Canadian Songwriter Challenge 2020

presented by Bell Media

Register Your Interest for the 2020 Canadian Songwriter Challenge!

The Canadian Songwriter Challenge is an annual, three-day songwriting workshop held around late April each year, sponsored by MusicBC, SOCAN, CCMIA, and presented by Bell Media. It is all ages, recommended ages are 16+. The challenge is proudly curated and hosted by Nimbus at our studios in Vancouver, BC. The workshop is open to a maximum of 30 participants, who, after a few short hours of business panels and songwriting theory, write a new song in groups of three in less than 48 hours, and record a rough demo (engineered by our adept Nimbus graduates and students) by the end of the workshop. With 10 rehearsal/writing spaces, five recording studios and three acclaimed mentors, the songwriters' goal is to provide a practical toolkit to help songwriters develop their skills in the craft of writing unique, commercially aware songs. Our mission here is to create and nurture a sense of community, and long-lasting relationships. With each year, we are delighted to see this network of passionate songwriters grow, support and continue to write together.

Previous mentors have included Kinnie Starr, Dave Genn (54-40), Jeff Dawson (Producer), Ryan Guldemond (Mother Mother), Shaun Verreault (Wide Mouth Mason), Blair Packham(Toronto Song Studio), and Elisa Pangsaeng (Producer).

"The Canadian Songwriter Challenge was an incredible experience. The songwriters created an instant community, the Mentors were amazing - they pushed us and inspired us and I know I emerged a better songwriter. I didn't want it to end" - Dean Sawatzky, Canadian Songwriter Challenge Participant

We encourage you to challenge yourselves in a supportive and inclusive environment, and see what comes from three days of intensive songwriting with strangers!

See the FAQs for information, and register your interest for updates below.

We look forward to seeing you at the next one!

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  1. What does the "selected song for feedback" mean?
    The first morning of the workshop, you will be placed in groups with a mentor who will go through each of your submitted songs and provide constructive feedback (therefore these should be original songs). If you do not have a link to a previously written song or would prefer not to receive this feedback, leave this field blank.

  2. What is the selection process?
    This is a first come first served event. However those who have registered their interest will be informed first. If you would like to be added to this list for future workshops, please email with your name, email, and phone number.

  3. What do I need to bring?
    You will need to bring a water bottle, writing materials (or laptop), a recording device, and a collaborative attitude. Participants will be responsible for their own meals; please do not bring food or drinks into the studios except water bottles.

  4. What's the typical demographic of participants?
    Age ranges from 18 - 65+. We welcome everyone!

  5. Do I need to be an experienced songwriter?
    No - all ages and abilities are welcome - we have had participants who have never written a song, producers and songwriters who do this professionally, and those in between.

  6. Do you have to come with any music ready?
    Not necessarily - many have written or co-written songs before, but it is not a prerequisite. The goal of the workshop is to write a new song in a group of three, from scratch.

  7. What is the schedule like?
    We typically have one open-mic night and mixer on the first evening. The next two days are from 8-10 hours long, made up of song feedback from mentors, a lecture on songwriting method, industry panels, and of course, your songwriting time with your groups. You may also start your recording on the afternoon/evening of the second day. The final day is more recording, and the final listening and feedback session with mentors, followed by a closing night event. These are full days, and it's an intensive schedule, so please ensure you have an open and flexible attitude, and are ready to put in the work and stretch your creative minds!

  8. Are there accommodations provided for those coming from out of town?
    There is no accommodation provided. Participants are expected to make their own way here and provide their own meals (there are plenty of restaurants nearby!)

  9. Should I bring my own instruments/what gear is available?
    If you play a portable instrument (guitar, uke, accordion, etc.) please bring it. There will be a maximum of 5 pianos/keyboards available.

  10. Can I leave my instruments overnight?
    We can only do so in pre-arranged, exceptional cases.

  11. Do participants have to perform?
    No there is no pressure for participants to perform. However if you do not wish to perform please ensure that you tell us before you arrive on the first day. However most participants do perform and we like to encourage a safe and inclusive space in which you can feel comfortable to share your music!

  12. What happens to our songs after we record them?
    The demos will be uploaded to a Soundcloud account and shared with our networks. This is part of a national initiative by Bell Media, so there are groups all over the country who are participating in their own version of this #CanadianSongwriterChallenge. Artists shall own all master sound recordings recording under the Program. Songwriters shall own all copyrights in the musical works created during the program, which means you are free to use the songs as you like. However, it is your responsibility as a participant to agree on the songwriting splits and bring an external hard drive in order to receive the session files. Nimbus will not keep necessarily keep these files indefinitely.

  13. Who are the mentors?
    This year our veteran mentors will be Dave Genn (54-40), Carly McKillip (One More Girl), and Elisa Pangsaeng (Kinnie Starr, The Zolas)!

  14. Can I take photos and film during the workshop?
    Yes! We encourage you to use the hashtag #CanadianSongwriterChallenge and to tag @NimbusRecording as well as our sponsors and presenting partners. They'll be provided to you. Please note: you will be asked to sign a media waiver as we also use photos and videos to promote future workshops.

Proudly Sponsored by:

Bell Media
Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations
Music BC
Nimbus School

Countdown Is On. Only 30 Seats Available.






Contact us at or give us a call +1 (604) 875-8998

Classes start January 6, 2020

Have questions? Let us give you a call!