Joined Jun 01, 2006
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Jul 18, 2017, 02:27 AM
Robert Baitinger - 18 July 2017 01:51 AM

Hi Martin,
The song from Lena that won a few years ago was written by an American songwriter and produced in Holland. Robert

Yeah, “Satelite” was a classical “Internet collaboration” between American songwriter Julie Frost and the Danish Songwriter/Producer John Gordan. and as much as I know, the first song she ever published?

After winning the trophy Frost was suddenly in the “big game” .. in the following years she co-wrote Songs with the Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Madonna, Marina and the Diamonds… and many more… so she had a couple of hits

 

And for the fans of history: here you can find a video with all winners from 1956 til today. Most profiled winners were Abba, Celine Dion and Katharina & the Waves
https://youtu.be/n1TOpqv9jLo

[ Edited: 18 July 2017 02:49 PM by Martin G]

...every once in a while, I get in the mood or so…and start to play..

http://www.songcycle.org

 
     
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Martin G Joined May 27, 2009
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Jul 20, 2017, 04:19 PM

Thanks for that trip down memory lane, Martin. In general, it’s my view that the Eurovision Song Contest consists of a largely successful attempt to assemble a giant turd entirely out of sound. I can still smell some of the winners I just heard on the Youtube video. And those are the winners!

But there are some gems in there too. Not just catchy numbers like “Puppet on a String” and “J’Aime la Vie,” but the occasional simple song like Dana’s “All Kinds of Everything” or Nicole’s “Ein Bißchen Frieden.” These really stand out against the background of twirling nincompoops.

Robert, if you can put together a halfway decent song, I see no reason at all why you shouldn’t win the bloody thing. I will be rooting for you.

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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Jul 21, 2017, 02:01 AM

Hi Gavin,
yeah, there were a couple of songs in Martin’s video there that I liked a lot. I loved the choreography on “Save Your Kisses For Me”. That’s what you need to win a songwriting contest :) !

A guy from Sweden recently sent me a song lyric that was really good. I then composed a catchy tune to go along with it. I then turned to a 20-year old DJ to get an instrumental playback that didn’t sound as outdated as what I’ve been recording myself these past years. The instrumental he created was absolutely breathtaking. Our idea was to get so-called reference vocals and submit the song to as many countries as possible. Any country interested in the song could replace the reference vocals with the voice of a local singer. The plan sounded good and that’s how many songwriters have been successful in the ESC in the past. Well, we now have the reference vocals – lead and backing vocals - and they sound so awesome and they are so complex that we don’t think that anybody can replace them adequately. So, what do we do now? We have a monster of a song that is 100% ESC worthy. What we need is a country willing to accept foreign songwriters (that’s not a problem) as well as a foreign vocalist. I was kind of hoping someone here at this sight might have already participated and could share their previous experiences.

All the best
Robert


http://www.robertbaitinger.de

 
     
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Robert Baitinger Joined Jun 01, 2006
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Jul 21, 2017, 02:26 AM

You two have good taste. I like “All kinds of everything” by Dana and “Save your kisses for me”.

Winning the Eurovision Song Contest? Well, there are 7 steps you have to follow. Then it should work out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv6tgnx6jTQ


I do remember the 1990th when Ireland won 3 times in a row. The winning country always has to host the whole competetion. And has to spend a lot of money. I do remember, after hosting the Eurovision 3 times in a row the RTE (Irish TV Station) almost went bankrupt… so they sent out an unknown artist with no realistic chance to win… the following year they decided to take the competition more seriously again… and won again…

Irish Johnny Logan is the only person who won the competition 3 times. As performer (1980, 1987) and composer (1992).
Austria won it 2 times until now :)

...every once in a while, I get in the mood or so…and start to play..

http://www.songcycle.org

 
     
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Martin G Joined May 27, 2009
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Jul 21, 2017, 03:52 AM

Hey Martin,
thanks for posting this video. It was very amusing but I’m not sure how useful it is. As far as I know, none of the previous winning songs complied with all of these 7 points.

I wrote down the seven steps and reflected which ones we fulfill with our song.

1.  Majestic intro
We have a mesmerizing intro that grabs everyone’s attention from the very first second.

2.  Drums
We have drums, loads of drums, big drums, typical ESC-sounding drums

3.  Use an old traditional instrument
I’m not sure this one is really essential. We don’t have any country traditional instruments since we don’t have a country yet. A lot of songs have won in the past without traditional instruments.

4.  Play a violin
We didn’t record any solo violins, but we have strings, lots of strings, a complete orchestra with strings and a brass section.

5.  Bring in a DJ
The producer is a DJ.

6.  Costumes - look memorable
I personally think this point should be called “live song presentation”. You need to entertain the audience as best as possible during your 3-minute time slot. Grab their attention visually. Costumes play a big role. But you also need a singer/band with a voice. We have the singer but I don’t think it’s our job to define costumes, stage design and things like that.

7.  A song that everyone can connect to
We have a song that has multiple references to one of the greatest movies of all time that probably everybody has seen and can relate to.

We already have the song that fulfills all the ESC requirements. I guess what I would really like to know is what is important when we submit the song. Do we just upload the MP3? Or would a press kit maybe increase our chances since we have individuals in our team with a proven track record.

All the best
Robert

[ Edited: 21 July 2017 08:23 AM by Robert Baitinger]
 
     
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Robert Baitinger Joined Jun 01, 2006
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Jul 21, 2017, 10:38 AM
Martin G - 21 July 2017 02:26 AM

You two have good taste. I like “All kinds of everything” by Dana and “Save your kisses for me”.

Winning the Eurovision Song Contest? Well, there are 7 steps you have to follow. Then it should work out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv6tgnx6jTQ


I do remember the 1990th when Ireland won 3 times in a row. The winning country always has to host the whole competetion. And has to spend a lot of money. I do remember, after hosting the Eurovision 3 times in a row the RTE (Irish TV Station) almost went bankrupt… so they sent out an unknown artist with no realistic chance to win… the following year they decided to take the competition more seriously again… and won again…

Irish Johnny Logan is the only person who won the competition 3 times. As performer (1980, 1987) and composer (1992).
Austria won it 2 times until now :)

Martin, that video is hilarious and spot on! It seems that other countries, besides Britain, have begun to realize the glorious absurdity of the spectacle. Sometime in the 1980s, the late, great Terry Wogan started providing a commentary for the BBC full of gentle sarcasm and people started watching the contest again just to laugh at his quips. The rest of Europe, with the exception of Ireland, continued to miss the joke and take it seriously, dissolving into a quagmire of political voting. In 2009, Wogan was succeeded by another Irishman, Graham Norton, who continued the tradition of affectionately ridiculing the event. You can hear some of it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eU5fnxmxBjs

A couple of my favorite remarks:

She can do extraordinary things with her voice. Not pleasant things, but extraordinary. If you’ve got dogs or small children in the room, you may want to place them out of earshot.”

“Soluna was previously a busker. She may be again.”

“They’re a perfect fit for Eurovision, but, seriously, where the hell else could Mandinga perform?”

And yes, Ireland’s inability to stop winning and having to host it the next year became the subject of many jokes, and an entire episode of that wonderful sitcom, “Father Ted” centered on their attempt to avoid winning by selecting the worst song possible, sung by a couple of priests. The result was “My Lovely Horse,” which, because of the popularity of the sitcom is better known in Ireland and the UK than most winners of the contest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTo18xUHpxs

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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Jul 21, 2017, 10:47 AM

Robert, my inability to stop being an insufferable smart-#### and take the Eurovision Song Contest totally seriously as a viewer doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate its importance to a songwriter and the magnitude of your achievement if you manage to win it or even get your song selected by one of the countries. I will be seriously impressed - not to mention envious - if you manage to pull this off.

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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Jul 21, 2017, 10:35 PM
Robert Baitinger - 21 July 2017 03:52 AM

We already have the song that fulfills all the ESC requirements. I guess what I would really like to know is what is important when we submit the song. Do we just upload the MP3? Or would a press kit maybe increase our chances since we have individuals in our team with a proven track record.

All the best
Robert

Hi Robert. While I have no idea what the requirements are for making a submission to ESC, I do know about making them to broadcasters having had several discussions (over beers at a pub) with a nz-based broadcaster on the issue. Because there are 100s of submissions, you need to make yours stand out. A reviewer will often not listen to all of the songs. They are more likely to sift through them and select the ones that stand out. So, your submission should look professional. It should be eye-grabbing yet tasteful. Also, try to avoid cliches with your imagery. The anecdote about cliches that I was given was (paraphrasing here): “for instance, if I receive a stack of heavy metal submissions, I will sift through them and throw away the ones that show that no effort was put into their presentation. I will then reduce the pile further by removing the cliche (read unimaginative) artwork (e.g., those that have black and red cover art never get a look). Those are the criteria I use for metal submissions. I would have a different set of criteria for another genre. This is just the method I use. Other broadcasters will have a different approach, but we all cull before we listen”

He also said that the submission needs to be straightforward. There shouldn’t be and gimmicks that make the music difficult to get at (e.g., folder within a folder; click this, click that).

Hope that helps, Robert.
Jen

https://soundcloud.com/jennystokes-nz
http://www.evansandstokes.com

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”
- Bob Marley

 
     
Jenny Stokes Joined Sep 24, 2015
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Jul 24, 2017, 01:46 AM

Hi Jen,
thanks for your advice. Years ago I would send my latest songs on a CD to radio stations and labels and back then I followed the recommendations you made here.

With the ESC song submission it’s different. Here, for example, you can find the rules and regulations for a song submission in Sweden:
http://www.svtstatic.se/image-cms/svtse/1497604984/melodifestivalen/article14138420.svt/BINARY/För fullständigt regelverk på engelska för Melodifestivalen 2018 klicka här.pdf

And here is an example of a submission page. In Denmark you can already submit your songs:
http://esctoday.com/136459/denmark-submissions-open-dmgp-2017/

As you can see, you can only upload your mp3 file. There’s no folder, no artwork, nothing eye-grabbing that you can add. Is there any way to make your submission special? I mean besides the music. The only thing I could identify so far is a field where you can add comments and I was thinking of sending them a short bio or something like that.

I was hoping someone here had been successful in the past and could share some advice.

All the best
Robert

 
     
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Robert Baitinger Joined Jun 01, 2006
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Jul 24, 2017, 09:34 AM

Anytime you are involved in a contest, you need to understand that the people reviewing those songs are INNUNDATED WITH THOUSANDS OF SONGS. I have been involved in a ton of contests, THE JOHN LENNON contests, NSAI contests, etc. It is basically one of the most drudgery things you can ever imagine. Hundreds upon hundreds of submissions, CD’s, Internet links, etc. You get a sense of them pretty quickly.

At first you are listening to the whole songs. You do that for about 9 or 10. Then you are going to a verse and a chorus. After a while, you are listening to the intro, reading the lyrics, and you can pretty much tell where they are going immediately. You get a sense of what the industry goes through every day. When you have 200-300 songs to go through, also doing your day job work, or other things, getting paid either nothing or very little, you only can do so much.

Most of the songs are downright terrible. They don’t fit formats, the demos are almost impossible to listen to. The intros often go on for 20-30 seconds. The verses go on even longer. You can almost tell from the first line if they know what they are doing or not. The titles give them away. You will see the same title fifty or sixty times. You will hear out of tune vocals, really bad home recordings, that you can’t make out a word. Or the words you can make out, you really don’t want to. You hear half the songs that are simply rip offs from current songs or are exactly the same as some classic song on the radio you grew up with. There are “technical songs” that sound like 70’s disco, or some one who has run amok with their computer programs. Songs that are dirty and you wouldn’t play them for your mother. Songs that make no point, have no direction, have messages that are frankly insulting. Songs that are insulting to women, other races, pro or negative countries, political points of view, some that are just trying to tweak the listener and tick them off.

And then there are the ANGER, NEGATIVITY, DEPRESSION, BITTERNESS. After a few dozen of those, you begin to worry about the sanity of the writers or your own. It is kind of like that scene in “A CLOCKWORK ORANGE” where Malcom McDowell’s eyes are pried open to watch violent videos of death, torture, maiming. It is really kind of scary. The women are all ACSS (Angry Chick Singer Syndrome) or guys with DDSS (Depressed DUDE SINGER SYNDROME). You find yourself getting depressed and just want to NOT TO HAVE TO LISTEN TO ANY SONGS.

About every 40 or 50th song you can actually get THROUGH. Most of the rest, especially those that have the clever packaging that Jenny is describing here, you immediately might as well throw away. The more clever the package, the worse the product. You get immune to the little begging letters and you also see the same names over and over and over. People who do contests will submit ten or fifteen songs each. And they are all pretty weak.

Most [rofessional, competitive or knowlegable writers shy away from contests completely, because they know there has never been a hit song to come out of a contest and that even winning is fleeting as they are always on to the next contest. Even adding things to the resume (and having won a few myself I can tell you, there is not a lot to it, other than some temporary things, and a pat on the back. Most of it is very demeaning. And if you have had major cuts or actually involved professionally in the industry, you are usually disqualified in the first place.
Once, in being part of the award winning presentation for an NSAI contest, they had to disqualify one person because they had gotten a major cut between submitting and the finals of the contest. Not a great thing if you have spent a lot of money to get to Nashville and then told you are ineligible. And then their major cut got dropped also, so they ended up with nothing. Never put your eggs in one basket.

Robert, how to make your songs stand out? MAKE THEM SHORT! Shorter intros, actually the LESS the intro, the better, get your “magic” up front, make sure the recording will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF. Might as well ignore that “We don’t care about the sound of the demo” stuff because that is bull. When you go through 150-200 songs in a setting, taking about 3 hours, ALL YOU LISTEN TO IS THE QUALITY OF THE RECORDING. And you see a repeating process,that the ones that are better recorded, are usually the best songs, because those writers know the “rules of the road.”

We have a rule in Nashville. “DON’T BORE US, GET TO THE CHORUS.” If you can get to your hook within about 45 seconds, you will be doing better than most. Finish a song in under 3 minutes, and you just made the top 50.

Contests are fine for bragging rights, certificates, a pat on the back and some positive elements for the participants, mostly understand what makes songs work and what doesn’t. If you can, when it’s over, try to listen to the top ten songs. And find out what has worked in the past. If you are going to do it, do it well.

Good luck.
MAB

 
     
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Marc-Alan Barnette Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Jul 24, 2017, 10:13 AM

All good advice, MAB, but understand that the ESC is not like the contests you describe. It is a major public event, not just the finals but, in some cases, the individual countries’ selection processes. The finals are watched by over 200 million people, not counting online. Major hits have come from it. Major stars have sung in it - Celine Dionne, Cliff Richard, Lulu - and it has made stars of unknown singers, whether international (ABBA) or more regional (Dana, Sandra Kim). It’s a glorious exercise in over-the-top kitsch, enjoyable sincerely, ironically or both. Winning this thing is not just an exercise in self-affirmation and plaque-winning.

Residents of some countries actually get quite worked up about winning it and what points they got from others. Voting patterns can reflect traditional alliances or antipathies - Greece and Turkey are not likely to give each other many votes, Serbia will favor Russia, Cyprus will favor Greece, nobody will favor the UK, who often had the best song with little hope of winning. Everybody loves the Irish. It’s an international pie-fight and that drama is part of what attracts viewers. And, as 2014 showed, it’s not over until the bearded lady sings.

Having said that, most of the entrants that make it to the finals are awful. Goodness knows what kind of stuff is filtered out earlier on. Your 3 minute rule definitely applies because I think that is the maximum song length. In most cases, that is quite enough.

One other rule has been to make the words as easy to understand as possible for non-native speakers. Thus you have choruses like “My heart goes boom-bang-a-bang, boom-bang-a-bang” (Lulu) or even just “La, la, la” (a Spanish winner that beat out Cliff Richard).

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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