Do you have what it takes to write an album in a month?

What is February Album Writing Month ( FAWM )?

FAWM or February Album Writing Month is a global collaborative community of over 1,000 musicians and producers. The goal is simple: create 14 songs in 28 days, just because you can!  It’s about showing up and making music.  When you join the community you can post your songs and get feedback from fellow “fawmers.”

2018 will be my third year of FAWM and I am looking forward to achieving the 14 song goal for my 3rd year in a row. There is something magical about FAWM to me as it helps me to laser focus on my crystal clear goal for the month.  There’s also something about being part of a community that is sharing the same goal and similar challenges.  It’s really motivating to see other fawmers progress with incredible speed and it gives me that extra shot of competitive will power to also dig deep and move ahead.  As you can imagine, creating 14 songs in one month can be daunting and the finished product is most likely not going to be fully polished (as I’m sure many readers of this frequently spend an entire month or more on finishing just one song properly).

This is why FAWM is so good…it helps you to work out a very different set of muscles and mindset. It helps you focus on making really quick decisions and working faster than you may be accustomed to. There will be no time to go chasing rabbits that’s for sure. The 80/20 principle will definitely apply here, as I’m sure 80% of the songs that you create will be just okay while 20% of them will pleasantly surprise you. If you accept the challenge, please connect with me and other Producer Dojo members on FAWM and let me know so that I can add you to my FAWM “watchlist.”  The watchlist is your personal curated feed of the artists that you want to follow closely and keep in contact with. You can check out my FAWM profile here.

For those of you on the fence about giving it a try, please do me a favor and ask yourself the following 4 questions:

What is the worst that can happen to me?

(Answer: you don’t meet your goal…no biggie. At least you tried and learned a thing or two).

What is the best thing that can happen to me?

(Answer: meet new artists, reach your goal, learn a ton, improve your creative output speed, get 14 new songs under your belt).

What if everything I create is crap?

(Answer: You have to create tons of crap before producing quality songs.  Better off getting through a substantial amount of crap in 1 month than over 1 year).

What if everything I create is amazing?

(Answer: Congratulations…High Five! Kick off your Spring on a high note and share the good news with Dylan and the Dojo).

History

FAWM began in February 2004 as a personal project of singer-songwriter Burr Settles (Head of Research at Duolingo), who recruited three friends to join him in attempting to compose 14 new songs during the month. Since all four so-called “fawmers” lived in different time zones, they used a blog to track their progress and encourage one another. Each of them met or surpassed the 14-song goal, with 66 songs total.

Due to expressed interest from songwriters who stumbled upon the FAWM 2004 archive, the challenge was opened up to the public in February 2005 at FAWM, where the challenge has remained. Registered users may post demo recordings of their new songs to keep track of their progress and elicit feedback. Participation and song output roughly doubled annually up to 2008. Fawmers keep in touch with each other throughout the year at a companion website.

Genres

Fawmers compose music of all genres and styles, though the most prevalent are folk, indie rock, electronic and singer-songwriter. In order to spur creativity and work outside of ruts, fawmers periodically create new “genres” and challenges, such as:

–  Strangle Disco – Dance music usually involving classical music samples

–  Crucio – A songwriting game similar to tag

–  Exquisite Corpse – A songwriting equivalent of the classic game, wherein one person writes 60 seconds of a song, then passes only the last 10 seconds to the next person, who continues the song, and so on.

–  Morphing – A songwriting equivalent of the classic game Telephone. Each person in the songwriting chain must write a song based on the previous song, by changing half of it.

–  Explore the core – Recording several highly different versions of the same lyrics and chords.

–  Feasting – Writing and recording lots of songs in one session in a short space of time.

–  Skirmish – A title/prompt is announced and songwriters must immediately write a song in the space of the next hour.

Related projects

The FAWM Challenge is popular among participants in other timed artistic challenges, such as NaNoWriMo, Songfight, 50 Songs in 90 Days, Sounds of the Weak, National Solo Album Month (NaSoAlMo) and Album-a-Day. FAWM was also the model inspiration for the RPM Challenge, which encourages its participants to record a 10-song album.

Closing Thoughts

Whatever your skill level, FAWM will challenge you to make fast decisions, increase creative output, instill a daily song creation habit and open your eyes and ears to new artists from around the world who are trying to accomplish the same goal. Maybe you will decide to collaborate with someone from a different country or improve your feedback giving abilities. Maybe you will experiment with different instruments, field recordings or idea generation methods. Let’s show the world what the Dojo is capable of when we put our hearts and minds to it (sign up here).

External links

FAWM.ORG Official Website

Fawmers – website for songwriters to discuss FAWM during the offseason

FAWM Twitter

FAWM Facebook