who else is bending the 50/90 rules a little?

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confession: i’m using 50/90 as both an excuse to write a ton more songs AND an excuse to finish rough production on songs that are already written. my “writer’s block” is actually not what most people say they experience when they’re blocked. i have no problem writing a lot of material. my hangups are getting it into a listenable and sharable format, and then releasing it into the world. where i need the most practice is recording things quickly so the song ideas can be communicated. and since there is no 50/90 police except all you amazing community members, i hope this isn’t seen as an insult to the experiment! i’m still committed to the spirit of writing songs from scratch, and feel a 3-new-songs-for-every-1-old-song ratio will serve me best throughout this process.

what are your thoughts? are you sorta-kinda bending the rules for your 50/90 experience too?

We see this sort of question often.

The 50 in 90 is a target of sorts, not an obligation. There is no prize for crossing this line, other than whatever satisfaction you gain from having done so. If you're creating a lot of new and original content, that's awesome, and upholds the spirit of what this challenge is about.

It's frowned upon to post songs that were wrought to a final standard before the challenge, but that's not what you're doing. I suspect people would be more receptive to seeing the fruits of an effort you put in during the challenge. There's an enduring myth of a 'finishing/polishing month' in which participants devote time and effort to finishing rough demos produced during the challenge, but this never amounts to much in reality. I can see the usefulness in 5090 as a platform to turn rough into diamonds.

Also, the content is original, and that is generally approved of. We do have a month for covers - Rocktober - and prefer that cover artists wait until then.

To answer your second question: there are users who do not consider lyrics to be songs in any meaningful sense, so I suppose they would consider my participation year in to be a bending of the rules. They are welcome to die on this silly hill if they so please.

Rocktober has become another "enduring myth"! Smile

As for this challenge, do what you feel good about. Anything that helps ya finish songs is good IMHO!

I don't see improving drafts or even rewriting older songs as being against the ethos of 50/90, I have not done either yet, but I have a number of songs that I would like to improve on and get the opinions of the group

I don't see anything wrong with finishing bits and bobs of songs. The point is not to have a polished, product that's "listenable and shareable" . To paraphrase Shakespeare, the song's the thing, not the production. I'm guessing that's what you meant? Unless you meant the song itself is not listenable because lyrically or melodically it needs to be improved.

I am new to this, so of course I read the "rules" before I started. I felt that taking something that was just a hook, chorus or hot mess and sitting down and actually finishing it was ok by definition. There has been nothing but support and positive feedback on here and I feel so humbled with every comment. Very grateful I was told about this. Smile

@johnstaples - I know what you mean about Rocktober. For a couple of years I was really into it, but for the last couple of years I don't think I've done anything for it. Maybe we can think of some way to breathe some life back into it this year.
This 50/90, I have two sets of lyrics that were more than have finished before July 4. Also, I recorded a chord progression I really liked on acoustic guitar, and when I finished I realized it was really close to a full instrumental. I'm adding music to the lyrics and re-recording the instrumental, and I'll make mention of that when I post.
And I think that's a good idea for anything anyone posts that is sort of pre 50/90 - just a liner note about its origin.

No, never. I don't start writing until the challenge begins. All my tracks are produced within the time limit.

As for Rocktober; for the last couple of years I think I have been the biggest contributer. I'd love to see more participation by others. I don't want it to die a slow death. I love Rocktober!

That's pretty much what I do. I use 50/90 to push myself. I got 50 songs once, and yeah for me, but now I'd rather focus on writing things I can use. So I'll write skirmishes and stuff just to get a song out, but if I have an idea and it's a good one, I'll stick with it as long as I need to get a good 1st draft. If that means sacrificing quantity, I'm good with that. If it means using fragments or partial songs that I started before 50/90, I'm good with that too. If it means rewriting a song from years past, okay. This year I promised myself that I would finish a CD of stuff I wrote previously. I have to get on that as I have quite a few more songs to rerecord in order to meet that goal (those songs will not be going up, but if I finish the CD it will go in shameless self promotion).

If a FiNiner posts a song that uses previous ideas or even partial starts I want to know that in the liner notes. But I think it's perfectly acceptable. (Just a personal opinion.)

re: Rocktober - Back when we were trying to finish albums there was a bit more of a push, I think. I just got tired of Beatles albums and it's hard to agree who else to cover. That being said, I think if someone said, I want to do THIS album, who is with me? we would probably get a little bit more of a push. Honestly, though, it was never a huge event.

@littlespiral I think its very honest and open of you to 'confess' to using some older material and finishing things you had already started. It seems a good use of your time on 50 90 to do that. Sometimes people add in the liner notes for a song that it was started before 50 90 - that always seems to me to be a useful way to present the finished song. By the way I liked your mention of the 50 90 police. I imagine them in uniforms sporting military style microphones instead of guns and then patrolling the streets on the lookout for pre-50 90 songs or covers. Specialist plagiarism squads would sit in detector vans and use an advanced form of Shazam software to stake out suspects' apartments and stage spectacular dawn arrests before bringing the 'criminals' in to face the full force of the songwriting court system. The severest penalties would be doled out to anyone caught smuggling a spot of Coldplay into a song. The whole thing would be funded by Taylor Swift of course. Wink

Beethoven kept a sketch book where he wrote down snippets of music he found or thought of during the day. Artists, poets, authors, and even politicians have kept journals and diaries where they kept ideas to be completed later. I see FAWM and 5090 as a time for songwriters to make the time to put those ideas together. Your writing process is yours to define, and while others with more experience can offer guidance of proven techniques they've defined, at the end of the day, it's entirely up to the creator of whatever they create to say how they work.

Some songs I write come out and are completed in minutes, but even those are made up from ideas I've had and snippets I've found or borrowed.

Own your process and create. Critiques and opinions are like elbows, everyone has a couple. Write your songs and enjoy your process.

Where do people post songs for Rocktober? Is it like a Facebook thing?

Re: bending the rules - I've never taken another song and polished it up for FAWM/5090, and I don't think I would, but it doesn't bother me one bit if other people are doing that. Mixing and mastering a song is still hard work. A few times I have seen some new person just drop a whole album they wrote last year all at once, but I think they just misunderstood the challenge part and aren't intentional cheats. I'll still probably listen though if I have time.

I don't thin polishing previously written stuff is necessarily the reason the challenge was made for, but I also don't think it's a terrible idea to use 50/90 to reinvent old stuff. I don't personally so that because I like writing new stuff. That's the most exciting part for me. Maybe if I did take more time to rewrite, rework and polish, my songs would be better. Smile

Last I checked Rocktober was hosted fawmers.org, but that may have changed. I don't recall the full url, and can't find it.

@airbagtester; stay tuned for an entire Rocktober thread, probably appearing some time in September.

All my productions are rough. But, "where i need the most practice is recording things quickly"? That sounds like skirmish skills.

Skirmish skills solve all problems. Well, except what to do with all these songs. Wink

I kinda feel like there's nothing that needs to be done with all these songs, but that doesn't make it a worthless pursuit at all. I feel like all these songs just help hone and polish skills, plus it's just fun to create something. Now something might be done with some of the better songs, but for me at least, it's not necessary to feel pressure to write 50 fantastic songs.

@Fuzzy Thanks for the heads up!

@Valerie Cox I agree with you regarding the songs. I sort of ascribe to the 60/30/10 rule, so when I create 50 songs, 5 of them are awesome, and if I want an album with 14 awesome songs on it, I need to write 140.

I sort of repeat myself a lot with the "skirmish skills" line, but anymore 140 songs doesn't feel like a challenge and I owe that entirely to the stuff I've practiced for skirmishes.

If it's your first Challenge or Fawm you should follow the rules and do everything by the book. Don't use any pre-50/90 title, melody or line. Start every song from scratch. It's easy.That way you get this unique experience of creating something out of nothing, in a limited time under pressure. Then you don't have the luxury of posting an old song whenever you don't feel the creative vibes. Then you have to go after inspiration with a club.

Now if you've done 50/90 several times then you can cheat some. I think you can use one old song for every Challenge you've done. I can now use four. Of course I never cheat. And if I did I wouldn't admit it.

And I didn't have sexual relations with that woman! Smile

Somewhere, sometime in the past there was a challenge called "Finish Friday" where the object was to take an idea that had been laying around and make it into a song. I have done that a few times here and in FAWM. It's never more than a riff or a little theme or short progression. Rarely it could be as much as a rough chorus. I went through the archives the other night and found a few that I might use this 50/90. If I do such a thing, I always mention it in the liner notes and tag it "Finish Friday". Works for me.

If I should ever finish or rework older ideas, I would mention it in my liner notes. I'm usually too busy coming up with new unfinished ideas to rework.

I just posted a song that my band made up on Tuesday, about 3 hours before 50/90 started in our timezone. It almost doesn't feel like cheating. I hope I can sleep tonight.

I use to spend about 5 hours a day putting together a song from scratch. I usually always started by writing some new lyrics followed by the long process of recording and mixing the tracks.. Who got time for that? Not me. There is no way I can ditch my responsibilities in favor of making up a new song. I have time to write a song, yes, but recording....I'm too much of a perfectionist.

For those who don't know, the original Yahoo group 5090 was 98 percent lyrics only. I don't think the people who made the rules expected this challenge to morph into an audio group. However, I do think they were closed minded about using pre-existing material. We talked about that 13 years ago. The rules, to the best of knowledge, was that lyrics only qualifies as a song if the writer intended the material to be placed to music eventually. The audio only (extremely rare in 2005) tunes qualified as a song if the writer intended that lyrics would be written for the work. That said, these were only 5090 guidelines and I don't remember anybody ever being accused of cheating. They wanted us to be original. They wanted us to win the challenge. I've been there and done that multiple times so I actually don't feel any stress at all about making the 50 new songs. Oh, and I too have noticed some 5090 members dropping their preexisting albums into the challenge. Whatever, you know? That's not what this challenge is and when people get hip to what they are up to (very smart people in here) they will end up with a bunch of zongs.

I haven't yet, but I have some lyric from last year that I wish had melody. I kind of want to collab with 2017-Darci to get them created. Collaborations aren't cheating so maybe time-travel collabs would only be slightly bending the intent. I would 100% fess up that the lyric was penned in 2017 within the liner notes. One song was based on a story from my great-nephew and he wanted electric guitar in it. I don't play such fun things so would be at the mercy of a 50/90 friend to add in a little electric once I came up with the melody. It would make my great-nephew smile so I'd love to make it happen.

I wrote 300+ songs the past few years. Some of them I never printed lyrics. Most of them I didn't demo.
Part of my plan this year is to cut apart old partial songs, take the parts that work, throw out the parts that don't work, and try to make MUCH better songs.
I want to learn from my past mistakes. (I'm hoping I'm a better artist this year.)

Man, I do so much reworking old songs, finishing old ideas, etc... I don't really write much at all outside of FAWM and 50/90, so for me it would be totally counterproductive to exclude everything that I started in FAWM and didn't have time to finish. For some people this is about the challenge of coming up with totally new stuff; for others, it's something else. For me it's just... the only way I can really write, any more. I need a crazy challenge, a large lively community of potential listeners, and an absolute ton of inspiring new music to listen to.

I am definitely totally breaking the 50/90 rules. My first two songs are updated from songs I wrote during FAWM lol

Look for my lyrics / song down the 50/90 road called "Break all the Rules" and maybe that fits? Biggrin lol

iveg-- yeah, I like the idea of a set day when everyone has to take an old song and BREAK it to pieces, and redo from the ground up. That would be fun.

& Far as I'm concerned, messing with rules is part of the musician manifesto.

I would love to do Rocktober this year. I've never tried it before. Also, I do bring in some chorus hooks/guitar riffs and sometimes lyrics from pre-50/90, for at least one or two of my songs each year. And after reading this post, I was inspired to post an entire song I recorded before 50/90 started. So, yes! http://fiftyninety.fawmers.org/song/32704

This challenge is not for everyone. I've said that for more than 10 years. What we need is another challenge for folks who think 50 songs in 90 days is out of reach. That way they can do their own thing and NOT lose the 5090 challenge. For example, 1 song a week for 12 weeks. That's perfect for audio guys and gals. If you took one week to work on one song (I don't care how many hours it takes) you probably would come up with music you can live with. In other words, be proud of your music knowing that everything you worked on you actually gave 100 percent. Also, I think I mentioned above, the original 5090 group was mostly lyrics only. Having done 50 audios (all had vocals and lyrics) in 90 days back in 2007 was extremely difficult to do. Most of the original 5090 members were writing 5 or 6 lyrics songs per week. I read all of those lyrics too (includes Larry W Jones) because the Yahoo group worked with email. Every post that came into the group went straight to my email so I could see the lyrics and make comments in email. In many ways, it was a lot easier to keep up with the group. Those days are gone now as Yahoo groups collapsed and the preferred format was a web forum such as this one.

Well, 50 songs in 90 days is just a guideline; no one's going to haul you out and shoot you in the street if you don't complete it.
Just enjoy doing what you can get done.

@jcollins, I'd really love to see another FAWM-type challenge in August...15 songs in 30 days or something like that. For me, I relish the frenzy and participation numbers of FAWM. And I don't need 50 more draft songs anyway! Smile I'd rather play one night in front of a decent crowd than 7 nights to an empty room.

@johnstaples - Too late for August, but September Album Writing Month (FAWM) could be a challenge. I'd be up for it - I was just thinking the other day that after I hit 50, I'd like to do something cohesive in whatever time is left.
If we started a thread about it more toward the end of the month, I bet some folks would join in. Enough to make it interesting and encouraging.
And in the spirit of the original idea of the thread - I found on my phone 4 recordings I did in early June of Costa Rica rain forest sounds. I'm going to put some music to it.

@Chip Withrow, are you talking about just doing it inside the 50/90 site/event? If so, it might be fun but would be limited to whoever is left here and I suspect that is not a large number.

I was thinking of something separate that would, of course, require time and effort to set up and promote in order to get a following. I strongly believe there would be a group of FAWMers, less than the FAWM count but perhaps larger than the 50/90 crowd, who would participate in a Summer FAWM. Maybe I'm wrong but I know I'd sure love to have another event of FAWM's duration and intensity halfway between FAWMs!

It should be possible to add a trophy on this site for, say, 12 or 14 songs in 27 days (July 4-31.) I'd actually rather it be in September, but with school etc., I'm not sure how feasible that'd be.

But if it were my suggestion, I'd say set up a challenge within a challenge to write/post 14 songs in September and get a special trophy. It would bring in more life at the end of the 50/90 challenge and it would require very little additional support in comparison to starting something completely new. Obviously, Eric would have to be asked to do the work and approve the idea if there is enough interest in it to pursue.

Or do a Facebook challenge like GYAWS or the like for the month. You could even post the songs on 50/90 and link to the fb group. But I'm kind of burnt on the whole fb group thing, so it's not my preference.

With the erraticness and chaos I can't seem to throw off (not all bad), I'm trying to run 3 FE's (FAWM Equivalents) in a row. I managed for July, haven't even started for August. I think a difficulty with 50/90 is also its attraction, which is marathon (where half the serious runners seem to collapse with exhaustion or muscle meltdown.) I think @jcollins put the problem best. I only managed a "complete" 50/90 in 2009, and I was able to keep moving on it then. And okay, that gave me (among other thigns) an opera, which turned out to be a Chinese curse ("may you live in interesting times'), squared.

I suppose I'm bending the rules a bit.

I don't post all the songs I write to keep my numbers down.

Once I have 50 posted, I'll be hiding some of them so that only 50 are visible at a time.

@tcelliott - That's what I was thinking - a September challenge within 50/90. All I think we need is a new forum thread.
But then again, I like 50/90 a whole lot as is and I'm absolutely fine with the amount of activity in our online community.

I've have bent the rules quite a bit this year, reworking two old songs. I'm a bit more of a sticker during FAWM, because I usually intend to 'win' that thing legitimately. As for the 5090, I have absolutely no intention of winning it, so I use it as a prod and follow any idea that pops into my head.

Hopefully, I can turn this thing around pretty soon. All I need do is crank out lyrics until I have 50. Since I usually start with lyrics I expect to be able to deliver on the audio eventually. I have to commit to doing that though. 50 lyrics on the board and I can add audio to all. Remember, the original rules were lyrics count if you intend to add audio eventually. Therefore, unless you simply can't write lyrics, everybody should be able to win this challenge. I'll try to get started today. My plan will be what I said to write the lyrics first and keep moving, do the audio later.

Most of what I make for this and FAWM are new songs from scratch.
BUT - I do go back to old unfinished songs that have sat around as-is forever, or things that are in my "garbage" folder...and try to resurrect them, too!
The new parts I add during 50/90 - lyrics, vocals, rearranging or expanding the composition, putting in solos new instrumentation, blahblahblah...its all original production and its all during 50/90.
Most of my stuff that I do this with was originally an 8 bar loop, and I take it and make it into a full song, adding all of or most of the things I mention above. And things that were songs already, I usually change them up into something much more involved and evolved.
I feel good about it. Its a valid 50/90 song because I WORKED on it and FINISHED it during 50/90.

I'm now thinking about bending the rules as I ahve to shut down by Sep 21st. There are songs created in the last fortnight in June knowing I was going to be gone for the first half of july. I'm tempted to throw then in toward the end (which as I said is Mid September for me). Naughty naughty...

@Tim Fatchen, not naughty at all! Upload 'em and maybe get a comment or three.

@johnstaples I took your advice, thanks. That must make you an accessory before the fact, right?

Yeps!!! Biggrin

What I'm thinking is posting songs that were sort of written during FAWM 2018 but were left in an unfinished state (one track, for example, has no lyrics to it, whilst others do have lyrics and music but had no vocals). Basically, I want to use part of this challenge as an excuse to get the songs "finished" (i.e. have vocals on top of them).
Is it against the rules to do so?