50/90 FAQ
This is the official 50/90 help documentation. If you have a concern related to the project or website that isn't addressed here, let us know through the forums or contact page, and we'll add it!

Basic Rules
What's going on here?
We're attempting to write 50 songs in the 90 days, from July 4th to October 1st.

Isn't that crazy?
Maybe. Think of 50/90 as a big, free, 3-month-long, international songwriting workshop that only requires an Internet connection (instead of a plane ticket and hefty registration fee). Other 5090ers will become your friends and accountability partners; sources of feedback and creative growth.

So... you mean I have to write, produce, and record, 1 song every 2 days or so?
Well, our focus here is on songwriting, not recording. Rough demo recordings are encouraged if you are able (see below). But don't let production values get in the way of your creative process, there's plenty of time for that later.

What constitutes a "song"? Can I write instrumentals?
Pop songs, instrumentals, "sound art," whatever. The goal is to be challenged, build community, and have fun... by whatever musical means.

What if I only write lyrics?
That's cool, too. In fact (if you're game) there's a good chance that another 5090er wants to collaborate by setting your words to music. Just ask around in the forums.

How long should my songs be?
As a loose guideline, aim for 3 minutes.

I really can't start until July 4th?
You must wait until July 4th (your local time) to start writing. If you have a lonesome hook or idea you've been wanting to work out for months, it's OK to finally structure a song around it. Or, if you're planning a concept album it's OK to start doing research. Just don't take any old song and say you wrote it during 50/90. !!!!Note: the website will unlock song posting at midnight July 4th at the international date line (more details below).

What happens if I use a song I really wrote earlier?
Nothing. But you'd be a cheater. You're not a cheater, are you?

What do I get for "winning"?
50 new songs and the admiration of your songwriting peers.

Is 50/90 really free?
It is to you, but not to us. To help cover development and operating costs, we suggest making a donation. If you donate US$10 or more you get a nifty icon by your name, and for various additional amounts, we'll mail you cool FAWM swag like CDs and stickers, too. You can donate here.

I don't think I can make it to 50 songs. Should I even try?
YES!! You will surprise yourself. Besides, let's say you only write two. That's still more than zero, right?

Well, do they have to be good songs?
That's the goal... some will be good, some maybe less so. If you're feeling iffy about a tune, just hammer it out ("fawm it") and move on, but don't give up. A salvageable line or melody may still come out of it. 50/90 will definitely help you grow as a songwriter.

Do I have to post lyrics and demos of my songs?
Nope. You're only required to post a title for each new song so we can track your progress. Notes, lyrics, MP3 demos, etc. are optional. A cool thing about 50/90 is garnering feedback from fellow songwriters, but some may not be able to or even want to record/post demos of their songs, and that's fine.

What quality should my demos be?
Good enough for a rough idea of the song. Some people put a lot of effort into their demos, others just sketch them out. But the point here is to write 50 songs, not record them, so don't get too hung up on it unless you really want to.

If I post lyrics or demos, does FAWM/"50/90" own the copyright?
NO WAY! Check out the footer of every page, or review the Terms of Use. Your songs are yours.

What are the weekly "challenges"? Do I have to do them?
Challenges aren't compulsory. We all hit writer's block, and the challenge each week offers a theme or structure to work around. It's totally optional, but may help you toward the 14 song goal. It's also fun to see how other fawmers interpret the criteria.

Can I write a concept album?
Sure! It's even encouraged! Famers and 50/90ers have been doing this for years. Rock operas, musical interpretations of classic literature, songs themed after elements of the periodic table, you name it. In 2006, a triple-whammy of fawmers combined forces to write a three-disc tribute to all the presidents in U.S. history, which was released as a triple-CD set in 2008 to much critical acclaim.

What about collaborative songwriting?
This is also encouraged. Though, if you are in a band with several songwriters, see if you can collaborate on all of them. The website even officially supports posting songs as collaborations between multiple songwriter accounts.

Is there an age limit on participation?
You must be at least 15 years old. You can be as old as you like.

Great! Where do I sign up?
Why, on the sign up page of course!

Website Features !!
Where are my important emails from 50/90 (e.g., the one with my account password)?
It possibly got caught in your spam filter. Add "@fawmers.org" emails to your white list and scan your spam folder for emails with subject lines like "Welcome to 50/90!"

No dice. Still not getting 'em.
Some email providers (AOL, we're looking your direction) are notoriously bad at killing our automated messages without even putting them in your spam folder. Go to the contact page and fill out a "Technical Problems" report, and we'll look into it for you!

The website looks a little screwy sometimes. Is something wrong?
If you are browsing the internet with Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer 8, everything should be fine. However, if you use an older (e.g., IE7) or less common browser, you may run into some incompatibilities. We recommend installing Chrome for a good 50/90 experience, as it's free and works on most computers.

I'm having other problems.
Then check out the forums, where other fawmers can probably help out, or the 50/90 admins will try to address them.

When can I start posting songs?
Song posting is unlocked midnight at the end of July 4th on the international date line. That's 9pm in Tokyo, or 12 noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), 7am in New York, 3am in Anchorage, etc. You may post songs up until the same time on October 1 (i.e., as long as it's still 50/90 somewhere in the world).

What do all the funny icons mean?

  • User donated $10 or more to 50/90, and totally rocks
  • Song demo can be streamed from the 50/90 site.
  • Song demo video can be watched from the 50/90 site.
  • Song demo is available at another website
  • Song is Lyrics Only
  • NSFW: Song content may be Not Safe For Work
  • Private: this song is only available to the author
  • Favorite: The songwriter deems this song a keeper and wants more comments on it
  • Feast/Skirmish: Songs written during a speed songwriting exercise
  • Song you have commented on

I donated! Where are my rock hands?!?
At the moment, donor icons are updated manually by volunteers. So it might take a couple of hours for it to process. If it's been longer than 24 hours, feel free to contact us about it.

What's my "watchlist?" How do I manage it?
If you're logged in, you can keep track of songs and artists in your watchlist. Just go to their artist profile and click the "Add" or "Remove" buttons (when logged in). You can view your watchlists in the "My Watchlist" section of the left menu.

What are "zongs" (on the "songs" page)?
That's our term for "Zero-comment sONGS." It's a way to quickly find and give feedback on songs that may otherwise slip through the cracks. You may also want to check the glossary for other "fawmisms."

I have MP3 demos. Does 50/90 host them?
If you want us to! 50/90 does offer hosting to those that donate $25 or more. See the Merch/Donations page for more info. If you already have webspace of your own, or $25 is too rich for your blood, there are several other ways to get your demo heard on 50/90, including Soundcloud, Bandcamp or other file hosting options.

I direct-linked to MP3s on my own web site. Uhm, why do I sound like a chipmunk (or Barry White)?
Your file is probably sampled at a rate other than 44.1 kHz (most likely 48 kHz). Try resampling your file, and encoding it at 128kbps MP3 file. It will load faster and be compatible with our player.