Launchpad Launches 10th Season

Recent News 23 Dec 2013

launchpadLaunchpad Launches 10th Season


Two Madison music organizations have achieved significant ten-year milestones. In 2013 it was the Madison Area Music Association and the tenth annual Madison Area Music Awards. In 2014 it will be Launchpad, whose statewide competition recognizes outstanding youth performers. The two organizations have a lot in common. Both exist to facilitate and encourage youth participation in music, particularly in public schools. MAMA honors the Launchpad Madison Regional winners at their annual awards show and several Launchpad participants have performed there. Launchpad is a program of the Wisconsin School Music Association who also works closely with MAMA and the selection of winners in its series of youth awards. Both the Madison Area Music Awards and Launchpad use Broadjam’s contest services to administer and carry out the registration process.

Launchpad is directed by One Ten Productions and Dennis Graham and has just put out a compilation CD comprising all thirteen 2013 finalists. Last year’s winners were Autumn Underground from Middleton High School with the Runner-up being metal band MU from Milton and Janesville Parker High Schools.

Here is a video of Autumn Underground’s winning performance:


In addition to the honors and the accolades, the thirteen regional finalists win a spot at a Summerfest showcase. The ultimate winner at the statewide level wins the grand prize of the Les Paul Launchpad Award, free recording time at Blast House Studios in Madison and their own 2014 Summerfest gig. The runner-up also gets a Summerfest slot.

Registration for the 2014 Launchpad competition is open until February 7. Bands interested in getting involved should visit the Launchpad website ( . When registering they will also be queued to register for the Madison Area Music Awards.

Launchpad is the only program of its kind in the nation – a statewide school music competition for high school students in garage bands, of all musical genres. As part of the application process, bands are asked to identify a music teacher who has influenced their musical development. Another way Launchpad celebrates the reach of music education is by recognizing these teachers and the positive, lifelong effect music instruction has on their students.

Here is how Launchpad works:

  • High school students who are in bands (i.e., rock, jazz, country, reggae, hip hop, etc.) outside of school are invited to submit an application (available through school music teachers and at, plus an audition recording with three songs (originals or covers) by the application deadline of February 7, 2014. Bands can apply and submit recordings directly online via Note: At least one member of each band must be in a school music program and all members must be currently enrolled in a Wisconsin or WSMA member high school. In addition, one member from each band must identify a music teacher who has made a positive difference in their music education. 
  • Recordings, which do not need to be professional, are reviewed by a committee and narrowed down to a maximum of 15 bands in each of four Wisconsin regions. Selected bands then compete in a concert event held at a school in their region. The regional events (March 28 – Green Bay area, hosted by Chilton High School; April 4 – Eau Claire area, hosted by Chippewa Falls Senior High School; April 11 – Madison area, hosted by Sun Prairie High School; May 9 – Milwaukee area, hosted by Wauwatosa East High School) are open to the public.
  • The top three finalists from each region, plus a “wild card” band selected from Launchpad entries through a worldwide voting system of listeners on, then compete June 7 in Madison for the prestigious Les Paul Launchpad Award. Along with that comes a professional recording session at Madison’s Blast House Studios and a 2014 Summerfest gig.
  • Courtesy of Yamaha Corporation of America, the winning band also gets to designate a Yamaha equipment prize package to their school!
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About the author

Rick Tvedt

Rick is publisher of Local Sounds Magazine, formerly Rick's Cafe, Wisconsin's Regional Music Newspaper. He is also the Executive Director for MAMA, Inc., a non-profit organization that produces the Madison Area Music Awards and raises funds to promote youth music programs.

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