Posted on July 4th, 2013 | by Leslie

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The 50/90 Challenge!

July 4th is here!  Which means the beginning of the 2013 instalment of the 50/90 songwriting challenge!

50/90 is an international and collaborative challenge to write 50 new songs in 90 days, and takes place between the 4th of July and the 1st of October every year.  The site hosts profiles for thousands of participants, free of charge.  They do ask for donations to help offset their continued costs, but have never made it mandatory.

Each writer posts songs in any number of forms and/or levels of completion.  Some are full demos, some are one-takes, some are lyrics only, or instrumental phrases not yet fully formed.  When you post a song you can decide whether it’s just to be listened to, or whether people can download it, or whether it can be played on the podcasts.

If you want critical feedback, you normally have to insist on it.  The community is extremely supportive and encouraging and inclusive.  They’ll help you pick apart your work if you really want them to, but most commenters are happier to tell you how much they enjoyed what you’ve done.  However, it is worthwhile to take advantage of the vast collective stores of knowledge and experience these musicians and songwriters have to offer.

50/90 was the first songwriting challenge I ever participated in, back in 2009.  I have met many of my closest friends, and most of my favourite musical collaborators through this community.  I have discovered a voice I didn’t know I had, love for genres I didn’t realize existed, and a means of holding myself accountable when it comes to growth and personal development as a musical professional.

In fact, I wouldn’t BE a musical professional without this community.  For example:

– Copy Red Leader would not exist if I’d never met Devin, not to mention the dozens of songs we’ve written together

– Pent Up would not exist if I’d never met Carlos, Lee and Garry and I might never have learned how to play with a band

– I would not have been nominated for a Madison Area Music Award if I’d never met Das Binky, or ended up on his EP at all

– I would not be recording 2 CDs with producers in Amsterdam and Oslo if I’d never met Peter and Kristian, not to mention all the musicians recording tracks for me in Europe, America, and Canada

– I would not have become part of the FAWMTO community of local songwriters

– I would not be part of the Filk community if I’d never met Errol, not to mention the broader geek community in Toronto

– I would not have met Debs, my sweet harmonizing occasional other half

– I would not have developed the collaborative and performance skills necessary to prepare me for playing open mics and live gigs

Basically, I wouldn’t be who I am without 50/90.  Not as a musician, nor as a person.  It has changed my life in ways few people will ever know.  I am so very grateful to be one voice in this global chorus of dissonant dissidents so dear to my heart.  We are myriad, but there’s always room for more.

If you’re so inclined, be it intensely or lackadaisically, there’s a home for you with us.  Songwriters, singers, instrumentalists, writers, poets, storytellers, sound sculptors, you’re one of us.  Geeks and metalheads, folkies and DJs, we’re a diverse bunch.

Feel like creating?  Feel like being entertained?  Feel like talking shop?

Well, me too.  This is where I’ll be.  (I’m 2 songs in already.)

See you over there!


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