Why aren't there 50/90 CDs?

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There are 6 Fawmpilation albums on the merch site now, but not a one for its summer sister challenge. Why not?

AFAIK, those FAWMpilations are from quite a few years ago and they never sold well enough to justify the expense of creating them. The CDs you see in the store are left over from that era. Since 50/90 is far less active than FAWM there would likely be very little interest in CDs. And of course you can listen here or download songs.

what johnstaples said is exactly right, .... too bad, tho, in a way. that being said, many of us have (or will have) cds of our own material... which i think is a great way to keep getting better-- figure out your best songs from a certain time period, get the best recordings you can, and rinse and repeat depending on how much you're writing, etc.... Smile

And there are other practical reasons too!

With almost 4,000 songs posted how in the world could anyone pick 12 for a CD? You'd make 12 people happy (and maybe get those 12 CD sales) while leaving out the vast majority of participants.

And honestly, most of the songs posted here are not "CD ready" nor should they be! This is a songwriting challenge not a production challenge.

And finally, album sales in general and CDs in particular continue their steep decline.

Music facts of life in the 21st century! Sad

". . . they never sold well enough to justify the expense of creating them."
". . . album sales in general and CDs in particular continue their steep decline."

So maybe don't release it as an actual physical CD, but as a digital downloadable album?

". . . how in the world could anyone pick 12 for a CD? . . .most of the songs posted here are not 'CD ready'"

That should narrow it down some then, no?
I did always wonder how they picked the songs for those FAWM CDs. Anyone around who remembers?

"Since 50/90 is far less active than FAWM there would likely be very little interest in CDs."

It needn't be marketed only to people who participated in that year's challenge - in fact, this could be a good way to get more participants for future 50/90s.

I'm all in favor of people releasing their own material as digital albums, or joining with others, as a private matter, to release their own joint collections.

However, I'd be opposed to an "official" 50/90 album. It strikes me too much as making this into a "contest" of which songs are "best." I think this is contrary to the spirit of the event, and I don't like it for the same reason that I've always opposed the periodic suggestion for "upvoting" of songs onto a leaderboard. (And I also never liked the idea of the FAWM albums for the same reason.)

I think the best promotion to get new people to 50/90 is members' enthusiasm and promotion of the event as "fun for everyone," not an album of highly-polished material that may intimidate many people from deciding to participate. There are already plenty of songwriting/production challenges geared towards polished perfection. I want people to understand that 50/90 (and FAWM) are different.

I mean, it's obviously not up to me, and if the powers-that-be at 50/90 ever decide to release an "official" event album, it's not like I'll storm off in a huff. But I'll certainly make sad-faces over in the corner a little bit.

We did go the digital download route in 2011. This release also sought to address the issue of inclusiveness, as we had nine albums, streamed largely by genre. Over a hundred songs of varying recording quality were submitted, and all were accepted.

No submission fee was charged (in 2009 alone, this stage had raised over 1500 USD, offsetting the production costs significantly).


Burr reported several few years later that there had been a grand total of seven downloads across the nine, thus shattering any illusions anyone had that this endeavour was in any way 1) profitable, 2) embraced by the existing community, and 3) useful as a tool of 'evangelisation' for the challenge, thus killing the three main apologia for having a FAWMpilation in the first place stone dead.

Since you asked, a few words on track selection (something which, commensurate with the growth in participant numbers, the community found increasingly controversial and alienating):

The 14 tracks were chosen by a panel for the first 4 compilations. For #5, anyone could log in (anonymously) to a website and listen to all 150+ submissions, give them a star rating, comment on their appropriateness for inclusion, and end by either recommending or not recommending the song for the album. A panel of three would review the suggestions and decide based on that.

A scatter plot was later released showing how many of the 150 the reviewers managed to get through before casting their vote - most didn't even get through a FAWMpilation of submissions, let alone recommendations, although a certain Mississippi rapper managed to listen to and review each and every one.

The same approach was done in 2010 - we only had 85 submissions that year, and a greater number of people, myself included, made it all the way through them. Again, a panel of three decided. They decided incorrectly, in my opinion; but they did say, rightly, that the quality of submissions had ebbed drastically since 2005. Burr even went on the record saying that his enthusiasm for showing off the fruits of his little challenge was waning.

There was further controversy after the release of Volume 5 - One of the panel off-handedly made a comment as to how nice it was that a whole new set of artists were represented, and that nobody from Vol 4 made an appearance. This was met with slings and arrows from artists who had featured on that album, who believed that they had been doomed from the outset by a covert criterion. They hadn't, but I don't think anyone allowed themselves to be convinced otherwise.

I'm not saying all of this to flat-out dissuade anyone from stitching together a 50/90pilation, if that's what they want. What I am pointing out is the set of obstacles that anyone striving to do so is liable to encounter.

I think there were two problems with the last digital Fawmpliation attempt. One was timing. The second was, in my opinion, fifteen bucks for a cd is easier than ten bucks for one of nine digital downloads. I'm not spending 90 bucks. I would have spent ten. Or fifteen. It was a simple supply and demand problem. If you are going to include every single song (and trust me, we worked very, very hard to do so) then it obviously isn't the same standard as whittling 90 submissions down to 14(ish.)

We are all more than capable of releasing our own material. And, in fact, it was discussed that a small group of participants request permission to release a compilation they hand picked. I was part of at least one discussion about picking our best three songs from three to five artists and releasing bandcamp albums of our material. The idea being the 3-5 artists would be at least loosely similar.

And in, I think 2010, some 50/90ers got together and mailed each other a cd of their best 10-15 songs. Some of us (*cough*me*cough*) didn't actually mail very many of them and let down the group. But lots of music was shared.

To partly counteract issue #2, above, volume 7.1 was touted (unofficially) as the one to download if you were new, didn't know where to start, or wanted to hear the very 'best of'. This was, of course, deeply controversial, and people disregarded the efforts made to ensure that everyone was represented to bellyache that they weren't among the 14 chosen, effectively reverting back to the same problems we had with the physical releases.

For what it's worth, I've listened to .2 and .3 dozens of times, and would recommend both.

The timing was a huge problem, though.

yeah, a full scale 'every 5090 song in competition' thing is just too unwieldy for all the reasons suggested above, but maybe a small unofficial private thing, as tc mentioned, might be the way to go, to the extent someone really wants to get this together.

What i'd love to see happen is that those of us who have put out albums either digitally (bandcamp, etc) or 'physical' kind of form some sort of little online thing ( a website for all that maybe? that has links to the 5090 and fawm individual albums?) so that we can all support each other and hopefully turn some of our friends on to artists they might like, etc... something that's looser then a record label, but sort of acts as a place people can check out each others stuff easily.

any thoughts on that? worth doing? possible?

@mike skliar, if you are suggesting something affiliated with/endorsed by FAWM/50-90 then I would see that as problematic for all of the reasons already stated in this thread. Or, if you are suggesting an unofficial consortium of FAWM/50-90 artists hawking their own stuff as a group effort in the hopes of gaining additional traction that their individual efforts have not achieved, then that would certainly be something that could be done. My cynical opinion would be it is a waste of time and resources if your goal is to make money.

Almost every independent singer-songwriter I know, both in these challenges and outside them, seems to have a very similar story. They either put their stuff on a place like Bandcamp and don't sell any or they release it as physical CDs and don't sell any. I have gone the CD Baby and SoundCloud routes to not sell any of mine!

I hear lots of sad stories about boxes of CDs in closets. CDs that even the relatives won't take and listen to. And there are certainly buttloads of Bandcamp, SoundCloud, etc. compilations that never get any listens or likes much less any purchases!

Yet, with that cynical outlook I still plan to release a couple of CDs! But not to make money. I view it as an opportunity to please myself and maybe brag a little to anyone who will listen.

But, back on topic (I had a "get off my lawn" moment there!) If there is any interest someone should def set up a website and let FAWMers/50-90ers promote their music! It would be yet another way to connect the community!

Everything @OdilonGreen said. Nailed it!

i hear ya, johnstaples- and yeah, im under no illusions that it'll make money! i've seen my own downloads of my music, whether for free or for some modest sum, go down and down (maybe people are just gettting sick of me, or maybe no one is really 'buying' or even downloading music any more, its just 'out there' and people stream from whatever (spotify, etc) when they want. I hate that idea, as the artist gets basically nothing, but it is happening more and more.

i'm thinking, i guess of more 'unofficial' and just a way for some of us to connect more, etc....
and john- i should get links to your music out there - i didnt know you released any full albums, just heard about a few songs and videos here and there

@Stephen Wordsmith and @tcelliott thanks for the history on this! It is quite interesting and you both make excellent points as to why this is problematic.

I would just note one thing...the volume that was touted as "the very 'best of'" contained songs by some of the panelists/judges! That approach seems doomed from the outset to me. Smile

@mike skliar it is not you! I think there are many factors

...industry is changing so no one wants a CD or even an album

...no one wants to pay since they can get all they can eat for free

...there are way too many folks out there selling music to ever hope to get a break

...way too much competition for people's attention with internet, apps, games, TV, cable, etc.

...old guys like me who rarely buy new music because I probably only have enough time left to listen to what I already own a few more times!

"here was further controversy after the release of Volume 5 - One of the panel off-handedly made a comment as to how nice it was that a whole new set of artists were represented, and that nobody from Vol 4 made an appearance. This was met with slings and arrows from artists who had featured on that album, who believed that they had been doomed from the outset by a covert criterion. They hadn't, but I don't think anyone allowed themselves to be convinced otherwise."

The interesting thing about this was the the off-hand comment was actually incorrect - one artist did feature on both albums.

Interesting discussion here. I will, eventually, try and get at least some of my 50/90 songs to an ok enough standard that they'll be available on bandcamp. But not with any expectation of anyone actually listening to them, it just motivates me to finish the songs, rather than just leave them unfinished. But nasoalmo has a nice list with the names of the participants, and a link to the albums. https://nasoalmo.org/2016-nasoalmo-entries/

A page like that somewhere on the internet, might be worth considering. It's true people aren't listening, there are just too many songs out there, but on the other hand, I would be quite interested to at least have a listen to the finished products of 50/90 participants, because it's interesting, having heard the early stages of creation, to see how the songs turned out in the end. So some sort of accessible list of finished products would be nice.

*futuristic robot voice*

What is "C.D."?

*Documentary narrator voice*). CD was a system first developed in the 20th century. The letters stand for Cash Dynamo and refer the the power of CDs to generate huge amounts of money for a very small number of record companies. Typically they would spend a bit of cash signing up musicians with clever contracts that actually took money from them for the rest of their lives. They would make a series of recordings which were sold to the public on the aforementioned CDs. Ordinary people would pay many dollars to listen to music that was so compressed that everything sounded the same.

In later years, the companies omitted the signing up stage and simply re-issued endless compilations of music by Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton and Witney Houston. CDs eventually fell into disuse when the record companies found new and better ways of making profits through streaming. Finally in the 21st century, Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheehan were the only three artists left making money, President Trump II introduced legislation to allow record companies to take money directly from the bank accounts of members of the public thereby eliminating the need to make any new music at all. None of this, however, explains the huge rise of C-60 cassette tapes that swept the world in 2198.

Now I think about it, CDs were a way for ordinary musicians to sell their music and make a little honest money. R.I.P. C.D.
Back to the original topic. I never really liked the idea of the Fawpilation best of CDs for all the reasons that have already been given. There was something slightly odd that hovering above the creative and very democratic activity of FAWM, there was a higher level of people who made choices regarding what was best.

I do like the idea of a small private thing where people can actively submit songs. That's a good idea. I think a free download would be for the best though.

@Roddy, to be fair, a lot of people were involved in the ranking of songs. While it is true that the final selection was a fairly small number of individuals, many of us took the time to rate songs and have input. And it wasn't intended to be a "best of" rather a representation of FAWM. I think they are useful. I also think they are unnecessary. I think there is value in having a process to polish a song (or two or three) for submission. Now most of my songs sit idle.

There aren't 50/90 CD's because there are only a few people they want on the CD's, and once we got so large, it was hard to chose the clique and leave out others who had talent, and it would take 10 CD set to make sure someone doesn't feel left out.... so instead of have to choose among the millions, they stopped doing it. How can you chose who deserves to be heard?

Probably the best way to do it would be for FAWM/50/90 to become a Bandcamp 'label' then people can allow their albums to be collected under a single banner. With occasional 'samplers' then compiled from albums that have been published through the 'label'.

@tcelliott thanks for responding. You comments make things clearer and I'm sure that everyone involved took the business of selection seriously.

I was always very discouraged whenever I submitted a song and it wasn't chosen. I quite like atitlan's idea

I also think @atitlan's idea of a FAWM and 50/90 Bandcamp label to which anyone who participated could post their event albums (if they're so inclined) bears serious thought -- it seems promising and, in the spirit of these events, inclusive to anyone who wants to participate.

I've often searched "FAWM" on bandcamp to see what other fawmers have posted.

And I toyed with the idea of a net label to distribute music of fellow fawmers and friends (as well as my own.) The idea being that more music on one "label" would give the public a sense of legitimacy that a simple download on bandcamp might not have. But it's work. And there's money involved if you want to do it "right." And I don't want to mix money and fawmers at any level if I can avoid it. And, of course, I haven't the time these days to even toy with the idea.

Thinking out loud here: And it's too late to start a thread AFTER 50/90 or FAWM as most people are gone. But a thread asking for people interested in putting a song forward in a compilation and agreeing to polish it as well as they can reasonably manage by a certain deadline might be a real gauge of interest. And if we agreed that a simple WAV for FLAC file, one song per person, free downloads or price agreed upon ahead of time (I favor free, but a small download price or pay as you want and any money collected donated to 50/90 would not be rejected by me,) and probably some sort of minimum quality standard (or not.) Do all submissions get in or will there be a bad guy judging minimum quality? I mean, even a free download has a load of landmines that has to be traversed if you think about it.

I do like the idea of this album, @tcelliott. Put aside any notion of it showcasing the 'best' or 'most representative' of the challenge, and leave it simply to stand as it is: a compilation album, for which the unifying factor is that the tracks were produced during 5090, intelligently curated and arranged so that the album is appreciable in its own right.

Because, regardless of what the link is or how it came about, a good compilation album is a lovesome thing, God wot!

"intelligently curated and arranged"

"minimum quality standard"

Although I understand why these sentiments would be important if this was a commercial project, I feel they are in direct conflict with the spirit of FAWM and 50/90. This community is not about minimum standards or subjecting our work to arbitrary curators who get to decide whether it is good enough!

I think it should be on a voluntary submission basis with songs randomly arranged so the album is representative of this madcap challenge!

I was just reading this thread and wondering, what might work. I have only explored Bandcamp at a very superficial level, so I have no real idea what can be done with it. But it seems to me a Soundcloud group would have worked for this, but they don't exist anymore. So how could it be done on Bandcamp? I agree with @johnstaples, that there shouldn't be any curation, or anything that would exclude.

Bandcamp labels seem to cost money, so that leaves two other options, either as an artist, or as a "fan". The problem with the artist idea is that someone would have to put a fair bit of work into running the account, as all those files need uploading. How about creating a fan called 50/90 or fawm, or something, who could either create a wishlist or "buy" the songs. That would be less work for whoever became the administrator of the project, but I haven't explored what being a fan on Bandcamp is like, so I don't know.

So as I said I have a very superficial relationship with bandcamp, so there may be many other ways to achieve this.............

I endorse what @johnstaples said.

And speaking strictly personally, I would not submit a song seeking to participate in a curated compliation (quite apart from whether my songs would actually make the cut in any event, which I neither presume nor care about one way or the other). Doing so would transform 50/90 into a contest for me, which is the utterly last thing I want from this event, and make it a source of potential friction rather than pure fun.

The more this is discussed, the more I am convinced that, for me, there is no strong reason for a compilation at all, curated or not. It seems a lot of work for very questionable gain, given how trivial it is to self-release these days. But as someone who has realized he's not interested, I also realize I should butt out as I really don't have standing anymore, and should leave the discussion to the people who are interested in participating. So I'll bow out of further comment, with a final hope that if the project does go forward, it will be completely, wonderfully inclusive of anyone who wants to participate.

I've put out about ten albums now on bandcamp (jeez, i didn't know it was so many till i started counting!) it's not that difficult, really. Main thing is you have to start with wav files and not mp3's (you can convert high-quality mp3's to wav first if you need to, of course). then select the artwork, etc. I'd be happy to contribute a song - and my vote would be it'd be easiest to have it all be a free download, and free-only, as that makes it simpler in the long run.
Back to the other idea suggested, tho- yeah, would be nice to have a webpage out there that listed all the fawm-related and 5090-related projects that have been released by everyone.... not sure how that would work, and yeah, I should tag my bandcamp albums 'FAWM' tho i think some of them may be tagged already- since my last name is fairly unique, its easy to find me. I feel bad for some musician named John Doe or John Smith (or maybe Mohammad Singh in India!) trying to make a name for themselves! ...

I agree with Mike; the two ideas could co-exist. A compilation as suggested above would be easy to do on Bandcamp, particularly if it is free (like Mike, I have done several Bandcamp albums, all of which were free-to-download compilations). The 'minimum standard of quality', if imposed, needn't be terribly high; both the second and third FAWMpilations include tracks left in their original one-take-recorded state. I don't foresee a horde of interested parties, either; if the submission is limited to one per customer, there would be no real need to refuse entry outside of the track being so blatantly offensive as to damage our brand to the person on the Clapham omnibus. I have yet to hear such a track.

Some thought put into track ordering would allow us to maximise the value of the album as an entity in itself, to be listened to start-to-finish. It would also allow us to balance the pace/themes of the albums on the off-chance we had enough material for more than one. We don't even need to brand it conspicuously - the mention of the sole criterion that the songs were written during 5090 need exist only as a byline or footnote, particularly if we're not serving it up as a revenue-gatherer for the challenge (as useful as that might be). The best news is that if you, like me, appreciate the inclusive and non-competitive aspects of 5090, the existence of such an album poses no threat to these laudable virtues, and the only cost to a member for not taking part is the opportunity to be part of a fun community side-project.

Thinking out loud again, I think that both S and John brings up a great point. What I see in the few comments that followed is:

- One song per participant is a good idea. (What if we get a collaboration submitted by one artist which includes another artist that has already submitted a song of their solo self?)
- No curator needed.
- Must be written during 50/90 (which I think is obvious. I think I'd add "and posted on the site during the challenge" as well, just for verification purposes. Not that I think this will be a huge deal.)
- I'll disagree on random order to an extent. After doing the FAWM podcast etc, though, you rarely have to reorder things unless it's just a jarring transition. And even then, if you add a bit of silence it can work. But this is not a deal breaker for me.
- Bandcamp release only, I'm assuming requiring WAV or FLAC is not unreasonable.
- Someone has to come up with an account to use and be responsible for posting. This person must be able to take criticism well as I guarantee something will be "wrong" no matter how well it is done.

Is this something worth pursuing? Something we want to do? Or are we just thinking out loud?

This is something I want to do. I think these are reasonable parameters. When I speak of a 'curator', I'm basically referring to the 'Someone' who 'has to come up with an account to use and be responsible for posting'.

The collab issue is one that has crossed my mind. Having someone appear twice is better avoided. Perhaps if someone is planning to submit a collaboration, they check with the partner as to what, if anything, they intend to submit. If they are firm on submitting their own track, we say 'sod it' and throw them both in, because life is short.

With all the conversation I have lost track of the main reason for even doing this! Smile No money will be made. Only a handful of folks will even bother to download it for free! Someone will have to manage it (and almost certainly quickly tire of that.) And only a handful of the hardcore remaining 50/90ers will even submit songs.

So what is the point? Honestly it kinda feels like using the brand to promote a very small, select group instead of something that actually represents the broad spectrum of 50/90 participants. That may not be the intent but I do not see any way around that result.

Finally, has anyone asked Eric or Burr as to whether they would even allow/support such an endeavor?

And in fact, now that I think more about it, the implication of a compilation is that these are the best of the challenge whether or not that is the intent or the truth.

What I would like, after 50/90, is a way to find out what happened next, and to find out which of those songs were considered, by the writers, to be worth taking forward, because that is an interesting part of the story that might not always be known.

That's why I posted a link to the NaSoAlMo webpage, where they list the completed projects. Obviously 50/90, and Fawm, follow a different method, they aren't specifically about trying to make albums, so the finished product would come later, and may take many different forms.

A compilation is an interesting idea, but it doesn't address the earlier problems outlined in this thread that were revealed from doing it in the past. So I think thinking differently would be a good thing here, if you do the same thing again then you may well get the same outcome.

I thought about doing it again, but I always remember to late. Starting a thread asking for all the releases by fawmers that use FAWM or 50/90 songs. And then putting it on a public spreadsheet to share. If you do it after the excitement of the first week (or week before) it gets almost no attention. It would never be complete but at least it would be something.

I think encouraging to tag their albums 50/90 or FAWM if they contain songs from these challenges is the best we can do.

TC - Thanks for bringing this thread to my attention. I'd seen it was going on, but was still doing my "selective participation based on very little available time" thing!

This is obviously quite a popular subject, and I can see the different opinions.

I can understand some people's point that it MIGHT garner interest in the songwriting challenge, although that's more inclined towards the "hit and hope" mentality.

I can also see some people's point about having something to remember the occasion.

In a way though it could seem like a competition, where those not included could feel depression from not being deemed good enough to make the cut!

I'd say now that I don't give a monkey's left or right nipple for that sort of thing, but in actuality I would probably become competitive and feel dejected about my non-inclusiveness.

The "FAWM/50-90 label" is sort of interesting, and might garner interest, whereby people can use that Bandcamp, SoundCloud, or whatever page as promotion for their circle of friends, but then it comes down to deciding what to put on there!

I'm not sure now if all I've said makes my points clear, as I kept getting interrupted whilst reading the thread and typing my response, which is precisely why my participation this year is so low.

PS - on the subject of "having something to remember the occasion", I frequently make discs up of other participant's material for my own nostalgic enjoyment Smile

Wow - Great thread you guys!

Having worked on the Fawmpilations years ago (which was one of the hardest jobs I've ever done) I would lean away from going down a distinct collection route. As @johnstaples said above, whether you intend it to or not, having a collection implies a "best of" to some people - even if you take great pains to express the broad open submission nature of it, the equality and openness of its arrangement, etc.. people will still tend to see it as "curated" whether it is or not and that can just cause problems, even among all the awesome Fininers/Fawmers.

Don't forget that we are adding new participants every year and a "curated collection" is a point of entry to new people. In some cases, a "Curated Compilation's" existence attracts songwriters/performers who are looking for that "competition", for that extra attention/promotion. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with self promotion, but that's not what these challenges are really for. And when we do get these new folks, they tend to be confused and we then have to hope they will stick around to learn what 50/90 and FAWM are really about. This particular issue makes me sometimes wish we had never done FAWMpilations.

I'm not saying there might not be a way to make it all work, but I can say that it would not be easy and no matter what you do, someone will likely be offended.

To my mind 50/90 and FAWM are about writing. Songs here are presented in their infancy. The challenges are about breaking down self-barriers, giving yourself permission to write, to create freely, to commit to writing continually to improve your craft, and to do so with the help of other songwriters. A Compilation doesn't really amplify those goals. And it may cause more problems and friction than it's worth.

The bandcamp label idea is interesting - but I don't see how to make that work realistically speaking without doing something "selective"... or having such a mass of songs that it would be unwieldy. Feel free to keep talking to that idea and maybe we can find something that would be useful. But again, it would have to be useful to the purposes of the challenge.

The above was all as my personal opinion. Speaking as an Admin, I don't think we (as in FAWM/50/90 org) would want to commit to anything official as far as a compilation. If private individuals wanted to proceed in making a compilation, that's probably fine, but it wouldn't likely be endorsed as an official project. If there is a great swell of people who want to do this as official, we can revisit, but at the moment, I think we would rather focus on keeping the challenge awesome.

Speaking personally again (sort of) - What I do thing might be good, is a page Fininers/Fawmers could post links and a description to their finished CDs/projects/collections that house their completed songs from the challenge. Every year we have folks that post to the Self Promo forum about CDs they have released (which is awesome!) with material they wrote in the previous challenge. I'd love to collect that into a single place so when people ask "what's next" we can say "check this out" . Again this may be a fools errand, but it would be open to any participant and totally voluntary.

If this is of interest, I might look into building something in the near future.

re: Bandcamp "label." It would almost have to be semi official at least. Otherwise, any of us could offer the same service. It could work if it was simply a person (or small group of people) who simply uploaded an album supplied by whatever artists wanted to put their music on it. All the other details, quality, art etc., would be up to the individual artist(s). The only reason I see that being valuable is that it lends an air of credibility to a release and everyone on 50/90 would know where to look to find things. Or to put it another way, after 50/90 we could all go check each others releases out. It solves the dilemma that many of us have that we write tons of music and release almost none of it. And if it's a true community effort then we could all share our music with a greater circle.

I wonder, though, how it would change my participation if I knew I had a place I could release an album (or EP) of material from my 50/90 or FAWM effort? And it begs the question of who is gonna admin a "label."

I like the idea of the "what's next" page, that allows anyone who wants to to link to a finished 50/90 project. I also like the idea of the label, because I think finishing songs, and turning them into albums is a good thing, and I do agree that that would create an extra motivation. The only thing is how. There is the option of using an artist account as a label, which I understand some people do, but I can see a few problems with that. Whereas having a real bandcamp label account costs money, but then again, it wouldn't be very expensive if we shared the cost. I can see a lot of benefits to that, in encouraging people to turn their songs into albums. As long as it was inclusive, and had an anyone who has taken part in 50/90 can be on the label, which could potentially lead to a strange but interesting place. It'd have to be built on a co-operative model I think. But I dunno, I'm out of my depth now, someone else take over.

@tcelliott, who is the audience for this? Is it other participants in the challenge? If so, I wonder if they would really want a repackaged set of songs they already have full access to at the challenge website?

Or if the thinking is the brand might help attract people who are not familiar with the brand I don't quite see how that works either.

I see this as trying to use FAWM and 50/90 for something they are not designed for. As @Eric Distad said quite well,

"To my mind 50/90 and FAWM are about writing. Songs here are presented in their infancy. The challenges are about breaking down self-barriers, giving yourself permission to write, to create freely, to commit to writing continually to improve your craft, and to do so with the help of other songwriters. A Compilation doesn't really amplify those goals. And it may cause more problems and friction than it's worth."

Maybe a new challenge should be created that focuses on production and publishing? But unless someone like Eric or Burr has the interest and skills, I don't think this new challenge would or should be related to FAWM and 50/90.

@Eric Distad, it might be cool to have a new feature to create "collections" (or "albums" if you prefer). It would be kinda like our watchlist but public and have songs instead of other participants. So, it might work like this,

- every participant can create one or more collections of their own songs as well as those of others
- every song posted in the challenge can be included in any collection unless the author checks a box disallowing it
- on each participants soundboard is a list of their collections (not unlike their current list of songs)
- each collection has a page that can be linked to from anywhere (my website, my Facebook page, etc.)
- when you open a collection, its web page (just like the current song page but with multiple songs) opens and all the songs can be played individually or play in the jukebox in the order they are listed
- there could be a master list of collections like the master list of songs

There is a ton more that could be added but this rough concept might be a way to satisfy the requests for a place to publish and add a cool new feature to 50/90. And it could be implemented using existing systems, file storage, etc. I guess it works for FAWM too but I wonder if the fast pace of FAWM would leave anyone the time to use the feature? Maybe after FAWM? And that would give another reason to revisit FAWM after the challenge ends?

The obvious problem with this is it represents a bunch of new work! I suspect you are like me in that this kind of programming exercise is an exciting prospect but whether it is worth the time it will take is another issue entirely! Another key issue as you have already pointed out is whether this is a distraction from the core mission of FAWM and 50/90.

@johnstaples I am just exploring the possibilities. (More thinking out loud.) As Eric said, it's interesting and we should keep working through it:

"The bandcamp label idea is interesting - but I don't see how to make that work realistically speaking without doing something "selective"... or having such a mass of songs that it would be unwieldy. Feel free to keep talking to that idea and maybe we can find something that would be useful. But again, it would have to be useful to the purposes of the challenge."

I do like your suggestion of a separate challenge, but we don't have anyone with the ability and the time to take it on (at least that's the last I heard when we discussed it in the past.) There are obviously some folks interested in some outlet, though. An incentive to polish after the fact. If there is no such challenge at present, then what are our alternatives? I believe this is one of them. You raise good questions.

Who is the audience? - I have no idea. My interest is only that there is a reason to polish and a place to put the result of our efforts. Let's assume there are several albums posted on a bandcamp account. It would still be up to the individual artists to promote and share the content (or not) as they see fit. I do think as a side benefit, there would be a place we could all put a collection at the end of a challenge.

Attracting people: I doubt there is a sudden interest in our work by having a bandcamp label or account. I do think the artists might find some benefit of being able to point to the account to find their album (and others) as part of a collective of sorts. It's like having a net label or self label to lend an air of legitimacy. Is it really worth anything monetarily? Probably not. Again, my interest isn't monetary.

My question to you would be, if there is no challenge to satisfy the expressed need of a reason to polish and way to disseminate our work post challenge, what other options do we have? Do you have any suggestions?

@tcelliott, I guess I don't see how it provides any significant benefit over each artist simply publishing their own album on Bandcamp or Soundcloud or wherever. The tools already exist. Unfortunately, based on everything I've heard and my own experience, none of these publishing efforts results in much. Not only do folks not pay but they won't even download freebies!

"My question to you would be, if there is no challenge to satisfy the expressed need of a reason to polish and way to disseminate our work post challenge, what other options do we have? Do you have any suggestions?"

Did you read my other post right above your latest? I shared an idea but dunno if it would satisfy the need you are seeing nor if Eric would have time to implement it.


re: A significant benefit. Most of us won't take the time to polish music that won't (as you've correctly pointed out) result in much without some sort of push. The benefit to me would be a reason to polish and post written music instead of writing new songs with no outlet.

re your other post. I didn't see it, actually. I was in out of the office and formulated my response over the course of an hour or so. I'll go back and read it now.

A double vinyl will do Smile