Freestyle Music

Music choice at the World YoYo Contest is difficult: it must reflect the players style and play, but also adhere to strict rules to keep the event “family safe” and welcoming for all.

Music Length and Choice (1A-5A and AP Division)

Final
  • 3 minutes
  • Your choice of music
Semi-Final
  • 90 seconds
  • Your choice of music
Prelim
  • 1 minute
  • Your choice of music
WildCard
AP Division
  • Up to 4 minutes
  • Your choice of music

Over 40 Freestyle / Women’s Freestyle

Final
  • 2 minutes
  • Your choice of music
Prelim
  • 1 minute
  • Your choice of music

Guidelines for Music Choice

All contestants in the Freestyle Divisions, please read the following guidelines carefully.

The red text is a clarification posted on June 8.

The disqualification standards will not change from the 2019 rules. The updated language we have added to this page is meant to clarify the intent of the same rules from 2019. Music that was okay in 2019 will still be okay in 2023.

Be careful with the Content of your Music

All contestants must behave in an upstanding, appropriate manner. The player must consider their conduct in their freestyle, music content, and behavior on the contest premises.

The following list is the content subject to penalty, but that does not mean you will get disqualified for sure with one small violation. Please see the detailed rules below.

No Bad Words

Some words are a serious violation that can result in disqualification. Please very careful with this.

Some examples of common words (and variations of words) subject to penalty (in English here but include the equivalents in other languages not listed) include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • kill (judged by context, referring to killing of people, animals, living things, oneself, etc.)
  • murder
  • damn
  • sh*t
  • f***/motherf****r
  • b**** (and/or other slurs for women)
  • n****r/n***a (and/or other racial slurs for Black people)
  • f**/f***** (and/or other slurs for gay and other LGBTQIA+ people)
  • r***** (and/or other slurs for intellectually disabled people)

Please see this Wikipedia page for more details and a more complete list.

Again, this is not a complete list. We did not list all English curse words and slurs here, and there are many more hurtful words that can be subject to penalty.

No Violence / No Disturbing Content

Update: We are asking you to not have this content in your music. However even if you do, we will not give a penalty unless it is an extensive, serious violation. (If you are unsure please contact us in advance.)

Please make sure your music does not contain any violent or disturbing content.

  • bullet sounds and gunshots (or sound effects that may sound like gunshots)
  • explosions (or sound effects that may sound like explosions)
  • screams
  • content glorifying (including but not limited to) violence, rape, suicide, killing, murder, genocide, war

No Sexual Content

Some explicit content is a serious violation that can result in disqualification. Please very careful with this.

Please make sure your music does not contain any explicit sexual content:

  • lyrics describing or implying sexual acts
  • heavy breathing, ecstatic noises or screams

No Discrimination

Some words are a serious violation that can result in disqualification. Please very careful with this.

Please make sure your music does not contain any discriminatory content.

  • slurs based on (but not limited to) identity, race, class, national origin, disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion

No Beeping/Blanking/Silencing

Update: We are asking you to not have them in your music, but if you do, we will not give a penalty unless it is an extensive use of them. (If you are unsure please contact us in advance.)

In the past, there have been some contestants who tried to cover a censored word with a beeping sound, or reversing the part, or silencing (making the part have no sound). In many cases the cover up was not good enough and became the subject of disqualification or at least discussion.

Also, many young, new players may like your music, and they may assume it is okay and use the same music without editing it in a future contest (and they can then be disqualified).

Moreover, music that has words that need to be censored can often contain inappropriate content or tone throughout the song.

For any music with obscene content that has been edited out, we ask that all edits be made to fully and completely remove the offending words from the song. If the words are edited but still able to be understood by our judges, you may be disqualified. If you have any doubts or questions, please submit your music for review as soon as possible here: musiccheck@iyyf.org

A note from the official statement: “The ‘No Beeping/Blanking/Silencing’ rule was an attempt to solve a problem that has plagued yo-yo contests for decades without a resolution. Many players have insisted on using music that contains profanity or questionable content, without properly editing the song to make it ‘contest safe’. The result is too much time spent checking music, players being disqualified at the last minute, inappropriate music causing problems during the event, and an overall unsustainable amount of effort being spent on this issue. We will be working on an equitable solution to this problem, and there will be a rule change regarding this for 2024 Worlds. We’ll announce the change no later than the end of 2023 and we are open to ideas on how to solve this issue fairly for all.”

If you are too young to understand the rules:

Please talk to your parent(s), guardian(s), family and/or friends who understand these rules and ask them to check the music for you.

If you do not understand English or the language of your music well:

Since this is an international contest not all participants speak English, and all come from different cultural contexts of what language is appropriate in this kind of situation.

If you choose music that you do not fully understand to play in front of a big audience, it is your responsibility to make sure all of the content is okay.

Why do we follow these rules?

Because this is an event geared toward all ages.

Music must be suitable for an audience of all ages (including young children and their parents). Contestants who use inappropriate music (with inappropriate words in all languages, obscene language, and inappropriate lyrical content explicit and implied) may be disqualified by judges. If the contestant is unsure if their music is suitable, they may request that the judges review it beforehand. Please submit inquiries to musiccheck@iyyf.org

If you are not sure, contact us before you submit your music.

Ultimately, the final decision of whether a freestyle music track is appropriate will be decided by the contest organizers based on what was heard in the song, and on the context of the song. Please understand that this is a case-by-case basis. If a contestant has questions or concerns about certain words or content in their music, they should contact us before submitting their music. Please submit inquiries to musiccheck@iyyf.org

Every year there are contestants who are disqualified, nearly disqualified, or penalized for music problems. If there are questionable words or content in your music we highly suggest that you choose a different song. Again, your music must be suitable for an audience of all ages (including young children and their parents) and that guideline will be strictly enforced.

Will organizers check all music before the contest?

Contest organizers are not obligated to check all music. It is each contestant’s responsibility to make sure their music is appropriate for the contest.

That said, we will check your music if you specifically contact us to ask about your music before you submit it for the contest. Please submit inquiries to musiccheck@iyyf.org

Also, if we happen to notice something wrong with your music while we are processing it in preparation for the contest, we may contact you if we are able to at that time.

What will happen if I violate these rules?

If it is brought to the attention of staff and/or judges (by contestants, staff, authorized persons, audience members, judges, etc.) that a contestant’s music is inappropriate, contest staff will promptly call a meeting of the available judges and organizers to check the contestant’s music.

After the meeting, contest organizers will decide how to handle the case.

No disqualifications will be made after the results for each round (Prelim, Semi-Final, Final) have already been announced (unless the violation is particularly bad).

If the music is so excessively bad that the continuation of the performance is judged to be inappropriate, the music can be stopped mid-performance by the judgment of any one person of the following: head judge, division judges, contest supervising management staff, venue authorized persons. (If after checking it is found that there is no problem with the music,  the contestant can do their freestyle a second time at the end of the relevant division.)

Contest organizers will use the submitted song itself as the primary material subject to judgment. Even if the contestant provides reference material from the song’s composer, lyric writer, record company, and/or lyric notes, such materials may not be considered. The organizers’ final decision will be based on what was heard in the originally submitted music.

After it has been decided that the song is inappropriate, the organizer will attempt to inform the relevant contestant before results are announced. We ask that the contestant report promptly to the person in charge when called. However, we cannot promise that an announcement will be made if there is not enough time before results are announced, or that we can contact them if the relevant contestant is out of the venue or does not respond to the summoning announcement.

The decision of the organizers is final and after a disqualification is decided it will not be reversed in any case.

Here are the 4 possibilities of action/penalty for inappropriate music:

If your music contains inappropriate material, the penalty will be decided on a case-by-case basis. It will depend on the level of the violation/damage, and the organizer will choose an option (or combination of some) from the list below.

1. Warning to the Contestant / Content Warning on the Uploaded Video
  • The violation is small or very subtle or unintentional
2. Warning to the Contestant / Music Muted/Replaced on the Uploaded Video
  • The violation is small or subtle, yet the freestyle video cannot be uploaded publicly as it is
3. Disqualification
  • The violation is large, and/or this is not the first violation for the contestant
  • The contestant will not be included in results (no point score)
  • The contestant will not be subject to awards
  • The contestant’s video will not be uploaded
4. Banned from the Contest

If a contestant’s freestyle contains serious violation(s) that have the result of damaging the contest or yo-yo community through their conduct and/or choice of music (especially purposely), we may ban the contestant from future contests on top of being disqualified from the contest.

  • No results (no point score)
  • No awards
  • No video uploaded
  • No permission to compete in the future (the number of years will be determined depending on the degree of the violation)

Please use Legally Obtained High Quality Music

You must use legally obtained, high-quality music files. Any music may be used (copyrighted, royalty free, creative commons, all are acceptable) but you must submit official-quality files. Low quality audio files can result in technical difficulties during your freestyle.

Here is a list of examples of music that is okay:

  • You have a CD album and you ripped the music to your computer
  • You bought a music file from Apple Music, Amazon Music, etc.
  • You downloaded a music file from NCS, SoundCloud (or any sort of legal music distribution web site that you can download music from)
  • Any other copyrighted music, non-copyrighted music, and creative commons music is okay.

We request that you please do not download your music track directly from YouTube and submit that file. The music quality will be too low for a professional sound system on the contest stage.

A note from the official statement: “In this rule, some players understood this as they must own the copyright to the music they are using. This is incorrect. Our intention was to encourage players to submit high-quality, ‘official’ copies of their freestyle music instead of low-quality YouTube to MP3 rips that have given us many, many audio issues to resolve over the years. We are not asking you to purchase the copyright for your song, merely to spend the dollar or two to purchase and download an official, high-fidelity copy of the song.”

WildCard Round (30 seconds) Music

In the WildCard Round, the contestant can only choose their music from among the official list of designated songs. Please indicate and submit your chosen track number in the Music Information Form. In the case that the contestant has not submitted a song choice, they may choose it at the Music Reception Desk on the day of the contest, or the music staff will choose a song randomly.

More details, including the WildCard music option list, can be found here.