The singer's Drop The Beat contest is her "way of paying it forward," she tells PEOPLE exclusively

By Nicole Sands
March 15, 2018 03:35 PM

Monica is on the hunt for the next big thing!

The singer-songwriter has launched her very own songwriting contest called “Drop The Beat” to give some of the world’s great musical talent a chance to be recognized and pursue their dreams.

“I thought this was a fun outlet, a fun way to get back in touch with [my fans] — to not only let them know that the way they perceive my music is important, but also say ‘Listen, you can be a part of it,'” she tells PEOPLE exclusively about the inspiration behind the contest (visit to enter).

The “So Gone” singer, 37, had her big musical break at 12 years old after performing in a talent show, and this competition is her way of “paying it forward” and helping others jump-start their career, she adds.

| Credit: Courtesy Monica

“Some people just need the door to be cracked so they can run through it,” she says. “Hopefully people will be their most creative by not having anyone standing over them, critiquing them or telling them what it should be. This is free reign for you to really create, from your heart and soul and send it directly to us. Drop The Beat really is my new baby.”

From American Idol to The Voice and The Four to X-Factor, singing competitions have proven to be a hot commodity in the music industry. Monica, who says she was “typically always the youngest if not the only child in these competitions” growing up, believes the most important aspect of any contest is to give “full spotlight and opportunity to the artist.”

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“I thoroughly enjoyed being a guest on The Voice and being a part of that process because you actually got the opportunity to say, ‘This is what I’ve learned working with other people and different vocal coaches,'” she says. “I didn’t have that opportunity to be coached until way later in my career when I started having difficulties from singing improperly.”

While finding one’s place in a competition gets tricky when talented musicians in various genres are going head to head for one title, Monica hopes her contestants will follow in her footsteps by owning their “personal truth” and displaying authenticity through their lyrics.

“There’s so much hidden talent in the world,” Monica continues. “Drop The Beat is going to be a platform for musicians to just step out on faith and say ‘Listen, here’s the music.'”