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Searchlight 2016: FAQs

Editorial Staff

How do I enter Searchlight?

You’ll require two things to enter Searchlight this year.

1. A video of you or your band performing an original song. It can be recorded live, or it can be lipsynch of your pre-recorded original song. It must be under 500 MB in size.

2. An MP3 of your song so we can consider it for radio that is less than 10MB in size.

I don’t have any original songs, can I submit a cover?


Can I enter if I already have a record deal?

Yes, but your label must consent to our rules and regulations in order for you to do so. The onus is on you to ensure you are not breaking any copyright laws by entering.

Does the video have to be a continuous live performance?

No, it can also be an edited video of you performing to your pre-recorded song (ie lip synch). But, we do want to see what you look like performing. The performance itself, along with songwriting, technical ability and voice, will be the primary consideration. Also keep in mind that if you make it to the finals, you will be asked to perform your song live on our television special.

Can we upload a lip sync video?

Yes, as long as the song you are lip syncing to is yours, and is a recording by you, feel free to make a lip sync video, and get creative!

Does video quality matter?

We will be judging performances on things like sound, songwriting and chemistry, but understand that not everyone has the skills to edit video. If you are simply recording from your smart phone, here are a few tips to make it as good as possible. 1) Be sure to turn your phone sideways (horizontal) before recording. This will ensure the video fills the screen. 2) Don't be afraid to get up close, cropping your band right to the edges of the screen. Not only will that help with capturing sound, but it just looks better than a video shot from across a large room.

What video file formats are accepted for the submission of the video performance?

H264, .mpg4, .mp4, .mov, or .mov4.

How should I name my video file?

Please use this naming convention: Searchlight-bandname-songname-date

Do I lose rights to my song?

No, the song will always be yours. By entering, you agree to our rules and regulations though, which allow CBC to use your song for broadcast and editorial purposes.

Why do I also need to upload an MP3?

We consider all songs submitted to Searchlight for radio play. For this reason alone, we need MP3s and songwriting credits from every entry.

Can my MP3 be the same song used in my video?

It does have to be the same song, but it can be a different version, ie, live off the floor vs. a a studio version, etc.

Why should I ask people to vote for my song?

Because one winner in each region will move on based solely on popular vote. The rest of the winners will be determined by a judging panel.

Use your social channels, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc, and ask people to vote for your song. Don’t forget to tag it #Searchlight.

How do we advance each round? Why do votes matter?

In each round, the songs will be graded according to our judging criteria (see the rules and regulations for full details), but there will also be one slot per region that is up for grabs based solely on popular votes. Even when it comes down to picking the final four, three will be selected by our celebrity judges, and one will be based on votes.

If I used session musicians, do they have to appear in the video?

No. But if you do make it to the final four, you will be expected to perform the song similar to what it sounds like in your submission, which could mean making sure the same (or similar) musicians are available.

Can I submit a co-written song, even if the co-writer is not part of my band and does not appear on video?

Yes, as long as the song belongs to you.

I’m a solo rapper/electronic artist/singer and used an outside producer. Do they have to appear in the video?


Who decides if my song goes through?

In the beginning, CBC Music producers will be judging songs. In Round 2, our “industry judging panel” will decide. Our “celebrity panel” will help decide our final four.

My province has a few different regions, how do I know which region I should enter in?

Keep in mind, if you are in a band, enter in the region that the majority of your group lives in. For example, if your 4-member band has 3 members living in Ottawa, but you live in Kitchener, you must enter in the “Ottawa” region.

How long do I have to enter my song?

Song Submissions open on Monday, Feb. 29 and close Wednesday, March 23. After submissions close, and you will not be able to submit your song.

So I entered Searchlight, where does my music go from here?

Our radio producers will be sharing it with CBC radio stations across Canada, as well as with CBC TV evening news programs. From there, our industry panel of fellow musicians, CBC employees, and music industry professionals across Canada will be listening to your music as well.

What files must we upload to enter Searchlight 2016?

To submit an eligible entry you must submit a video performance of a song, as well as an MP3 file of an original song.

When will the winner of Searchlight be announced?

The winner will be announced on the televised program for Searchlight in mid-May.

What will the winner of Searchlight get?

The winning group/musician of Searchlight 2016 will get a prize pack valued at $50,000. It includes $20,000 worth of equipment from Yamaha Canada, a performance slot at the 2016 Festival in Toronto, and a Career Booster package from Canadian Musician magazine, including a studio session, mentorship, album production/distribution and more (valued at $25,000). Winners will also be featured on CBC Radio's q. There's also $5,000 in audience prizes up for grabs from Yamaha Canada, just for watching and voting.

I’m a musician, can I enter in more than one of my bands?

No, a person can only enter one time, with one band.

Can we submit more than one song?

No, you can only submit one song for Searchlight.

Can I submit a YouTube link?

No, you will need to upload the original video file as part of your submission.

Are there any hashtags we can use to promote the video performance once it is published?

Yes, please use #Searchlight in your tweets, Facebook messages, and Instagram posts, and feel free to tag us in any of those posts, too!

Twitter: @CBCMusic
Instagram: @CBC_Music
Facebook: CBC Music

Is there a time limit for the video performance of the song?

The performance aspect of the video must not be longer than five minutes.

Can we using backing tracks?


Are there any key dates I need to keep in mind?

Monday, Feb. 29 – Submission period opens

Wednesday, March 23 – Submission period closes

Wednesday, March 30 – Regional round one contest opens

Wednesday, April 20 – Regional round one contest closes

Monday, April 25 – Regional round two finals opens

Friday, April 29 – Regional finals close

Tuesday, May 3 – National round opens

Monday, May 9 – National contest closes

Mid-to-late May – Top four finalists compete on CBC-TV Searchlight special to become the 2016 winner

Saturday, May 28 – Searchlight 2016 winner plays Festival in Toronto

Who can I contact if I encounter problems uploading the files, or have questions about Searchlight?

You can contact a CBC producer at