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Anthems for the Anthropocene

A Climate Change Songwriting Contest

Anthems for the Anthropocene banner

Registration Is Closed

Climate change has arrived and we are living through this crisis now. We feel its impacts in our health, our environment, our infrastructure, and our economy. It has implications for just about every facet of our daily lives. A warming climate means more summer heat, rising sea levels, more extreme weather, and threats to human, animal, and plant communities around the world. The impacts of climate change are not distributed equally: Black and brown communities and the Global South bear the heaviest burdens even as their economies contribute far fewer greenhouse gas emissions per capita compared to the Global North.

We need to muster all of our available tools to address this crisis: science, engineering, policy, diplomacy, communication, and, not least of all, artistic expression.

We have learned that simply knowing climate change is accelerating is not enough to spur effective action, and that we must find ways to convey the urgency of climate action that reach our families, friends, and neighbors on a deeply personal level. Music has long been a way of inspiring reflection, action, and change. Can it generate climate action? We think it can.

About the Contest

Participants in Anthems for the Anthropocene are challenged to create, perform, and record an original song that conveys a message about climate change to inspire and empower listeners. The strongest entries will feature both lyrics and musical composition that are creative, compelling, and entertaining. Participating bands and solo performers will be able to take advantage of skills workshops and drop-in guidance sessions on climate content during the span of the contest.

Please see below for a full list of competition rules.

For 2023 the competition is open to up to a maximum of 15 song entries on a first-come, first-served basis. Participation is limited to Drexel undergraduate and graduate students. Participants may sign up as an already existing band or as solo songwriter-performers.

*$2,000 Prize Pool*

Awards include Visa gift card prizes for the first, second, and third place songs. The first-place artist or artists will additionally receive time with Drexel’s Music Industry Program sound engineer Cyrille Tallandier and producer James McKinney in a Drexel recording studio to create a professional quality recording. There will be a separate People’s Choice winner chosen as well, with a non-cash prize.


Dates and Deadlines:

Registration for Anthems for the Anthropocene opens Friday, March 10, 2023, at 9 a.m. EST and closes Tuesday, March 28, 2023, at 12 p.m. EST. We will accept a maximum of 15 song entries, with a waitlist of up to three registrants. When the maximum registration has been reached, participants and waitlist will be notified, and this web page will be updated accordingly to reflect close of registration. 

2023 Timeline:

The case competition will run from April 3 through April 21, weeks 1 - 3 of the spring term.

  • March 10 — Registration opens; available until spots are filled or close date of March 28, 5 p.m. EST
  • March 29 — Registration closes
  • March 29 — Participants and waitlist notified, and confirmation of participation requested
  • April 3 — Launch event (participants must attend)
  • April 5 — Technical skills workshop (participants must attend)
  • April 6 — Drop-in climate change office hours (optional)
  • April 12 — Song submission deadline (12 p.m.)
  • April 13-20 — Judging period
  • April 17-20 — People's Choice voting period
  • April 21 — Final celebration event and awards

Contact with questions and inquiries.

Contest Programming

During the two weeks of the competition, participating teams will have access to two exclusive in-person workshops as well as an “office hours” period with Drexel staff. Please note, some of the programming must be attended by at least one member of each team.

Launch Event featuring a songwriting workshop with James McKinney

April 3, 5:30-7:30 p.m. ET
Music Industry Program Recording Studio One
One Drexel Plaza: 3101 Market Street, Suite 020 in the Garden Level

The competition begins with a required-attendance launch event and songwriting workshop on Monday April 3 from 6 - 8 p.m. The launch event will feature an informative presentation on the contest prompt and deliverables, and organizers will be available to answer your questions. Following this segment, we are offering a songwriting workshop with acclaimed recording artist James McKinney to help participants craft their best possible song entry.

About James McKinney

James McKinney is an experienced creative professional having spent nearly 20 years as an executive manager with various media and music companies. He is also an accomplished engineer, producer, songwriter, arranger, film-scorer, keyboardist, vocalist, musical director, educator and philanthropist. In James’ experience as producer and music director he has worked with Doug E. Fresh, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Faith Evans, Chuck Brown, Wale, Rachell Ferrell, Kenny Lattimore, Raheem Devaughn, Bankie Banx, Kenny Burrell, James Moody, and more. His performance, co-writing and co-production also contributed to two Grammy Nominated Performances in the Urban Alternative category.

In addition to these accomplishments, James has scored for film, television and web and most recently contributed to the score and sound-track for the award winning films My Last Day Without You and S.O.U.L Of A Black Woman. His scoring credits also include commercial scores for Discovery Channel and Johnson & Johnson to name a few.

McKinney currently serves as Chief Operating Officer of Eusonia Records, and also owns and operates Infinite Icon Enterprises, LLC, his production company. James also uses his skills to enhance the human condition through philanthropy and education globally. In fact, within the last few years, James has performed concerts, educational workshops in music and music business in seven countries, including China, Taiwan, England, Papua New Guinea, Anguilla and Haiti. His work in Anguilla also garnered a 2021 Tec Award Nomination for Studio Design for AMA Recording, the studio he co-designed and built in The AMA Center, a Caribbean hub for technology and innovation which he also happens to co-manage. He recently completed several terms as a National Co-Chair of the Producers and Engineers Wing of the Grammys; and as a Trustee of the Board of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, (also known as The Grammy Association).

James counts his musical talents, business savvy and experience as a blessing and looks forward to continuing to use these gifts for the betterment and empowerment of people needing and seeking positive inspiration around the world, as he continues to share his and other’s music globally through live performance and recorded music.

Climate Change Office Hours

April 6, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Zoom

Teams will be invited to take advantage of Climate Change Office Hours on Monday, April 4 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. During this two-hour drop-in session held on Zoom, participants may bring their questions about climate change to Drexel professors with expertise in climate from perspectives of science, policy, engineering, justice, public health, and more.

How to Turn Your Song Into a Great Recording With Cyrille Tallandier

April 5, 6-8 p.m.
Music Industry Program Computer Lab
One Drexel Plaza: 3101 Market Street, Suite 020 in the Garden Level

Drexel Music Industry Program Professors Taillandier and McKinney will show participants some of the basics of sound recording and walk teams through techniques for making the best possible recording with the equipment that you have.

About Cyrille Taillandier

After graduating in 1996 from the Ecole Superieure de Realisation Audiovisuelle (Paris, France), Cyrille Taillandier started his professional career as an assistant recording engineer. From 1996 to 1999 he worked at a number of prominent French studios including Davout, Soft-ADS, Miraval, and Le Manoir. As a second engineer for the recording of the multi-platinum and award winning Essence Ordinaire by the renowned French band Zebda, Cyrille worked side by side with the album’s producer Nicholas Sansano and traveled to New York for the completion of the record. He fell in love with the city and moved to Brooklyn in 1999. For the next two years Cyrille worked as a Pro Tools engineer and mix assistant with Tony Maserati on multi-platinum albums including Alicia Keys’ Songs in A Minor, P. Diddy’s Forever, R. Kelly’s, and Jennifer Lopez’s On the 6. Cyrille has been an independent audio and Pro Tools engineer since 2001. In 2006 he began teaching at the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. Cyrille joined AWCoMAD’s Music Industry Program in 2007. His recent credits include Lenny Kravitz’s Black and White America and Angelique Kidjo’s OYO.

Final Celebration Event

Earth Day Eve, April 21, 6 – 8 p.m.
Academy of Natural Sciences auditorium

At our final celebration we will play clips from each of the song entries, inviting participants to the stage to share about their work. We will announce the results of the song judging and the People’s Choice winners, and participants will be invited to stay for a brief reception after the event.


We thank our Anthems for the Anthropocene collaborators:

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Anthems for the Anthropocene: a climate change songwriting contest