Edinburgh Folk Club - Annual Songwriting Competition

We hold an annual competition where musicians can perform an original, unpublished song, up to four minutes in length at Edinburgh Folk Club, Ukrainian Community Centre, 14 Royal Terrace EH7 5AB. You pay the £5 entry fee on the night.

Prizes are awarded on the night for the best songs, in the opinion of the judges based on the criteria below, and an extra prize is voted for by the audience.


 MAY 2025 - To Be confirmed




Rules and Advice


Submit by: TBC

  • Send us an email with the subject line: Edinburgh FC songwriting competition entry,
  • and the following in the body of the email :
  1. The lyrics of your song
  2. The date it was completed or first performed, and any other copyright information
  3. The full name(s) of the writer(s). (For co-writers, the first named is the "lead author")
  4. The name(s) of the performer(s) on the night
  5. Contact details for the “lead author” including
    1. Email address
    2. Postal address
    3. Phone number

Do not send attachments, nor links to online recordings.

This information will be stored in accordance with GDPR for the duration of the competition and to provide feedback afterwards.


  1. All entries must be submitted by email, as described above. Late or incomplete entries will not be accepted
  2. Each entry will be allocated a performance slot and informed by email by TBC. If too many entries have been received, the organisers reserve the right to select entries, and will advise any rejection no later than TBC.
  3. The song must have been written no earlier than 1st January 2020. If you have substantially adapted an earlier unfinished song, please indicate the new content made after the above date
  4. The words of the song must be original. If your song is a pastiche of another song, indicate the source and whether it is still under copyright.
  5. The tune may be an existing traditional tune (“public domain”), but not a melody still under copyright
  6. The song must not have been placed first, second or third in any other competition, nor have been commercially released (sold in shops or online).
  7. Only one song can be entered per entrant. If you have a co-writer(s) a different person must be named as “lead author” for a second song.
  8. The entrant must perform the song on the night of the competition, or make their own arrangements for another singer to do so. The performers must arrive, and make themselves known to the MC, by 7.45pm
  9. Each performer must pay £5 entry on the evening.
  10. The performers must each submit, by email before the competition, up to 40 words to introduce themselves and/or their song. These words will be read out by the MC, while the performer is plugging in instruments, adjusting microphones etc. Note that time is tight: please do not add any further introductions on the night.
  11. Five minutes are allocated for each performer on the night, One minute for changeover and intro, four minutes for the song. If a song exceeds this, then you may be asked to stop.
  12. The judges' decision on the night will be final

Marking Criteria

Our judges are human and have only one minute to make comments and award marks (between 1 and 10) in each of these areas (These may be explained in more detail closer to the event). Note that the judges evaluate the song, and not the performance. 

  1. Folk Music Genre (Does it meet expectations of a folk song?)
  2. Sing-ability (Might this song appeal to other singers for sessions or gigs?)
  3. Originality (How novel is the topic and/or the structure?)
  4. Lyrical content (How effective is the treatment of the subject matter?)
  5. Poetics (How attractive is the rhythm and sound of the language?)
  6. Musical Construction (melody and arrangement effective?)

Each audience member can indicate their first, second and third choice for the best song, and while the judges try to ignore the performer's skills and focus purely on the song, inevitably the audience are swayed by the performances on the night. We also invite written, constructive feedback from the audience. This is voluntary, and audience members will likely only comment where they feel they have something to say! 

  1. What did you like about this song?
  2. What might improve the song?

In 2019 our judges awarded, across all criteria and songs, the following. (originally we had only six Marking Bands, but on the night we needed some extra Marking Bands - the “almost” marks )

Marking Band

Number of times awarded

  1. Absent
  1. Major flaws
10 (all in categories 1,2,6)
  1. Slightly flawed
9 (mainly category 2)
  1. Adequate (nothing wrong but could be better)
  1. Almost interesting
  1. Interesting (something really caught our attention)
133 (mainly categories 4,5)
  1. Almost excellent
  1. Excellent (something really impressed us)
48 (mainly in categories 1,2,6)
  1. Almost outstanding
  1. Outstanding (genuinely world-class standard)


Below are some thoughts on the marking criteria. Note that something that scores highly in one area may, as a result, achieve a lower score in another. We are looking for balance across these criteria. The judges will also discuss these criteria between them in advance and we'll let entrants know of any improvements to the marking scheme.

  • Folk Music Genre – we are open to a wide interpretation of this, but, if you are writing in an unusual genre, make sure your 40 words justifies why your song is suitable for this competition. (If you have never been to a folk club before, then try a few - understand the songs and styles that work for an audience that sits and listens attentively, as opposed to other forms of live music).
  • Sing-ability – we are particularly interested in songs that might be adopted by other singers in the future. Try your song out with other singers if you can – to get their feedback and see what aspects of the song they can relate to
  • Originality – this is rather intangible, but the judges will have heard many songs in their careers, and will look out for genuine innovation, while also spotting cliched words and chord structures. (There have been several songs that judges were unable to reward in past years, because they use very well-worn four-chord structures (eg I, V, Vim, F which you will know from Wagon Wheel and many others!)
  • Lyrical Content – considering the topic, how fully and how well do the words explore that topic. Are any lines special, or any opportunities missed?
  • Poetics – assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeic. How well do the words and melody evoke other meanings and feelings
  • Musical Construction – how strong is the melody line, how novel are the chord sequences. Is the accompaniment well constructed and does it suit the topic?

All competition entries should be emailed to this address