Any members of the "Fifty Full Songs" Club?

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So has anyone succeeded in posting 50 "full music-and-vocal" songs (which for present purposes I'm defining as 50 recordings that all include lyrics and music and performance of the aforementioned lyrics to the aforementioned music) during 50/90?

And if so ... how the heck did you do it? Smile Try to steadily do a song basically every other day? Do 4 or 5 each weekend? Do bursts of 10 or 20 or more every few weeks? Did you have a strict time limit for each song?

I suspect that the overarching principle is just "Get it done now, don't edit or worry about quality or fix anything until later," But I'm wondering if anyone who's accomplished this feat has more specific advice.

I have NOT accomplished this and will likely never do it. But if I were gonna try I might do a personal mini-superskirmish (4 songs) once per week. Any time I am looking to bump up my count, skirmishes always come through for me! And I find the songs I create that way are on average as good as or better than my regular writing style!

Nice thing about this plan is you still have 77 days to apply polish if you want! And you can still follow your planned themes by simply providing your own titles/starters in advance!

Depends on what you mean by "full music". I've written and recorded 50 songs for this 3 or 4 times, but some of them were just guitar+vocal recordings and not full blown productions. So how did I do it? I love writing songs. Sometimes did 2 songs a day. Wrote lyric ideas at work. Didn't worry if the songs sucked. Had lots of inspiration from a tragic personal life. :P

@Valerie Cox, writing 50 "guitar & vocal" songs absolutely counts -- I'm amazed at your accomplishment, and even more so that you've succeeded 3-4 times! I'm still not sure if I'm going to embark down that road yet, but if I do, you'll certainly be an inspiration to me that it can be done!

I had a total of 78 or 79 one year. Most had music and vocals although I did have a few instrumentals in there. I'm more than positive there were more than 50. I would have to check, but I think I've done that a few years out of the last 8 attempts.

Lots of ways to do it. No one strategy is going to work, imo. So I had a two week break which let me recharge my batteries. I hit a ton of skirmishes. I did several "feasts" of writing several songs in one sitting, I participated in some collabs. The year before last I got 14, though. So it definitely isn't consistent.

I've done it a few times. I've always had some bursts and resting periods in the mix.

One year, @hoops @timwille and I did 51 songs collaboratively in 24 hours, each writing 17 sets of lyrics, 17 backing tracks and 17 vocal melodies.

Right now I do a lot of a capella improvisation, there are people who do improvisations with an instrument, though. This is on my planned growth trajectory. (Shortly after "get finances straightened out enough to buy an instrument" -- which I'm working on now.)

I know last FAWM at least one person succeeded with the 3in10 challenge with an instrument. (Three improvised songs in 10 minutes, with each song being at least two minutes long.)

I've done it a couple times. Most notable would be the 2007 international collaboration with Luke Adro (Garden of Ash). How did we do this? Bust butt everyday until it was done. It took all 90 of the challenge days to get it done! Most of the time I finished in the 30's (with audio, vocals). It just depends of how you come into the challenge. If you think or know you can't do it then you won't do it. You have to be persistent and dedicated to getting it done. The times I did not make it was because I lost interest in the second half and stopped.

I'm just amazed at the productivity of the members of this group. It's really inspiring! @nancyrost, that 51/1 is amazing (and perhaps a bit scary Wink ).

The only way I would get 50 full is by doing a LOT of collabs. That's my plan for this year.

i did it my first 50/90, though the bulk of them were guitar and vox live videos to youtube. since then, i have either only gotten a handful of songs, as when i took on two jobs a couple of summers ago and got 5 songs or so, or overshot the mark on lyrics but had very few demos. i just moved and cannot really set up the studio nor do i see myself able to do video demos this year, as i moved home to help out my aging folks. i do plan on setting up overseas crates in the basement and setting up my studio down there, but that will not be any time soon. so, i got it done once, but only with live gtr + vox demos.

@OdilonGreen, you made me realize how crazy this Challenge really is. I'm not sure if I ever get to Win. I can only try.

I'd forget any acoustic instruments and go full midi. With midi ( loops, templates, arpeggios etc.) you can demo fully everything even at night without disturbing neighbours.

For lyrics: ABCB rhyming scheme. Four lines with only two rhymes is easy and it still has structure. I'd write only two verses and a chorus, maybe a short bridge, but basically do a solo to every song instead. I would spend some time to come up with a good first line and one really good line somewhere else to give the impression that there actually is some substance in the lyrics after all.

Music-wise I'd add experimental sections, intros, bridges, outros. Nobody would know how they are supposed to go. And they could sound pretty cool anyhow.

For melody I'd add long notes and pauses, to give the melody more drama and time to breath, this would also make a simple four-line verse work.

But this is not enough. I'd have to cut down commenting and forums too. Smile That's no fun!

My totals have varied from 62 to 90, some lyrics only, some instrumentals only. A few improvisations. Not sure if that meets the definition of 50 full songs. How do I do it? I work full time and have other obligations so I jot down notes for ideas. I write on lunch hour and weekends. When writing, I treat most songs with a skirmish approach using time limits, an hour or so per song, simple rough demo, one-take where possible, then post and move on. A list of titles or themes in advance, practice and learn new songs and skills in between. I continue writing a song a week between challenges. The more I write, the more ideas flow.

In times long gone, we used to be able to sort participants by their progress. We had a lot of success stories in 2008; although I remember @nancyrost composing a song gently ribbing Meg for having 'only' 38 of her songs demoed.

Just putting it out there, but instrumentals aren't just songs without lyrics...making fifty "complete" instrumental recordings would be an amazing success too! Smile I only do instrumentals, and haven't been able to pull off fifty yet Sad Hoping to get closer this year!

@Mosley, absolutley! I've heard some truly amazing instrumentals during FAWM and 50/90.

When @mike skliar did the curating for FAWMpilation volume 7.2, he added a bonus half-FAWM's worth of instrumental tracks, which are quite varied but all enjoyable.

I usually try to do full demos of all my songs. Mind you, during 50/90 last year I only managed to post 6 songs. So maybe I'm not the best example.

@Mosley I don't think I can make 50 instrumentals in 90 days. Well, I could drop loops and bass No, I mean serious musical substance instrumentals. If I get into that, the hours will add up fast and I am sort of out of shape musically right now. I can't even pick up my guitar, turn the recorder on, sing some lyrics off a sheet of paper right no no it doesn’t sound good. Actually, during the challenge, I always start with guitar-vocals and lyrics while constructing chord sequence I would use. That said some of the best music I have ever made is instrumentals. Also, I get tired of trying to sing, listing to my singing, listening to professionals singers singing. Sometimes it just gets on my nerves. Yeah, I am going to do a bit of instrumental this year. I plan to take my time on those instrumentals too.

I did it my first year and have not done it since. it was hard. I had like 18 skirmish songs that year if I remember correctly. which makes since as I have written about 30 to 32 songs every other year.

The one year I crossed the 50 mark I only did 28 all by myself. Most of the rest were with my daughter who attempted to do a song for each of the 50 states that year. So...since she's a mini-me does that still count Smile

The key for me, whether I do 10 or 50, is to create without my inner critic getting in the way. I'm learning that inner monster prevents me from being creative at all - good as well as bad. I'm not a professional singer/songwriter so don't need to worry about reputation. I'm vowing to just let them flow this summer!!

@AndyGetch said, "The more I write, the more ideas flow." Yes! That's a big key for me. The process of writing often helps me train myself to get into creative flow on call. A key component to success at 50/90. And as @darcistrutt said, shutting down the " inner monster" is a must.

What Darci said--whether it's ten or 50--it's all good. Some newcomers or "would be's" are discouraged from trying like--Why I can't write 50 songs in 90 days.!! Makes no difference. Everybody writes what they have time and inspiration for. Whatever you write, you're that many songs ahead. Just have at it

I did get vey close one year with about three or four lyrics only to complete the 50, the real challenge is to let go and stop self censoring.

Right on Gerry!!!
Censoring is for later--50/90 is for WRITING !!

Just to be clear, I absolutely agree with @wyatt and @darcistrutt (and others) that reaching 50 is an arbitrary accomplishment, and that the real goal is to write whatever, and however many, songs as one wants, whether that's pushing oneself to reach 50 or setting a different goal or just seeing what happens. That relaxed nature of this place is one of the things I enjoy so much about 50/90. I've personally done "only" 25 or so songs each of the three times I've previously participated, and couldn't be happier with my output. The point of my question was simply, to the extent I might want to push myself to reach 50 lyric-and-music songs this year, to seek tips from others who'd accomplished that particular goal. Smile

Yes. Did it by ignoring work and family obligations. Kidding. Probably. Smile

Kidding/Not Kidding

I doubt I'll make the 50/90 goal. I did over 30 songs for FAWM, but little else that month, and burned myself out a bit. I'm gonna write when I can, and do what I think sounds good. If I make 50, I make 50, if I make 1, I've made one. Anything is progress, and progress is desired over perfection. Smile

My first FAWM, I mostly recorded random songs I sang to my kids (many at bedtime). I somehow managed to win.
But that November, I made a Christmas album and averaged a song a day. (Started on the 1st, releasing on November 21st with 21 songs.)
The following FAWM resulted in a complete, cohesive 12-track art concept album (with full sheet music).
Last year's 50/90, I did 50 lyrics.
This year's FAWM I did 50 crapcapella demos (or better)
This year's 50/90...?

I'd like to believe I could pull off the skill progression and hammer out 50 with some sort of instrumentation. I experimented with some non-acapella stuff during FAWM... And the concept I'm going for this year's 50/90 should work with my skill level...

For me, 90% of making it work is finding a project that works with my skill level, and the other 10% is just doing the work. (This is for winning either FAWM or 50/90.)

An important point, too, though, is my belief that the only way to make good music quickly is to practice making good music quickly. The speed of the work is as important as the final quality as I want to continuously improve both. My end-goal? To take a one-hour time-frame, take 10 minutes to sketch out three ideas, take the best idea and fold in a multitrack instrumental backing, then mix it and upload it with time to use the restroom and make myself a sandwich.

@yam655 I agree, practice making good music quickly. I've heard multiple people (outside of this group) say that if you write 50 songs in 90 days the songs won't be good. They swear up and down that good music takes time to develop. I don't totally disagree with them but it sure sounded like an excuse to validate their stand against 5090. I think the first 10 minutes is the most important part. What is your idea for a song? If that ideal is good you might make a good song. However, when we jump on bad ideas to get a song up on the board, and this is from my experience, it leads to wasted time because after the challenge nobody will listen except me...and a lot of times I don't like it "what was I thinking when I did this". I wasn't thinking, I was trying to fill my board with songs. Anyway, yes, practice moving quickly and my input for this point is make the right decision in the first 10 save yourself from wasting time working songs that people won't like or listen. We should keep in mind that most of our listeners are probably not songwriters and musicians, and they expect good songs. I understand this is a personal challenge but geez, if you can't even play the song for somebody (I have a lot of them) it must be crap, huh? BTW, I haven't reach this level yet as I make mistakes daily. Currently I can't I have ideas but there is no prosody because my verses keep taking off in different directions. I'll be working on that too. A good idea is probably an idea that others would be interested in hearing. Usually, I can tell by the title of the song. Also, I look at genre they have listed in the tags. Some of the tags are telling me "You won't like this and keep looking". If you are making singing songs you probably are not very interested in instrumentals right now...or you would be doing that too. I mean that to be true for anything and not just instrumental. I don't know very many people who love all styles of music.

(responding to @Stephen Wordsmith post above) I did? jeez, don't even remember! I hadn't thought about that compilation in a long time, great to be reminded of it !

I've done 50/90 just about every year, i think, since 2008. There were I think two or three years when I didnt make it to 50, but probably at least 5 years or more when i did ... how? good question, I do know in presidential election years here in the us (2008, 2012) I was probably so fired up (or mad) about politics that some songs seemed to write themselves- this year, believe it or not, with politics here heating up even more then prior years, i'm almost so sick of the whole thing that maybe i won't even get all that political--- tho, of course, check back in a month, that may (and probably will!) change! Anyway, i think theres no 'one approach' - just write and keep writing, and take breakes here and there but then get back to it.

not sure i'll do 50 this year, but who knows

@jcollins Good ideas make better songs. I try to get a good chorus first. I find it helps me focus the rest of my song, too. If I get something that's really good, but doesn't fit what I'm working on, I can save it for later.

By good I generally mean "memorable". A cliche isn't interesting, because it's been said/ played so many times it's lost most of its emotional impact. C Em F G. That was boring by the 60s. "I'm falling in love with you" = overused, so the rest of the song needs to be stronger.

Ideas that others would be interested in hearing? Right now ManvsRow says that's uptempo, positive, "me" to "you", love [in its many facets], present tense, with lots of imagery. And I hope to write some of those songs this year. But I know I'm also going to write some stuff that explores different areas. Because life isn't always uptempo and positive. Sometimes it's stuck in traffic, surviving a hurricane, laying on the beach looking at stars, or tasting something exotic for the very first time.

I agree with Jerry @jcollins and @iveg. Good ideas make good songs. Often they come with good titles too. Good titles are inspirational. They are very quick to turn into a song.

But... finding good ideas/titles takes time. Smile

Modifying or turning cliche titles around is fast too. "I'm Falling in Love with You" is a cliche but " Everybody's Falling in Love with You " is not. It sounds little bit like a cliche, but when googling I could only find titles with different ideas like "Everybody Falls in Love Sometime" and " Everybody's Falling in Love" etc.

But for example " I Hate to Love You" search did bring up some titles in the similiar vein (with the same idea). Always google your titles. Even if it takes some time.

I've with you @johnstaples on the quality of my skirmish songs being equal to my normal ones. Of course I go back and work and polish them all later, but I've written songs in 20/30 mins in FAWM skirmishes and some are now in production music libraries - just goes to show...

The only year I made it to 50 (2012), it was mostly thanks to doing 12 songs in 24 hours during a superskirmish weekend early on in the challenge. I felt like I was ahead of the game after that and, with the pressure off, ideas kept coming throughout the rest of the challenge.

1 song is a win
50 songs... well that's fifty wins
Russ Dance 4

I gotta say...regarding cliches...USE THEM!!! Who cares if everyone else has written a song that uses "I Love You"...maybe your version will be the best thing yet!! Smile

I love reading folks' different approaches to what they want to accomplish in 50/90. (Also, I love being back in my own house, at my own computer, writing in the forums - I just got back from Walt Disney World with 18 family members for 6 days.)
My approach the last several years has been 50 solo demos, then a bunch of collabs - that amounted to 67 last year. Some of the demos are instrumental, some are a capella (and I just looked up the spelling - looks like it can be one p or two). Right now, I'm leaning toward more instrumentals this year, but that could change.

and as far as googling song titles-- i try not to copy titles, though you cannot copyright a title. but i had a song whose name was obviously "already gone," though it sounded nothing like the eagles song written by Jack Tempchin and Robb Strandlund. so i used that title. and i watched a television show with an episode titled "i love you, goodbye," which sparked a great song which was realized in music by @Dutch Cassidy. i did not know at the time that they had taken their title FROM a song title. i try to avoid using song titles which have already been used, but it isn't set in stone. you cannot copyright a title, even one as distinctive as "sgt. pepper's lonely hearts' club band," though the lyrics can be copyrighted, so you could not use the title for lyrics in that case, likely. as keith richards said:
"There's only one song in the world, and Adam and Eve wrote it.

The last couple days I've come up with more than a hundred titles (phrases) for this years 5090 run. Today I will produce a hundred more. They're not all good but the list never goes on and on and on. The title is the message, and tends to show up in the chorus section of the song. Therefore, my approach this year is to write lyrics for the chorus first. If that don't fly then I will move to Sibelius and make piano music. Smile

Oh, there is a member (sorry, I don't remember his name) who posts hundred of titles each year. So many great ideas and only a handful ever get used. If you know, or you are the person I am speaking of, please check in here. You are an inspirational hero!

I've finally figure out how to make mass titles without overloading my thinking. The technique is to use a verb in the title. Watch how fast your list grows. I've heard action verbs are more visual. Making nouns do things rather than just exist.

I was curious so I went and checked. Here are my totals for the past couple... well 8 years.

2008 51 songs including 4 instrumentals
2009 45 songs
2010 50 songs including 3 instrumentals, and not including the 53 songs I did for the 50 songs in 90 minutes mini challenge (of which most songs are about 45 seconds long)
2011 70 songs including 1 instrumental (also 21 colalbs *wow* and quite a few podcast jingles, intros and outros)
2012 50 songs no instrumentals (includes exquisite corpses)
2013 58 songs with 1 lyric only and 4 exquisite corpses
2014 16 songs
2015 50 songs including 2 instrumentals

So I lied about the 78 or70 that one year. It was only 70.

@tcelliott, that is one impressive 50/90 history!

Thanks everyone for the great thoughts and advice above. I'm still trying to decide whether to really try to hit 50 this time; I'm leaning against it, as super-fast songwriting isn't my style. Which of course might be a good reason to try it. I need to give it some more thought today.

I did it last year (my first try.) I try to write first thing every morning before I do anything else. I usually try to start thinking about the song the night before, so my subconscious has time to work on it while I sleep. The main thing that I do is that I don't worry about writing good songs; just completed songs. I give myself one hour to write a song, and one to record and post it. Sometimes it takes longer, but when I sit down, I set a timer and there WILL be a song completed when the bell goes off. It might stink, but it will have melody, harmony and lyrics. And, about one time in five, a song that would be a good one with a little work emerges, so I count on having 10 songs out of 50 that will be added to my repertoire. AND ... the secret weapon is SKIRMISHES!

@jcollins re the point of writing good songs only - having done a few last year which more than 50 songs completed, one of the song which is proving most popular is songs 375, if i had not written the other 374 it would never have been written, Remember the story of hearing Bruce Springstein wrote 78 songs for Nebraska, thinking that is impossible to do, everyone has to write the average, good and poor songs - just do the song get it over with and start the next one.
Look at all the albums in your collection and if you had to put your best compliation on a 1 GB ipod, how many of ANY album would make it? I can tell you only two complete albums made mine and most were only 2 or 3 songs.....

Good luck to all and just keep writing, you will get better and more efficent at


I'm absurdly ambitious about this. I don't just want to write 50 songs, I want to write 50 good songs. And if I'm going to post them all here, then they have to be finished songs as well, because I don't want to be posting scraps of things in public anymore. I know I can do this, because this is how I've always done it. When I was young and full of beans, I would come home from work and write an album over a weekend. And though my standards are much higher these days, I did manage to finish 50/90 this way the first time I did it in 2008. Actually, finishing 50/90 that year taught me a lot about the process. My songwriting and recording skills were much improved afterwards.

After that first time, I resorted to stunts and tricks to get over the finish line. I tried to follow Helen's example and take on her 50 songs in 90 minutes challenge. I only got twenty done, but some of those later went on to become something. This song is one of them. Then one year, I used a looper pedal to basically improvise ten songs in real time in front of a video camera. That actually worked out pretty well. The last few years, I've upgraded from recording in Audacity to using a proper DAW, and I used 50/90 to learn it. But actually finishing 50/90 stopped being a priority for me. I was pretty much where @jcollins is now -- what's the point in writing 50 songs worth of crap?

This year I'm finally happy with the quality of my recordings. And I'm well placed to take 50/90 seriously again. So I'm going to go for it.

2015 was my first 50/90, and, to my own amazement, I finished more than 50 full-song solo efforts. The creative energy in this community was very contagious! In particular, song skirmishes kept my output high. (And being retired certainly helped. Smile )

While I ended up with a number of keepers last year, I wrote my share of crap songs, too. This year I'm aiming for quality rather than quantity.

@tcelliott - You and I have a similar history. I started 5090ing in 2009 and have hit 50 every year except that first one. This morning, I calculated that between FAWM (first one in 2008), 5090, and just a bit of off-season writing (though I've done 15 or so Facebook skirmishes since last FAWM) I've written close to 600 songs/demos since that first FAWM.
So why do I keep going? Well, now I'm pushing myself even more - and having a blast doing it! I did a song a day for FAWM, and I've started 5090 at a two-a-day pace. I don't know if I'll keep it up until July 21, but that's when I leave for 10 days visiting family in Ohio. I'd love to have a bunch of songs done by then so I can not write new ones for 10 days (or write very little - I don't know if I can turn it off entirely). Maybe I can use my free time there to catch up on commenting - although I'm off to a good start with that, too.

Hi fellow Famwers and 5090ers,

Since I'm in for the challenge and not for the numbers, I wasn't aware there was something like a "Club". Smile Now that I found out about that time machine (, I was really curious whether I ever passed the finish as a "winner". For the record, to me everyone's a winner who knows about the joy of creating music and/ or lyrics. And you are most definitely a winner if you have fear and do it anyway. That's what Fawm and 5090 have realized for me: a breakthrough in showing my raw sketches, sung by myself, as "songs".

Back to the topic: I found out that the first year I participated (2010), I had 60 songs on the list.
I didn't have no memory of that! 10 of them were never uploaded though (they were recorded though), which still makes 50 uploaded songs. 26 of them were collabs, 27 were piano improvisations and instrumentals. So there were only 31 sung songs, of which 4 still needed (better) lyrics.

As usual, I record much more music than I upload, because I have so little time to edit the mistakes and reprises out of it, and to be honest: I still don't consider all of my work to be good enough to be shared with "the world".

The following years I got never past 35 songs. Smile

I'm really in awe of all of you that are capable of realizing so many arranged multi-instrumental songs! You must have a great work ethic, talent and collaboration network. Smile And just maybe a little more time than I usually have, but that's probably just my pretext for not being organized and disciplined enough, and still working too much on my own.

This year I've got more free days than I usually have, so just for fun, I'll give it a try again and go for the 50! If anyone of you is interested in collaborating, please give me a call! Above all, I'd really love to do that more.

§ Roel

This is the only way I do things. I don't consider a song finished until I have a fully arranged demo with a decent mix. Minimum guitar/bass/drums/vocal, with the drums and (usually) the bass being midi. I've only participated once before (2014) and I finished with exactly 50 songs and a couple of days to spare. I did it just by doing it. Every single idea, even ones that clearly suck, is valid and carried through to completion. I enjoy songwriting quite a bit, but I enjoy recording and playing guitar more. Songwriting becomes an excuse.

I haven't posted any songs yet this year, but I actually have 26 at various stages of completion. I might have something to post in a couple of days.