The Prompt Is Live!

Today, you join over 860 Philly songwriters transforming the prompt “SUMMERTIME” into a new song within 24 hours! We put together some helpful suggestions for the stages of the creative process. Do you need to use these ideas? Absolutely not! Everyone has their own way of plucking a new song from the ether. However, if you would like a little support, here’s a framework that takes you from the prompt, through writing, into iterating, and recording. But remember, no one songwriter follows the same process. Feel free to mix it up and follow your own muse! This prompt is a starting point—feel free to interpret it in any way that sparks your creativity. Whether literal or abstract, your unique take is what we’re excited to hear. Here are a few ways to sit with the prompt:

  1. Interpret Freely
  • Freewrite: Spend the first few moments freewriting about what summertime means to you. Is it a feeling, a memory, a scene, or maybe a combination of these? Jot down whatever comes to mind without filtering or judging your thoughts.
  • Explore Your Senses: Think about your most vivid summer memories. What sounds, sights, and smells are most evocative of summertime for you? Imagine the melody of summer. What comes to mind? Write it down.
  • Play with perspective: Who’s summer is it? What’s an unusual or seldom-discussed aspect of summer? Where is summertime to you? Is it the quiet of a city at dawn before the heat sets in? The nocturnal life of summer insects in the wild woods? Spend some time writing it all down without worrying if it’s a song or not.

2. Refine your ideas

  • Develop Your Hook: Look back at your freewrite. What stands out to you? What immediately brings more ideas to mind? Maybe there’s a hook in there. Your hook doesn’t have to be lyrical, it can be a melody that grabs people’s attention, too. 
  • Start to Structure: Begin thinking about the form of your song—will it be verse-chorus-verse, a ballad, or something more experimental? 
  • Play with the Palette: Don’t be afraid to mix genres, use unconventional instruments. Experimentation can lead to innovation.

3. Iterate

  • Sketch Out Your Song: Start laying down the bones of your song. This could involve mapping out the lyrics, chorus, and bridge, playing with a chord progression, or singing lines you wrote over a drum track. Remember, your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect; it just needs to capture the essence of your ideas.
  • Refine Lyrics and Melody: Look for places where the connection between your lyrics and melody could be stronger. Do the lines of your song support the overall theme and feel emotionally true? Do you want them to? 
  • Solicit Feedback: If possible, play your song draft for a friend or fellow artist. Fresh ears might catch something you missed and provide quick feedback that can be invaluable.
  • Final Touches: As the song begins to take shape, play it through a few times, record it and listen back, then make adjustments as needed. Keep refining your song until it feels right to you, but also remember to keep an eye on the clock to ensure you’re giving yourself enough time.

4. Recording

  • Prep Your Space: Ensure your recording environment is ready. Check your equipment and minimize background noise to maintain sound quality.
  • Keep It Simple: Given the time constraint, aim for a clean, simple take. If you’re layering tracks, keep it manageable.
  • Review and Adjust: After recording, listen to your track. You might notice small tweaks that can be made—perhaps a vocal adjustment or a quick remix to balance the sound. Adjust the dynamics and tempo as needed. Sometimes, small changes in how a song is played can make a big difference in how it feels.

5. Upload

  • Give yourself enough time! Remember that your video will need to upload to YouTube, You’ll write a description of the song on YouTube, and then make sure your YouTube link is publicly sharable. Then fill out the submission form.
  • Process for Submission
    • Upload your song to YouTube
    • Login to your account on Click the red button to reveal the submission form.
    • Upload your YouTube link to the form twice (The first field is for your profile account, and the second for the public-facing Watch page.)
    • Fill out the submission details in the form: songwriter name(s), performer name(s), lyrics, etc.
    • Click “Update Profile” You’ll be able to edit your submission profile for the 24 hours the contest is live. Once the contest period ends, all submissions will be publicly viewable.

Remember, this isn’t just an opportunity to create, but to enjoy the process and connect with your fellow songwriters on social. We can’t wait to listen to your songs and celebrate with you!