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Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

Call for submissions — new deadline February 21st


Tamyka Bell
Feb 8, 2019 · 4 min read

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you’re probably getting bombarded with images of how romance should look (red), feel (warm), smell (like roses), taste (chocolate, champagne)…but how does it sound?

Let’s find out!

Spoken word or song

You don’t need to be a composer for this one. In the true spirit of Chalkboard, this is an asynchronous collaboration, so someone has already written the music — you just need to find it and write the lyrics!

We’re looking for your words, written with a rhythm to match your chosen backing track. We’re looking for your voice, speaking or singing over that track, telling us about your love. Are you happy? Are you miserable? Torn? Wishful? Wistful? Blissful?

We’re not looking for a professional quality recording (but you can submit one if you’d like). You don’t even need to sing, though you’re welcome to sing or add an instrumental melody — that’d be super fun! But it’s totally fine to treat this as a spoken word project, and just speak your song.

We’ve got a tight deadline for this, but we’re hoping that will encourage you to think of this as the first draft of something you may develop further in future. Don’t overthink it — most of us are amateurs!

How to play

  1. Choose appropriately licensed backing music for your track. (More information on licensing below.)
  2. Write your lyrics, paying close attention to the rhythm of your words. (This is the fun bit!)
  3. Record your lyrics over the backing music. This doesn’t need to be technical or high quality — if you don’t have mixing software, just play the music in the background while you speak or sing.
  4. Publish your track to an online service such as SoundCloud or YouTube and license your work appropriately. (If you’re feeling shy, you might like to restrict your track so only those with the link can access it.)
  5. Create a Medium story with an appropriately licensed and attributed photo, your lyrics, an embed link to your track, any explanations you’d like to add for the listeners, and evidence of licensing.
  6. Use the tag Serenade. (It’s easier for us to publish this way.)
  7. Submit your draft story with the correct license to Chalkboard no later than 21 February 2019.

Stories that meet the submission requirements will be published on Valentine’s Day and the week that follows, spread throughout the days to cover multiple time zones. (If you’d like yours published before or after a particular time, include a note in your submission, but we can’t make any promises.)

Music licensing

All artists have the right to be recognised as creators of their works, so this project has a zero-tolerance policy to intellectual property (IP) theft — even if it’s accidental.

Your story will only be accepted for publication if the backing music is appropriately licensed for use in derivative works (i.e., you’re allowed to remix) and attributed to the composer and source, including a link to the licensing information so we can easily check.

Further, you must meet all the conditions of the license. For example:

  • If your source music is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, then you must explicitly apply the same license to your song, both in the Medium story and your published track.
  • If your source music is licensed for non-commercial use only, your submission must not be monetised on Medium or on any platforms where you publish your audio or video file.
  • If you paid for a license to use a backing track, please provide evidence of this at the bottom of your story before submission, e.g. a screen capture image or a link to a PDF receipt. We will save this for our records as publisher and delete the information from the story before publication.

Learn more about remixing and sharing creative works at Creative Commons.

You can set the licensing for your Medium post in the “dots” menu prior to submitting your draft:

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Set your content license before you send it our way!

If you do not meet these conditions, we can’t publish your story — it’s as simple as that. We’ll just reject it. (And if you’re monetising something without permission, we might also pop a note to the original creator or the platform you’ve published on.)

A note to original music composers

Please don’t submit original songs with lyrics — it’s not asynchronous collaboration if you’re not collaborating!

If you’d like to offer up some instrumental music you’ve composed for our writers to add lyrics to, please post a response to this story explaining where people can find your music.

Some suggested sites

The sites listed below offer free or royalty-free instrumental music with various levels of licensing, some of which may not allow remixing or commercial use.

We can’t stress this enough: please check the license before you start working on your song and ensure you comply with all conditions! It would be a shame to finish writing your song and then learn that your backing track isn’t licensed for derivatives.

Thanks for reading…now it’s time to be heard ❤

Good luck with finding your backing track and recording your lyrics…and Happy Valentine’s Day!


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Tamyka Bell

Written by

Sponsored Altra Red Team Member. Sobah Beverages Fit Team Member. writes. runs. drinks coffee. doesn’t go in for that whole sleep thing


The home of asynchronous collaboration. Write with us!

Tamyka Bell

Written by

Sponsored Altra Red Team Member. Sobah Beverages Fit Team Member. writes. runs. drinks coffee. doesn’t go in for that whole sleep thing


The home of asynchronous collaboration. Write with us!

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