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Hey! My name's Stephan Wells, and I'm a musician, mixing engineer, programmer, proofreader, gamer, aspiring game developer, audio moderator, and former host of the NGADM. Thanks to Youkos for the user image and profile icon!

Stephan Wells @Step

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Utrecht University


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NGADM 2015!

Posted by Step - July 4th, 2015

Why hello there! This is a newspost full of tons of useful info for the NGADM (Newgrounds Audio Deathmatch) 2015! Don't know what I'm talking about? Click on that link to find out more!



Just like every year, this year the contest is split into two; the AUDITIONS phase and the KNOCKOUT phase. Each phase has its own separate rules, so make sure you read it all, because - plot twist - some things which are banned in one phase are totally OK in the other! Keep in mind that you're allowed to enter either solo or with a partner.


Here are the rules for the AUDITIONS phase:

1.) You are allowed to post a track that you've made from scratch, or a track that you've made in the past.

2.) The audition track may be a cover/arrangement, but unless you're entering as a team, the track cannot be a collaborative effort.

3.) If you posted your audition track but change your mind and wish to change it, state CLEARLY in the thread.

4.) If you're entering as a team of two, your audition can be a collaborative effort between you and your collab partner, or a track by any one of you individually.

5.) Auditions posted after the deadline will not be accepted unless it's for a <em>ridiculously good reason</em>.


Here are the rules for the KNOCKOUT phase:

1.) Every track you make in the knockout contest has to be made from scratch, by you, for the competition. No remixes, covers, arrangements, or revisiting old tracks. Having said that, you may ask someone to play an instrument for you or sing for you*.

2.) If you entered as a team of you, then your round's submission can be a track by either one of you or a collaborative effort.

3.) Keep in mind that this is a MUSIC competition. We won't judge voice-acting, experimental noise, sound effects or anything that doesn't count as music.

4.) If you finish a round's track early, you may start another one which you can use for the following round, assuming you make it through.

* A note on enlisting singers/instrument players: it's OK to do this, even if you didn't enter as a team! The ONLY rule is that ANY form of composition or production was made by you, and not the instrument player/singer you're working with. That means no asking for improvs and no giving creative freedom. If you have an instrumentalist or singer you plan on working with a lot for the competition, consider asking him/her to enter with you as a team.



1.) All tracks posted to the competition must be uploaded to Newgrounds. Audition tracks which aren't uploaded to Newgrounds are accepted ONLY on a case-by-case basis.

2.) Keep any suggestions, arguments and complaints to PMs. Do NOT argue or complain about a judge's score, for example, in the thread. That includes anything from passive-aggressive remarks to butthurt rants. I cannot stress this enough.

3.) Use the NGADM threads to post your submissions, but you may also post any kind of discussion. That said, try to keep it NGADM-related or music-related. As we say every year, you can talk about how your cat bit your arse which suddenly gave you inspiration to make the most amazing song ever, but you can't talk about your cat and you certainly can't talk about your arse.

4.) All Audio Portal rules apply, and all BBS rules apply. This should go without saying!

5.) This contest is tough. You're expected to churn out a track every two weeks. We love the huge turnout we get each year in terms of participants, but if you can't keep up with the pace, consider backing out of this one. Walkovers will happen no matter what, but we'd like to keep them at a minimum.

6.) Lastly, this contest is and always was a means to have some competitive fun, keyword being FUN. Do not enter it with the sole intent of winning; we encourage friendly discussion, posting reviews on each other's tracks and being a good sport. However, don't all be softies either. This is called a deathmatch for a reason! Now put your game face on.



Am I getting any reviews on my audition track?

Not necessarily. There are nearly 200 audition tracks and it's pretty much impossible to review them all. Some judges do post occasional reviews and may take polite requests, but don't count on it.


Am I getting any reviews on my competition track?

Yes, you'll be getting reviews from the judges for each competition track you make barring the audition. For the first round or two, however, you won't necessarily be getting a review from each judge, as the reviewing workload will be split.


Where will results be posted?

They'll be posted in a new thread for every round. You'll have a notification PM'd to you upon the publishing of any results that concern you.


When will results be posted?

Check the schedule below. The results thread can be posted ANY TIME during results day.


Will I get more/less marks for being in a team?

No, every competitor, whether in a team or solo, will be judged equally.


Can I submit a cover/arrangement?

Unless it's for the auditions, no you cannot.


Can I collaborate with someone else on a contest submission?

If you haven't entered as a team, then everything you make has to be done solo. The only exception we make is having singers or instrument players in your track. As long as you do ALL of the composition and production yourself, you are allowed to, say, send MIDI files to other people and have them play an instrument/sing for you.


Can I work on music for the contest before the contest starts?

No, every track has to be made within the 2-week period of the round it is in. However, if you finish your round track early, we permit starting to work on your next round's track.


Is there a maximum/minimum length requirement for the contest track?

No, but use your common sense! Anything too long will be harder to keep interesting and coherent/structured, and anything too short might not have enough memorable content in it.


Where do I post my round submission?

In the results thread of the previous round.


Who will be judging my submissions?








What is the judging criteria for the music?

This is asked very frequently and it's a very hard question to answer since every judge is given free reign on how to judge the music. However, for general guidelines:

- Don't focus on just one or a bunch of areas of your track and neglect the rest. Judges will take into consideration everything, from mixing to mastering to melodies to harmonies to structure to transitions to everything in-between.

- Originality IS a factor we consider, just like any other positive factor of a piece of music.

- Make sure your track is one cohesive experience, has a suitable amount of content and adequately maintains interest from start to finish. This means that "background music" that's 8 minutes long and only changes slightly once every 16 bars, 1-minute loops with little musical content and tracks that sounds like three different tracks or movements glued together all will have marks deducted.

- Do NOT blame any shortcoming of your track on the genre it's in. Comments like "This is house, obviously it will sound repetitive" or "This is orchestral, it doesn't need good mixing" will get you nowhere. This competition receives submissions consisting of many different genres and we try and be as unbiased as possible, so we won't be closing blind eyes for gripes we have with tracks just because of the genre they are in.

- You are in a music competition. The less your track sounds like a piece of music, the less you have a chance of making it through. Experimental noise, atonal ambience, voice-acting, sound effect compilations, etc... don't make it very high on a judge's score sheet.




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Note: Timezone used is Newgrounds time: EDT (GMT - 4)

Note 2: All dates are inclusive. For example, if a deadline is on a Tuesday, then the actual deadline is Tuesday at midnight EDT, meaning you have all of Tuesday to finish your submission.

Note 3: (J) denotes a judging period.



Comments (18)

I will be watching from a distance. Best of luck to everyone.

Sure thing! Take care :).

Good luck to anyone participating in this contest! I won't be able to take part this year, but I'll keep an eye around if anyone needs some additional feedback. Cheers! :)

Sounds good. c:

I think I'll be making an audition track from scratch again. I hope to come up with something.
Goodluck all. (:

Good luck to you too!

This year, I'll definitely try to join! Hopefully as a team of two, hehhe...

Oh, nice! Got anyone in mind to team up with?

Sure. I'll most likely team up with @dem0lecule :D
We've already made a collaboration together, and this is a perfect opportunity to work some more with each other :)

Woo! Best of luck to you two!

Sup Step. Is the judging still scoring tracks outta 10 etc? Or will they put the tracks head to head this time and choose the preferred piece?

Hm, well as mentioned in the auditions thread nothing is finalised yet so we'd be willing to make changes to the system before the knockout contest starts. However, I don't think we'll move away from the score system unless a significant amount of people think that's the best way to go. I think this discussion took place in one of last year's threads and knowing my tendency to write word walls I probably already said all I want to say about it haha.

Anyway I'd be totally up for starting that discussion again in the auditions thread if you feel like it's important to discuss!

Sorry about another comment, just replying to your reply. :)
Yeah much was spoke about last time. XD

I don't want to start anything though and get people upset, some people took it personally. So if everyone is content with the scoring system, then you should run with it. :) Personally I've never been a fan of scores on music. But I do like the idea of the judges choosing a winner in head to head battle, through reasons that they arrived to. As the admin of the contest if you want to bring it up in the auditions then feel free. My worry would be that it skews the focus of the thread though. So I'm willing to let it be.

Personally I don't go with rigid scoring systems because songs shouldn't tailor to every aspect to check mark criteria. But I'm quite interested in being a judge as the sound always comes first and the scores come after. So I might be interested in that. ;)

I'd love to have you on the judging team, if you wouldn't mind potentially scoring the submissions out of ten haha.

Based on the response of last year's discussion I'm not sure if the "no scores" movement will gain any momentum again this year, but I definitely see your point. It's really the reason why I don't use specific scoring criteria. I don't believe it's possible to create scoring criteria that apply to every possible song out there. Hence, my scores generally reflect how much I prefer a submission to its opponent(s), so they're all relative.

Sticking a number to a piece of music isn't something that will ever be accurate, and there are flaws to the system for sure. Having said that, I personally want to keep the system in there because knowing how large the margin of your win/loss is, and knowing which judges scored you higher than others, is more informative, more transparent on our end and more exciting for the contest overall. I'd be willing to sacrifice any minor disadvantages of the system for these reasons.

I'll have a chat with Echo about it though.

That sounds good to me. It is hard to judge a piece and give people constructive feedback, so scoring is definitely a good way of working too, I'm not actively pushing you to change your contest though, I was just wondering moreso. You make a very valid point on knowing what judges scored you in comparison to other judges, and how this impacts the contest.

I have a lot of work on currently, but I do like the appeal of giving people constructive feedback to encourage them to progress. However, it's always nice to join in. Does every Judge assess every track?

In terms of judging, yes, every judge has to give a score to every track. However, the REVIEW workload is split such that nobody will ever be forced to write more than sixteen reviews within the space of at least two weeks.

For instance, in Round 1 there are 64 submissions. The judging period lasts one week. So, every judge has to give a score to each of those 64 submissions within the one week. Reviews can be written during the judging period and in the 2 weeks of Round 2, and it will be split such that each judge doesn't need to write more than sixteen reviews.

Hope that makes sense haha.

I've seen very good stuff come out of this competition, and I wish I could make a song every 2 weeks...
When does this start?
I'm getting a computer in August and I could finally begin using a professional software!!
Do you have any tips for making a song in 2 weeks on FL Studio?
And can you submit something that you started before the round but finished during the round?

> When does this start?
Schedule is in the newspost! Audtions end 30th July and then there's a brief judging period. The 64 participants are chosen from the auditions and released on 4th of August, so that's when the knockout contest starts.

> Do you have any tips for making a song in 2 weeks on FL Studio?
Well, it shouldn't matter what DAW you use. What really matters is how good you are at thinking of music on the spot. I'm personally not great at it haha. There's a wealth of techniques and tips out there to overcome writer's block and write music, but I think the two tips that have worked best for me are:

1.) Have a clear idea in your head. The reason you're not sure what to write is because there are SO many options and paths you can take. You're literally spoilt for choice. To overcome this, decide what kind of song you're going to make from the start. Decide its key, its style, its instruments, its tempo... It's OK to deviate from that plan as you go along, but if you're just going to doodle around for hours and hope inspiration hits you, you're gonna have a hard time.

2.) If you wrote something and you don't like it, suck it up, grin, and continue working on it. It may sound like crap and gnaw at your very soul, but keep on working on it. You need to be able to force yourself to compose, no matter how bad you think the composition you're writing is. There are many reasons for this:
- It may not be as bad as you think.
- It might get better as you go along.
- It might lead to an awesome idea later on, allowing you to scrap the crappy bit and revolve a new song around your awesome idea.
- In the end, for the purposes of the NGADM, it's SOMETHING. You may not be proud of it, but submitting ANYTHING is always 100x better than a walkover.

> And can you submit something that you started before the round but finished during the round?
What you ARE allowed to do is, say, start your Round 2 song after finishing your Round 1 song (assuming you make it through to that round). You can't revisit old ideas though. Everything you make has to be newly-made for the competition, from scratch.

Hope that helps.

Quick question:
Would a calm peaceful survive against a hardcore techno song in one of the rounds?

Judges strive to be as unbiased as possible. Take a look at the judging guidelines in the FAQ written in this very newspost to get an idea of what we look for in a submission. However, in principle, style/genre/mood or other artistic choices shouldn't hold any bearing on the score of your submission :).

so who will be the judges this year ( i guess you have found at least some mates already)?
just asking out of curiosity ^^.

Still unannounced, but they will be soon!

This will be my first time entering the NGADM. I'll be happy enough just making it to the round of 16, I think, but I'll give it everything I have.

Most late response ever, sorry LOL. But hey, now we know you actually did make it to the Round of 16! And maybe even further, who knows?

I know everyone has a unique taste for music, and of course each judge has their own individual outlook on the tracks they listen to based on the scores, but what if some judges are very picky about certain genres that they listen to and may deduct points for a reason as such? Also, how can the judges determine if a song submission was actually a fresh piece or not?

I'm an idiot and it seems I forgot to respond to this. The answer is way too late now but basically I try and choose judges who are experienced in multiple genres and/or are able to judge multiple genres with as little bias as possible. In the end, there will always be bias, but we try our best to avoid it.

Also, the truth is, if you're good at hiding it, it's impossible for us to find out whether the track is newly made or not. In the end it boils down to sportsmanship and fair play. However, we have found people who tried to upload old songs of theirs in previous NGADMs, through a bit of background checking. This leads to an instant disqualification.

Step. I want to be your 1,000th audio review.

If I don't forget, consider it done.

Glorious! Maybe you can be my 200th fan... :P

Someone's smooth today :v.

EDIT: I'm already your fan, silly!


@bassfiddlejones And I was thus rewarded by a boatload of awesome music! :D Damn, winning feels good!


@Step I mean it's pretty simple. You just click the heart-shaped icon in the top-right corner of the window of the user's main page. I would've thought you knew that, Step, being a moderator and all. :3