It’s September the 1st, the time every Eurovision website declares the 2014 season under way. But it’s not the same rule for the songs.
While the Eurovision Song Contest has had a ‘deadline’ in previous years that had to pass before a song could be performed in public and remain eligible to be entered into the Song Contest (mostly to stop the United Kingdom sending ‘Eleanor Rigby’), the ‘September 1st’ rule was watered down last year – both ‘Birds‘ and ‘Solayoh‘ had made shorter public appearances before the cut-off date, and the German National Final featured a handful of songs that would have sailed through the date deadline – in one case by hundreds of years.
For the majority of cases, a song released before September 1st is still going to be ineligible, but the changing nature of music (especially with the rise of YouTube and online demos that have a total of 27 views) has caused a change in the thinking behind the date rule.
DR questioned the rule heavily in 2012 as Nowhere by Tine Lyngaard had to be disqualified from the Danish National Final due to an early ‘demo’version breaking the date, but not becoming a ‘hit’. While explaining the disqualification, DR also wondered why the rule had not been changed to take into account the changing music scene.
NDR’s Thomas Schreiber talked briefly about the rule tweak for the 2013 Contest during the ‘Unser Song Fur Malmo’ process – any song that was in apparent breach of the September 1st deadline could have its case argued by the broadcaster in front of the Eurovision Reference Group.
From our understanding, the key consideration will be if any early broadcast or publication of a song will lend it a ‘competitive advantage‘. If that’s the case, then it’s going to join our list of the Top Songs Disqualified From The Eurovision Song Contest. But a quick vocal demo for thirty seconds on the radio, a sample track sent to a record label via YouTube, or a dodgy rendition of a nationalistic song played at the Assembly in a Primary School visit… you should be okay.
All these issues go away if the song doesn’t breach the September 1st date, so in that sense anything ‘new’ from today onward could be the winning song from Eurovision 2014.
Just don’t discount that little demo on Vimeo you stumbled over in the summer.