Sponsored by Music2Life and Rubicon Theatre Company



"Music has this way of reaching across cultural lines, national lines, the lines of religion or language... It can reach into peoples' hearts and create awakening..." 


 -- Michael Franti





Songwriters Ages 18 to 38*
All Genres

Deadline for Submission: April 22, 2017
Entry Fee: $20

The Top 10 Finalists’ songs will be performed at a concert and awards ceremony onstage at Rubicon Theatre on Thursday, May 11, at 7:00 p.m., at which time the winners will be announced.




*We appreciate that the craft of writing and performing social change music knows no age. Through this particular competition, however, we seek to encourage those younger, emerging artists who are just beginning to find their voice in the social justice arena and who are seeking mentorship, guidance and opportunities to be heard.  


For those more seasoned activist artists, please feel free to sign up by emailing bmcdonald@rubicontheatre.org for our open mic night on May 11 at 9:30 pm in the Rubicon Pub.     

Music2Life also maintains a list of activist artists to whom they send various funding and programming opportunities as they arise.  To join this list, please send Music2Life an email to info@music2life.org with your name, current city of residence and a link to your website, YouTube channel, LinkedIn or other online background site.  

Thank you to everyone who is using their voice, talents and passion to build a better world. 



First Place Award

  • $3,000 cash prize

  • Onstage featured number in the “Music for Changing Times” Saturday night concert onstage with Noel Paul Stookey, Peter Yarrow and other legacy artists.  

Second Place Award

  • $2,000 cash prize

  • Inclusion in “Music for Changing Times” Saturday night closing number 

Third Place Award

  • $1,000 cash prize

  • Inclusion in “Music for Changing Times” Saturday night closing number 

Special Activist Artist Award

Presented through Music2Life’s new Activist Artist Fund to an individual in the Top 10 with a unique vision for how to use their song to affect social change (see detailed description below).

  • $5,000 cash prize to use towards implementing your vision

  • Consulting and promotional support from Music2Life in making your vision a reality

  • Inclusion in “Music for Changing Times” Saturday night closing number 

Folk Fest Award 

Presented by OnestoWatchProductions.com and Santa Barbara Music Foundation to the top artist in the genres of Folk, Americana, Gospel, Roots, Country or Bluegrass. 

Audience Choice Award


What It’s All About

Music moves hearts and minds around social issues like no other medium. Musicians who create and deliver music of social change are vital catalysts, able to facilitate emotional connections to the issues of our time and awaken activism. We are seeking artists to both share their music as part of this competition and join us for all or part of a weeklong festival of events May 8 through 13 at Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura, California: “Music for Social Change: Looking Back/Moving Forward.” 



General Information

  • The competition is part of a weeklong series of events entitled “Music for Changing Times: Looking Back/Moving Forward” curated by Noel Paul Stookey and Liz Sunde of Music2Life with Rubicon Theatre Company. 
  • The competition is open to emerging social change musicians ages 18-38.
  • Applicants must be able to be present in Ventura, if selected as part of the Top 10, for rehearsal and performance on Thursday, May 11. Applicants must also be available for the Saturday evening concert on May 13. 
  • All music genres accepted and considered (for all except the Folk Fest Award)
  • Those who complete the application may have free admission (subject to availability at the time of the request) to observe the Wednesday, May 10 Master Class from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. with Noel Paul Stookey, Dan Wheetman and others TBA. As many as five artists from the songwriting competition will be invited as live participants in the class.
  • Each Top 10 finalist receives a pair of complimentary tickets for the Thursday, May 11, 7:00 p.m. “Songwriting Competition Top 10 Concert.”
  • The Special Activist Artist Award-winner will be selected from the Top 10 and may also be the First, Second or Third Place recipient. 

How to Apply

  • Complete the Application Form. This form will ask you for contact and song information, a short biography, a standard release/waiver and provide you with a link for the $20 enrollment fee. 

​Upload Instructions

  • Upload the following to Dropbox: (All file names must be labled as such: Your First Initial_Last Name)

    • An audio (.mp3 file format) of a single song that best represents your area of social concern (best audio quality you can manage but no need for studio recording)

    • A lyric sheet (.pdf file format only)

    • A 1-2 minute “selfie” video (.mov or .mp4 file format) of your music-driven concept, story and/or project. Include name, city and answers to the following questions. (Please speak clearly; if you feel it will be helpful, in addition to the video, you may submit these answers in writing by upload (.pdf file format.)

      • What is the area of social concern that moves you?

      • What is the story you are trying to tell through your music (or particular song)?

      • To be considered for the Activist Artist Award, please also tell us how you are using (or how would you like to use) your music/song to make change happen in your community. Please include the group or organization you’d like to connect with or are currently connected with, if applicable.



  • Applications and submissions must be received by 5 p.m. PST Saturday, April 22.

  • The Top 10 applicants will be notified by May 2. If a Top 10 applicant is unable to participate in the finals for any reason, the next highest-scoring applicant will be invited to attend and participate. 


Application Review Team

  • Five-time Grammy Award-winner Noel Paul Stookey of folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary (who will lead the panel of esteemed professional judges)

  • Tony nominee and L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award-winner Dan Wheetman of Marley’s Ghost

  • Music Agent Ira Goldenring of Paradigm Talent Agency

Other adjuticators will be announced by Friday, April 7 on the Rubicon Theatre website.