True to its spirit of music discovery, NPR Music is kicking off 2016 with an invite to unsigned artists of all genres: Show us why you should perform in NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert series. The winner will secure a spot at the iconic performance space and a U.S. tour with NPR Music.
“This Contest brings out the creatives in our country,” says All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen, who developed NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts series with colleague Stephen Thompson in 2008. “When the Contest was first introduced, musicians from every state rose to the occasion and made incredible music recorded behind desks set on mountaintops, in the ocean and in cubicles. I simply can’t wait to see and hear what we get this round.”
For the second year, Lagunitas Brewing Company has provided exclusive support for the Tiny Desk Contest.
NPR Music has created a bigger prize package for the 2016 Contest winner, which includes a four-part event tour with stops at NPR’s Ask Me Another program and at Lagunitas breweries in Petaluma, CA and Chicago, IL and a final stop in Portland, OR. A panel of musicians from the Tiny Desk roster – Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and The Arcs, Lucius ladies Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, and soul artist Son Little – will join Boilen and All Song Considered co-host Robin Hilton in selecting one Contest winner, to be announced in March 2016. Throughout the three-week submission period and afterwards, NPR Music will also feature select video entries on the Contest Tumblr, which already includes highlights from the 2015 Contest.
“I dare say Tiny Desk has been our biggest stage,” say Contest judges Laessig and Wolfe of Lucuis. “To this day, we meet people from all over the world who say Tiny Desk is what introduced them to Lucius. We couldn't be more grateful to be involved.”
The Tiny Desk Contest was inspired by NPR Music’s desire to help fans find music they love and support artists throughout their careers. During its inaugural run in spring 2015, the challenge received entries from nearly 6,000 music makers across all 50 states. As the winning artist, Oakland blues musician Fantastic Negrito, performed at the Tiny Desk and Lagunitas’ Couchtrippin’ to Austin showcase during SXSW. He’s since appeared at music festivals all over the U.S. including SummerStage in New York and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco; embarked on a U.S. tour; and seen his self-titled EP top the iTunes blues charts.
Musicians interested in entering NPR Music’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest must play one original song at a desk (any desk - get creative), upload a video of the performance to YouTube and submit with the entry form at npr.org/tinydeskcontest. NPR Music welcomes music from all genres and, and 2015 entrants are encouraged to participate again this round with new material. Artists must be at least 21 years old and live in the U.S. to enter. The winning artist(s) must be available to travel to Washington, D.C., between March 7 and March 9, 2016 to record their Tiny Desk Concerts performance at NPR Headquarters and eager to go on tour in spring 2016. See complete rules for entry.
Since its launch in 2008, nearly 500 performances have been recorded at the Tiny Desk, Boilen’s festive workspace at NPR Headquarters adorned with years of music mementos and memorabilia. The series has provided a welcoming stage for artists at all points in their career and from across the genre spectrum – including LA hip-hop collective The Internet, 2015 Austin Musician Of The Year Gina Chavez, jazz trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Irish singer-songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson of SOAK, country favorite Kacey Musgraves (who sang "Follow Your Arrow” in honor of the SCOTUS decision to legalize same-sex marriage just hours before her performance), singer Yusuf (Cat Stevens), a cappella vocal quartet Anonymous 4 and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, who needs no introduction. That’s just since December 2014, too. An archive of the entire series is available at NPRMusic.org, YouTube and on Roku via the free, HD-quality Tiny Desk Concerts channel.