DownBeat Student Music Awards thumbnail

DownBeat Student Music Awards

Start an Application

Narrow your Search

Welcome to the 43rd Annual DownBeat Student Music Awards!

We’re glad that you have chosen to participate in this time-honored tradition. To begin the process, see the section at the left titled “Start an Application.”

Established in 1976, the DownBeat Student Music Awards are considered the most prestigious awards in jazz education. Hundreds of musicians, music educators and music industry professionals received their first international recognition as DownBeat Student Music Award winners. Winning a DownBeat Student Music Award is an accomplishment that should be included on any college application or professional resume.


  1. Student recordings made after Jan. 1, 2019, but before Dec. 31, 2019.
  2. Recordings made by any student/group enrolled worldwide in:
    1. Junior High/Middle School: Student(s) must be in grades 6–8 or equivalent.
    2. High School: Student(s) must be in grades 9–12 or equivalent.
    3. College or University: Student(s) must be registered full time at the Undergraduate or Graduate level. D. Solo entries should reflect the grade level the student was in at the time the recording was made. Group entries should reflect the grade level that each of the students was in at the time the recording was made.
  3. Student recordings engineered by professional personnel are eligible in all categories except engineering (10 & 11).
  4. Pitch correction IS NOT PERMITTED on submissions to the SMAs. Entries found to be using pitch correction (or similar techniques) will be disqualified. Live recordings are strongly preferred. Studio Recordings will be accepted, but please use minimal production technique, unless the entry is in engineering categories 10 & 11.
  5. The Student Music Awards are not open to student musicians engaged in full-time professional work.
  6. Tracks with guest artists are not eligible, except in the following categories: original composition (7 & 8), jazz arrangement (9) and engineered recording (10 & 11).
  7. In soloist categories, pre-recorded backing tracks are acceptable.


  1. All entries must be submitted online no later than Jan. 5, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. (PST).
  2. All students must be enrolled in the same school for group entries (categories 2, 3, 5, 6), except when enteringthe High School Honor Ensemble division. This division includes all regional, state and national honor ensembles that include middle school or high school students from more than one school. If an ensemble includes middle school and high school students, then the entry must be submitted in the High School Honor Ensemble division.
  3. College ensemble entries that include one or more graduate students must be entered into the graduate ensemble division.
  4. One copy of the recording and an application must be submitted for each category the student or group enters. Likewise, if the same tracks are being entered in different categories, or if more than one soloist on the track is entering the soloist category, then the appropriate number of recordings and applications must be submitted. (In other words, one entry and application for each soloist in each category.)
  5. There is no limit to the number of categories any individual or ensemble may enter. However, each student or group can only submit one entry in each category.
  6. Composition entries (categories 7 & 8) must include a recording and a copy of the full score. To ensure anonymity, DO NOT include the names of the composer(s) or the school name on the score. The composition does not need to be recorded by a student ensemble. Important: You must include notice of copyright or receipt of application for copyright. (Judges do not see this information.)
  7. Arrangement entries (category 9) must include a recording and a copy of the full score. To ensure anonymity, DO NOT include the names of arranger(s) or the school name on the score. The arrangement does not need to be recorded by a student ensembleEngineering entries (categories 10 & 11) must include a list of equipment used. DO NOT include the student or school name on the equipment list.
  8. The Student Music Awards are not open to student musicians engaged in full-time professional work.
  9. When submitting music, note that only audio files are allowed. The following formats are accepted for audio files: MP3, OGG, M4A, WMA, WAV, AAC and FLAC. DO NOT submit video files.

PHOTOS: During the application process, the DownBeat staff gathers photos for possible publication in the June 2020 issue. Judges do not see these photos. If possible, please upload high-resolution photos with your audio submissions as part of your entry. Label photos of individuals with the student’s name. Label group photos with the group name and the group members’ names, identified from left to right. Include the school name in the file name. Remember, the inclusion of identifying information is OK for photos because the judges do not see these photos. Files should be 300 DPI. (If you have any questions about submitting photos, contact

  1. Judgments are made solely on the basis of ability demonstrated on the candidate recordings. Recordings are judged “blind.” The only identification on recordings sent to the judges is a code number. No student, group or school names appear on the recordings.
  2. The judging criteria are similar to those used by DOWNBEAT in its album Reviews section. These criteria include musicianship, creativity, improvisation, technique, sound quality and balance, excitement and authority.
  3. If, in the opinion of the judges, there is no entry in a category that meets DOWNBEAT standards, then that category is declared “no contest” with no awards given. The judges may also establish a new category if the nature of the entries warrants the addition.
  4. The judges are professional musicians and educators.
  5. Applicants will be notified via email when their entry is received.
  6. Official results will be published in the June 2020 issue of DOWNBEAT. These official results are embargoed until April 28, 2020. All participating schools/teachers will receive copies of the June issue in early May.
  7. Honorees will be notified prior to the publication of the June 2020 issue of DOWNBEAT. 

Any questions regarding guidelines or requirements, please contact Sue Mahal at or call 630-941-2030, ext. 107

For technical questions please contact the Acceptd Support Team at or by calling 1-888-725-2122. Check out our Help Desk for frequently asked questions.