We’re lucky. Our studios exist on laptops and travel wherever we go. Getting our music distributed and heard is just a few clicks away. So what’s stopping you from creating your next album? Sometimes it’s not the technology, it’s the motivation.
Enter the concept of the music challenge. Music challenges are modeled after the highly successful National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org), which get authors to commit to writing a 50,000 word manuscript within the month of November. The idea isn't to make something perfect, it's about completing the first draft. And, from there you can always edit, revise, add to, and turn it into a finished product.
There are many music challenges out there. But two of them start this Sunday on February 1st. If you’ve been looking for some motivation to finally create your next album, this is it.
Come on. Give it a shot. They’re free.
Here are your choices for February:
Both RPM and FAWM challenge you to record an album’s worth of material within the month of February. Each one has different rules on length and submission requirements. For instance, RPM wants you to create 10 songs or 35 minutes of original music, while FAWM is looking for 14 songs.
One of the best things about these challenges is you’re not alone. All throughout February, the websites and boards are buzzing with musicians talking gear, exchanging recording and songwriting tips, and keeping each other motivated as the clock ticks to midnight on March 1st. And then, once it’s done, the party continues usually with listening parties in cities around the world.
But the benefits go beyond just making the music; doing this can also generate exposure. They include jukeboxes that showcase what’s been created, which can get you new fans. And RPM and FAWM often work with the media to highlight the musicians taking part.
The RPM organization usually promotes the event to radio and journalistic outlets, including National Public Radio (NPR). In fact, due to this, NPR will showcase music from the challenge in the following months, playing the releases on their stations, and highlighting it on their websites. Our own band's attempt at 10 songs or 35 minutes one year ended up getting NPR coverage. And, once we put the finishing touches on our album, Sham Rock, later that year, it went on to become a St. Patrick’s Day favorite and was even nominated for a couple Best Irish Album awards.
Not bad for just rolling up our sleeves, diving into the challenge, and seeing what might come out of it. Which is why we’re suggesting you do so come this Sunday. So, if we’ve convinced you, head over to and sign up right now at RPM or FAWM (it’s free) and start brainstorming.**
There's nothing that spurs creativity more than a deadline. Challenges yourself this year -- make some new music, meet some new musicians, get some new listeners, and use it as a way to generate potential media coverage of your work.
Challenge: Sign up for one of the music challenges and write an album in the month of February.
**Okay, okay. If this Sunday is just too soon for you, or you've already got plans in February you can’t change, then block out this November for yourself and check out the National Solo Album Month (nasoalmo.org).
#yourmusic #songwriting #albumproduction #creation #challengePhoto Credit: RPM