NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest is back for 2019

NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest | Courtesy of NPR Music

It’s that time of year again. The time for unsigned artists across the country to break out their video cameras, warm up their vocalizers and come up with the most original and captivating original musical performance from behind some sort of desk. “Why?”, you ask?  Because NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest is back for 2019, awarding one lucky winner a visit to NPR headquarters to play their very own Tiny Desk concert, and then come on tour with NPR Music with support from our sponsor, Blue Microphones.

Today at SXSW, NPR Music announced the return of the popular Contest. And for the first time ever, it’s open to artists 18 years and older. Over the past four years the Contest has received more than 22,000 entries from artists and bands across all 50 states. Continue reading →


ILL DOOTS, Hardwork Movement and more will play NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Philly 2017 concert


After a lively third year of over 6000 entries and a knockout winning video from New Orleans outfit Tank & The Bangas, NPR Music is once again taking its Tiny Desk Contest on the road, and it swings through Philadelphia on May 2 at World Cafe Live.

The all-Philly lineup will feature two hip-hop bands near and dear to The Key’s hearts. ILL DOOTS, a South Philly collective that just recorded a Key Studio Session last month, will perform after delivering an impressive Tiny Desk submission featuring their stirring and socially conscious anthem “Black Matter.” Hardwork Movement, a band we’ve loved since hearing their first single “Shine” a year and a half ago, is also on the bill on the strength of their breathtaking new “Becca’s Jam,” making its debut in their Tiny Desk submission. Two more artists will be announced closer to the event; stay tuned for more on that. Continue reading →


New Orleans outfit Tank and the Bangas chosen as 2017 Tiny Desk Contest winners

tank and the bangas
Tank and the Bangas | photo via Facebook

After sifting through 6000 entries, NPR Music has found its third annual Tiny Desk Contest winner in Tank and The Bangas. The New Orleans outfit wowed the panel of ten judges with an “organic” performance of their song “Quick,” filmed in a classroom with Tarriona “Tank” Ball sitting on the requisite desk, surrounded by her bandmates.

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And now, a (nearly) complete list of Tiny Desk Contest videos from Philly

The Bul Bey | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo |
The Bul Bey | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo |

For the second year running, the folks at NPR Music held their Tiny Desk Contest this winter, with artists all over the country competing to be a featured performer on the endlessly popular Tiny Desk Concert video series. Word is the winner will be announced tomorrow morning, so just like last year, we here at The Key compiled a list of nearly every Philly area musician who entered.

Last year, NPR told us that Philadelphia artists contributed 75 videos to the 7,000 overall entries. This time, we’re counting 131 videos…almost double.

Each group reconfigured their setup for an intimate performance, staged behind a desk of some sort. The mix and variety of styles parallels the variety of musical talent pouring out of this city right now. And this isn’t even all of it. Continue reading →


Round two of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest is now open

tony desk concert
Fantastic Negrito in his video submission, winner of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest 2015

Submissions are open for round two of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest! The folks at All Songs Considered are once again looking for creative interpretations of their regular live session series, which are usually filmed around host Bob Boilen’s desk at the NPR offices. The contest is open to all categories of musical acts that are currently unsigned.

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Does it matter that the Tiny Desk Contest winner was once signed by Interscope?

Fantastic Negrito, winner of NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest
Fantastic Negrito, winner of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest

Without a doubt, the Tiny Desk Contest was one of the most inspiring musical happenings of the past year.

After developing a global fan base with their uniquely-curated videos of unfussy, informal concerts held at producer Bob Boilen’s desk, the NPR Music team this winter opened up the floor to the public, inviting them to shoot their own DIY Tiny Desk-esque videos and submit them via YouTube for a chance to win a slot on the series.

On the one level, it felt like the small-time local heroes from around the country were being given a chance at stardom in that special, Tiny Desk kind of way. Beneath the surface a bit, those of us who work in music know that many of the artists already featured in the series are in the midst of some sort of press cycle, a national promotional push for whatever album they happen to be selling at the time.

As I said, it’s a well-curated run of videos, but most of the artists who make their way to Boilen’s desk are doing so with some level of industry connectedness in hand. Continue reading →