The Breakthrough Artist Competition is a battle of the bands aimed at newer artists in the Madison scene. Bands compete in front of a panel of music industry veterans for awesome prizes – including the chance to play on the main stage at the Madison Area Music Association Awards Show!

The judging criteria is geared toward addressing all aspects of working and performing in the music industry.  Simple items such as showing up on time, social media use, having merchandise to sell – all the little things that when combined can help artists be successful.  

Prize packages for this competition are meant to help make participating musicians more successful. This includes marketing assistance, professional recording/studio time, music licensing packages, and an opportunity to play to a large audience on a grand stage- at the Madison Area Music Awards show at the Overture Center … and more.  Everything a new artist will need to present their music in a professional manner.


  • Must be a registered band through the Madison Area Music Association (MAMA) and meet standard band submission requirements. (Not a member? Sign up here: http://
  • As of submission date, the artist has been established for 3 years or less, must have played in a public or private venue during the past year.
  • Must be 18+ to enter. 
  • Must provide merchandise for sale during the event. Merch is a vital part of an artist’s ability to promote themselves and a visible indicator of fan support. Judges will provide feedback on their voting sheets regarding merch.
  • Musicians must submit and perform original music. *no covers*
  • Must also demonstrate a local following on social media. Must have a minimum of 300 followers on social media (This includes Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter).
  • Must be able to commit to performing live at the Madison Area Music Association Breakthrough Artist competition on Sunday, December 16th.
  • Must provide thorough contact information including contact full name, phone number, and an active e-mail address.  Musicians should also be able to respond to event coordinators within 48 hours of significant planning dates.
  • Must be able to commit to performing live at the Madison Area Music Association Awards show on June 16th, 2019, should the band win the contest.
  • Winning band will coordinate with the Madison Area Music Association Awards’ Music Director for the June 16th, 2019 appearance at the awards show and will be required to sign the Performance Contract for that event.


  • Registration for eligible musicians begins on October 18th at 12:01am
  • Registration ends on November 26th.
  • The 8 Musicians will be notified on November 29th that they are eligible to participate in the battle on Sunday, December 16th. Two alternates may become eligible to perform if any of the top seven are unable to compete.

The Competition 2018:

    • The Competition will take place on Sunday, December 16th 2018, at The High Noon Saloon, 701A E Washington Ave
      Madison, WI 53703; Phone: (608) 268-1122
    • FOR FANS/ATTENDEES – Doors open at 6pm, the battle starts at 7pm! The event will end at 10pm.
    • FOR BANDS – Load in is at 3pm and goes until 5pm.
    • ALL AGES, suggested $10 admission.
    • Each Musician/Band will be allowed to perform up to 3 songs, with a time limit of 15 minutes.
    • Each Musician/Band will be presented with all judging criteria and point values prior to the day of the competition.  It is the Musician’s responsibility to understand the rules and follow them.  No exceptions will be made on any of the items.
  • A panel of independent judges from various areas of the music industry will evaluate Musicians/Bands on a predetermined set of criteria.
  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners are announced directly following the competition.


 The Bands:

The North Code
Mickey Magnum
Mars Hall
Liv Rather
Bone Holler

 The 2018 Winners:

First place: Wurk
Second place: The North Code
Third place: TIE – Mars Hall & Hypheria


  • Roy Elkins
  • Rick Tvedt
  • Michael Alexander


First Prize Receives:

  • A slot to perform at the MAMA Awards Show
  • Passes to the 2019 Between The Waves conference & festival
  • $200 certificate from Paradyme Productions for recording/mixing
  • 20% off a merch order from Branded Image (i.e. band shirts, etc.)
  • A slot to perform at BratFest
  • Two tickets per member to any 2019 show at the Crystal Grand Theater

Second Prize Receives:

  • A slot to perform at the 2019 Between The Waves festival
  • Passes to the 2019 Between The Waves conference & festival
  • 20% off a merch order from Branded Image (i.e. band shirts, etc.)
  • Sennheiser E935 microphone from Full Compass

Third Prize Receives:

  • 20% off a merch order from Branded Image (i.e. band shirts, etc.)
  • $100 Heid Music gift certificate