Album Production Challenge

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Over in the 'Why there are no 50/90 cds' thread there has been a lot of discussion about a production challenge. I've been nominated (apparently I drew the short stick) as organizer for a post 50/90 production challenge. The idea being that we write a ton of songs but many of us seldom spend any time polishing those songs before hitting FAWM and writing even more songs.

Our initial idea is to start a facebook group and have a deadline of December 1st to finish producing an album (or EP) of material and release it in some manner to the world. Typically bandcamp or soundcloud, but as long as it is complete and readily available it really doesn't matter where it's posted. We will be using this thread as an update as well, so if you don't use FB and want to be involved then this will be the place to post for this fall.

If you are interested then you can post in this thread. Details will be finalized fairly soon and the group with be created in the near future. We will want community involvement and see how it goes. My personal idea is to have a "dry run" this fall and then do it again in April, post FAWM with the idea of doing it yearly in April with a possible post 50/90 challenge as well. But all that can be decided as we go.

Further ideas and suggestions are welcome. But we are keeping it short and sweet, simple and straight forward to start.

So in short:

-Produce an album (or EP, or two etc.) by December 1st
-*There is no restriction as to what songs you can use.
-Share it with the group in some form by the December 1st deadline
-Use the FB group (or alternately this thread) to share progress, links to songs and final album link and to encourage each other to finish.
-Ideally, we'll all listen to all the albums and leave some sort of response as to what we like about them. But it isn't required, only encouraged, especially if there are more than a handful of participants.
-As of this time (and probably going forward), it is not FAWM or 50/90 endorsed, sponsored, acknowledged or maybe even known about. (That means we will be using GYAWS or the Songskirmish groups as a template rather than the lovely FAWM and 50/90 sites because of the work and lack of skill involved.)

Here is the link to the group. Membership needs to be approved, but any member can do the approval. I hope that strikes a good balance between keeping it a safe community while not being too restrictive. Please let me know if anyone has suggestions, thoughts or comments:

This space reserved for a link to all the albums posted in the Album Production Challenge

I usually do a bandcamp album of 5090 songs anyway. So I guess that puts me in the circle.
I agree with a fb outpost. In fact it is kinda sorely needed. I am thinking one stop simplicity in finding everyones finished works.

HUGE THANKS to @tcelliott for bringing this up in the first place, shepherding it through a looooong conversation thread and for agreeing to admin it for now!

One point I wanted to get clarified that we discussed in the other thread and that is, the songs on this album do not need to have been created in a 50/90 or FAWM challenge, is that correct? If so, I am going to use this opportunity to produce my first album and maybe a second one as well!

yes! I'm in, which should be no surprise to anyone Smile

I do this anyway. I'm in the process of mastering some albums of 50/90 songs for release in October. And then get ready for another album in November Smile

@johnstaples As far as I'm concerned absolutely any song you've ever written is fair game. In fact, I'm not opposed to covers (as long as the artist takes responsibility for permissions.) I'll update the OP.

Exactly. Why limit an EP/release to stuff you wrote in a weird mood this summer? Make it a collection of things that make sense together, from this year/last year/senior year of high school....

Thanks @tcelliott! Now I am getting excited! Gotta blow the dust off the Ozone user guide so I can figure out how to make LOUD songs that are all compressed into solid bars!

Muahaha... erm.. I mean, please don't. Is there a mixing thread this year? It might be useful to revisit some cool tools and techniques to enhance our songs. Or maybe it would just drag me into an ocean of too many possibilities to finish a song and I should just stay way.

I started revising. It's taking forever for just the first song. It's like my brain said, "Since I'm not trying to demo this in an hour, I'm not gonna make any useful decisions."

I'm going to take part in the challenge, but I'm restricting myself to the tools in my DAW, otherwise I would be overwhelmed by too much information, which can become a little bit intimidating. A production challenge is a very good idea, thanks for doing it @tcelliott.

I'm in, been planning to at least finish an EP with songs written during FAWM, 50/90 and Song Skirmish FB group the two last year's. Hopefully this challenge can help me to move on from just planning and actually get going.

This is awesome! I haven't had much time over the summer to participate this year unfortunately, but I have enough stuff from this year if I include FAWM to cobble together something like an EP and this is exactly the push I need to get myself together and back in the groove again Smile

I was thinking of doing this independently in any event--kind of on the same timeline for a "Christmas release"! So...I'M IN!

What a great idea. This is the one area I tend to really fall short. I've got 3 EP's and an album in the planning stage, gathering dust and wilting on the vine, so this push is just what I need to get something done.

Why I can't motivate myself to do the record/mix/master phase without a challenge I'll never know.

Great Idea!!! I'd like to throw my hat in the ring on this!!

Down like a clown in a makeup-free town.

Considering that I have two deliberate albums and at least three thematic EPs worth of material in rough form, polishing up *something* would be a good idea. Count me likely in!

I'm already working on an album to be released in that time frame so I'm in.

See, I knew that doing it now with a December 1st deadline would get some interest.. Smile

As for me and 'old songs', as some of you know, I've been doing albums after FAWM (and sometimes 50/90 too) for a while, so I have less of a 'backlog'... but still, there are a whole group of songs from before that time i never really 'released', and theres a fair bit of non-political stuff from this summer that wasn't part of my recent more political album.. so yeah, Im excited for this, and glad so many folks are thinking of participating- its a fun thing, and looking forward to seeing alot of finished albums, especially from some folks who are long overdue for 'full albums'! Smile

I'm doing this. I'm doing this. I'm doing this. Three times, so it must be true! Thank you, tcelliott.

"Real artists ship."--Steve Jobs

Count me in. That's what I was planning to do anyway.

I've set up the FB group. If @johnstaples will take a look and let me know what he thinks about it, I'd be appreciative. (I've sent you a FB message.) If there aren't any glaring problems or holes I'll open it up for everyone and link it here and on the Fawm fb page.

@tcelliott, sorry for the delay...I just took a look and it looks great! Thanks so much for spearheading this!!

It's live. See the second post for more information:

I'm in! Just sent a request to join Facebook group. I'm a sucker for challenges.

I too just sent a request, problem is I have several identities. Smile I sent the request from my Facebook page under my real Identity Tom Veitch.

If you have been doing this for, say SEVERAL years, what are your plans to select tunes for an EP/album?

I have lots and lots of stuff I've written and never released.

There are several songs I was playing at open mics or with my band over the last few years, a couple dozen I put on Soundcloud for others to hear, but many more I have not listened to in a while. Listening to everything would be a big project, it seems a bit overwhelming.

Does anyone have a plan for approaching an issue like this?

With over a thousand songs written it would be overwhelming to listen to them all. However, a simple scan down the list will eliminate the vast majority of them. I will be doing some self listening, even if it is only 30 seconds of each song until I get a short list. I could probably do several different albums with slightly different styles after all these challenges. I'm just gonna start grouping the ones I know I want to do together and then see what I need to fill that out. At least that's the plan.

I have 172 songs, 28 of which are instrumentals I sell at Audio Jungle. So, that leaves me 144 to choose from. A quick scan of my spreadsheet (yes, I keep a spreadsheet) should let me choose finalists fairly quickly! Dunno about the rest of you but a large percentage of my unfinished skirmish songs are crap anyway! After that first culling I am leaning toward choosing songs that are mostly finished and just need remixing/remastering with maybe a new track recorded here and there.

I can't help here, because I'm always writing lists of songs for an album, that never gets finished. But in the process I have found that some songs just can't live together on the same album, no matter how good they might be. There has to be something, however vague,that connects them, but as well as something that connects them there also has to be some degree of difference to keep the listener interested. It might be worth writing a few lists of the better songs, and juggle them around until you get the best combinations, rather than thinking just in terms of selecting "best" songs.

My next step is to create several playlists of approximately album length and load those onto my iPod for listening in the car to see if they work together.

I've done that in the past, @johnstaples for both album ideas and for set lists. Part of the problem is that sometimes I'll get a new arrangement for a song that can change the feel and sound (harder rock vs acoustic etc) or change the key after the initial demo is recorded. If I can get a solid number of songs that I know I want to do started then I'll probably have a slightly longer short list to choose from after that. One of those maybe songs might end up being perfect for the track list once it gets going.

Good to see so much interest in this thread!
I just checked out Bandcamp - I've listened to others' music on it, but never explored it as a possibility for my music. I have Soundcloud, but I haven't used it in months.
As far as content of my album, I think I'll stick to this 50/90, and maybe go back to last FAWM. I might re-record the ones I choose as guitar/vocal, and maybe even live performances.
I've done 4 albums, and I enjoy the process of stringing songs together - I look at them as chapters in a book. And I try to not have two songs in the same key back to back.

I've got an album in the pipeline, but pressure of work means it's unlikely it'll be ready to release by Dec 1st. I'd still like to participate on a support basis though!

If people are looking for a digital distribution service (to get their music out on Spotify, Tidal, iTunes, etc....) I can recommend the newly started service, I think they launched in march, you use a iOS/android app to post and administrate your releases.
It's free!
You need a PayPal account to get your payments and your balance needs to be 10$+ before you can withdraw any money. Just checked it out with one release so far, but was easy to use, get weekly streaming/download updates. Plan to use it as a supplement to Bandcamp in the future.

@headfirstonly You are more than welcome to join in and participate. It's likely that more than one person may not complete an album. If it were easy, we wouldn't need the challenge at all. It'd be great to have you.

This is just the encouragement I need. Can't do it now but will def be there post FAWM in April.

That's a good idea John. (Lisening on car speakers). I have picked up on major dropouts that way. In fact the big studios keep a special pair of such speakers handy I am told.

Too many commitments for me to participate this fall. At most I may do another assemblage of live gig recordings to add to my Bandcamp page. Maybe post FAWM.

Although I have had a very unproductive 50/90 - I like a lot of what little I have done and I've also got a couple of tracks from between FAWM and 50/90 that I can include, so it's enough to put a Bandcamp album up in time to meet this challenge.

> -*There is no restriction as to what songs you can use.

So if I don't manage to write a song THIS YEAR I can still participate?

I've at least written enough FAWM and 50/90 songs (and one or two elsewhere) through the previous years to make an album (notice I didn't say GOOD songs).

@benbradley even if you don't write a song THIS YEAR, you can still participate. It's a production challenge. It is not a writing challenge.

You tempt me... I have a Bandcamp account but have never posted an album to it. I have several songs that I consider some of my best that have never made it past a 'song demo' arrangement. I have an idea for a concept album, or at least a thematically consistent one. And since beginning FAWM and 50/90 in 2010 I have written many songs that deserve a better demo.

Lots of reasons to try this. My only fear is that it loses its spontaneity and becomes the grueling grind it out series of studio sessions that FAWM and 50/90 never have a chance to become. The first take is better than the perfect take, because there is no perfect take.


Just joined up... maybe a Christmas album? I already have a couple of original Christmas songs written and recorded so maybe a couple of public domain ones thrown in

sph's picture

I'm not fully decided on participating myself but I'll be lurking to see/hear the progress.

I hoping to get an album plus a few "singles" out of the challenge. And I started an "article" (really just a post) about the various roles in a producing an album, but that might have to wait a bit. Trying to make the challenge more of a resource to people just getting started on their albums as well as a useful place (for encouragement) to those who have done it before.

At any rate, you are more than welcome if you choose to do an EP or Album (or even a single or three.)

I'll have to check out the Facebook page for this (I did join). Once 50/90 ends I'd like to be more active on that page and on the skirmish site.
I've realized that between FAWM and 50/90 I have enough instrumentals to do another yoga-music album. (I have a 14-song album called Root to Rise that I did two years ago.)
Now I'm motivated to complete the instrumental idea that I've had brewing for a few days - with 56 songs already this 50/90, I don't need to add to my count, so I needed a push. And 57 songs is so close to 60, and there are skirmishes this weekend ...
@tcelliott mentioned singles - that's an interesting consideration in putting together an album. When I did a couple of kids folk music albums back in 2007 and 2009, I did give away some CD singles as promos. Although I'm not ever going the physical CD route again, I do have a song from my yoga album that I've performed and used more than others - I guess that's the single.