The Avett Brothers and Yo Yo Ma to Moby and Run the Jewels since its creation a decade ago. Posted on YouTube and at npr.org, the series features a wide range of musical acts performing intimate 10-20-minute sets.
Now, once again, Greater Cincinnati musicians have a chance to join Tiny Desk’s impressive pantheon (which includes local duo Dawg Yawp, who did a by-invitation Tiny Desk show last year). NPR Music is hosting its fourth annual Tiny Desk Contest, for which it is currently accepting video submissions. Hopefuls must upload to YouTube a video performance of one original song played at a desk (duh). The deadline is 11:59 p.m. on March 25.
The contest is for undiscovered talent (so it’s a no-go if you currently have a record deal, which — seriously? — can’t you just be happy with that? Do you have to have everything? ) and you must live in the U.S. and be 21 or older to enter. Here’s an FAQ in the form of a quiz for more info.
Winners (chosen by a judges panel that includes artists, writers and other NPR staffers) get to tape an official Tiny Desk Concert at NPR Music’s Washington D.C. headquarters, headline a nationwide tour sponsored by NPR and appear on the funny Ask Me Another radio program, which has hosted the likes of Neil Gaiman, Lake Street Dive, Lewis Black and They Might Be Giants. The previous winners of the Tiny Desk Contest have each experienced major career boosts from the exposure. The 2015 winner, Fantastic Negrito, won the Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy in 2017; Gaelynn Lea sold her home after winning the 2016 contest and lives on the road, playing major venues across North America and Europe; and last year’s winner, Tank and the Bangas, just announced they’ve signed a record deal with an imprint of legendary Jazz label Verve Records.
Cincinnati public radio station WVXU has hosted a live showcase of local Tiny Desk Contest submitters for the past two years. Last year, 16 acts performed at the station's Tiny Desk Showcase at the Southgate House Revival.