Instaband is a battle of the bands for all high schoolers in Ohio. The grand prize is a full recording contract complete with a studio EP and music video, concert booking, album cover design, promotion, and distribution. But all participants get the prize of becoming an “instant band.” Hence, Instaband.

For the past 7 years, students enrolled in GROOVE U’s revolutionary music career program have produced this one-of-a-kind competition. Dozens of bands compete each year, but only one walks off stage with the grand prize. Here’s how it works:

Judges select 20 of Ohio’s top bands from the large pool of submissions. Those 20 bands advance to the Semifinal round at GROOVE U. Semifinalists perform two original songs live in the studio, where both audio and video will be recorded and uploaded to YouTube. Once on YouTube, it’s up to your fans and our judges. Semifinal winners are determined by a combination of 60% experienced music industry judge voting and 40% audience voting. Make sure your fans are liking your video; fan-voting for the Semifinals will be determined by the amount of likes your YouTube video receives in a 48-hour period.

The top 10 bands from the Semifinal rounds then advance to the Finals, where they perform in front of a live audience. This year’s Finals are at Skully’s Music Diner on Thursday February 27, 2020. There will be a selection of judges at the Final round to grade each band’s stage-presence, originality, and musicality. Bring your fans, because at the end of the show, the audience fills out their ballots to vote for their favorite band.

Proceeds from ticket sales go to our 2020 beneficiary Music Loves Ohio and the GROOVE U Alumni Fund.


Instaband is open to all Ohio high school artists. See the Official Rules for more details.

All types of performers are accepted — solo artists, duos, trios, and of course bands. Performers have to perform with live instrumentation. As in, don’t put on a karaoke show. Rap/Hip-Hop and EDM artists can use prerecorded beats in their live performance, but the beats must be your own original compositions.

All genres are accepted — pop, rock n’ roll, rap, metal, hip-hop, singer/songwriter, country, trance/electronica, Christian/gospel, etc.


Send in an .mp3, link to existing content (e.g. Sonicbids, Bandcamp, Soundcloud), or link to a video (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo) for your two-song submission. One of your submissions can be a cover, but keep in mind: only original music will be accepted for the Semifinal and Final rounds.

Register using the online form and submit your material for consideration. Don’t miss the deadline of Friday January 4, 2020 at 11:59 pm!

If you are selected as a Semifinalist, you will be notified via email. Your individual time-slot will also be shared with you.

Before you show up to perform, consider how your gear will “plug-and-play” with the backline.