Winning Minneapolis Songwriter Profits From Independence

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Tim Mahoney once hoped for a record deal, but after 10 years in the music business and winning the Grand Prize in the Great Lakes Songwriting Contest, he has no regrets

Tim Mahoney's latest victory in the 2008 Great Lakes Songwriting Contest is further proof that he's doing just fine, thank you, without a record deal.

The Minneapolis songwriter-performer won the Grand Prize in the contest for "Theme Song," an original composition from his 2007 recording, "Stay/Leave." As well as about $3000 in prizes, he won the headliner spot at the contest's annual Winners' Concert, scheduled for Feb. 7, 2009, at the Trinity House Theatre, a premier Detroit-area concert venue.

"'Theme Song' totally rocked my world," said contest judge Jodi Krangle, proprietress of the "Muse's Muse" on-line songwriting magazine and website. "I loved the writing and the interesting little twists and turns the melody took. That's an awesome song and the writer should be hugely proud."

Mahoney began his music career with the high-energy pop-rock band, the Blue Meenies, which quickly made its mark on the Twin Cities music scene and at colleges and clubs all over the Midwest. From there, embarking on a solo career, he learned some of the hard but valuable lessons of the music business. In an attempt to land a record deal, he took out a second mortgage on his house and enlisted players from John Mellencamp's band. The resulting album, "3 Different Views," was his most expensive CD to make and had the lowest sales. Despite interest from almost every major label, no record deal ensued. He then recorded a solo acoustic CD, "Full Circle." It sold much better, and was his least expensive to make.

Now, after 10 years in the music business, Mahoney plays about 150 concerts a year, both solo and with a full rock band. He recently won Ray-Ban "Never Hide" music contest, which led to a performance at the Rolling Stone magazine 40th Anniversary party at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas and an upcoming photo spread in the magazine. Despite the lack of a label, his CD sales have reached the six-figure mark and his songs have been played thousands of times on Twin Cities radio stations.

The Great Lakes Songwriting Contest is the largest regional songwriting contest in the United States and Canada, with 11 winners getting a variety of cash and merchandise, plus promotional and performance opportunities. In 2008, the contest attracted 600 entries from the eight states bordering the Great Lakes, plus the Province of Ontario, Canada. Based in Ann Arbor, MI, the contest started in 2003 as the Metro Detroit Songwriting Contest, which was organized by a group of southeastern Michigan songwriters. More information is available at the contest website,

The other 2008 winners are:
First Place: Jacob Moon of Hamilton, Ontario, for "The Great Beyond"; and Allister Bradley of Kitchener, Ontario, for "What a Day";

Second Place: Allison Downey of Portage, MI, for "All That Matters"; Greg Hobbs of Toronto for "Sunshine and Roses"; Rob Taube and Hugh Colocott of New York City for "Savannah"; and Mark Croft of Madison, WI, for "Is It Gonna Be Funky?"

Third Place: Dan Hazlett of Waterford, MI, for "Try the Beginning Again"; Juliann of Fort Gratiot, MI, for "Whiskey on my Breath"; Andy Baker of Gobles, MI, for "Origami Heart"; and Mischa Suemnig of Minneapolis for "Movin' On." The contest website contains photos, biographies and website links for all of the winners. It also contains more information on contest finalists and the songs that won honorable mentions.

Details of the 2009 contest will be announced on the website on Jan. 1. The contest is open to all ages and all types of music. The 2008 contest was sponsored by Broadjams of Madison, WI; Indie-Music of Indianapolis, IN; the Songbridge music marketing company based in Ontario, Canada; Elderly Instruments of Lansing, MI; the CD Seller of Minneapolis; and Lamb's Retreat for Songwriters of Royal Oak, MI. More information on the contest is available at

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