What's going on here?
We're attempting to write 14½ songs in the 29 days of February.
Wait… 14 and a half?
Right. 2012 is a leap-FAWM, with an extra day for an extra half-song, which we encourage you to make a collaboration with another “fawmer.”
Isn't that crazy?
Maybe. Think of FAWM as a big, free, month-long, international songwriting workshop that only requires an Internet connection (instead of a plane ticket and hefty registration fee). Other fawmers will become your friends and accountability partners; sources of feedback and creative growth.
Can I really do that?
Yup! Each year thousands of fawmers try… and usually half of us hit the 14-song mark. Many haven't written a song in years, and some have never written songs before. (Of course, some can write 20 songs in their sleep.) On average, even the “non-winners” walk away with 7-10 new songs to their name. Not bad for a month's work.
This website looks so 2009. What gives?
That's because it was (mostly) designed and programmed in January 2009 (from scratch in about 15 days) by a dude with a dayjob (burrsettles). He keeps saying he'll make it prettier next year. You can donate to help expedite that process.
OK, So… you mean I have to write, produce, and record, a whole album in February?
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 in the rest of the year.
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 fawmer 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 February?
You must wait until February 1 (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 for FAWM. 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 in February. Note: the website will unlock song posting at midnight February 1 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”?
14 new songs and the admiration of your songwriting peers.
What's the community like?
The “fawmily” is a positive, encouraging, we're-all-in-this-together kind of scene. You can check out the etiquette page for tips and the FAWM culture page to get a crash-course on our inside jokes and such.
Is FAWM really free?
It is to you, but not to us. To help cover development and operating costs, we suggest making a donation. Our 2012 goal is $14,000 (see the budget). 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 14 songs. Should I even try?
Of course!! 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. FAWM 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 FAWM 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 14 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 own the copyright?
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. Here is a list of past challenges we've done.
What about the Twitter ideas?
We tweet daily song ideas at http://twitter.com/fawm. Like the weekly challenges, these are intended to get the juices flowing, and they aren't compulsory.
Can I write a concept album?
Sure! It's even encouraged, and fawmers 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 two FAWM 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!
Where are my important emails from FAWM (e.g., the one with my account password)?
It possibly got caught in your spam filter. Add ”
@fawm.org” emails to your white list and scan your spam folder for emails with subject lines like “Welcome to FAWM!”
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, Google Chrome, or Internet Explorer 7+, everything should be fine. However, if you use an older (e.g., IE6) or less common browser, you may run into some incompatibilities. We recommend installing Firefox for a good FAWM experience, as it's free and works on most computers.
I love my iPhone/iPad/iPod and want to listen to demos on them!
We wish you could, but Steve Jobs said flash is bad for you. Burr has been working on an iOS-friendly jukebox and music player, but it won't be ready this year. :(
I'm having other problems.
Then check out the forums, where other fawmers can probably help out, or the FAWM admins will try to address them.
When can I start posting songs?
Song posting is unlocked midnight at the end of Feb 1 on the international date line. That's 9pm in Tokyo, or 12 noon in London (GMT), 7am in Pittsburgh/Toronto/New York, 3am in Anchorage, etc. You may post songs up until the same time on March 1 (i.e., as long as it's still February somewhere in the world).
What do all the funny icons mean?
I donated! Where are my rock hands?!?
Donor icons are updated manually by volunteers. So it might take a few hours for it to process. If it's been longer than 24 hours, feel free to contact us about it.
Does FAWM.ORG have RSS feeds?
Yes! We have one for songs (which you can subscribe to as a podcast), and another for forums:
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 “MyFAWM” section of the site.
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 FAWM host them?
In general, no. To post your demos to the FAWM site they must first be hosted elsewhere. But there are several ways to get your demo heard on FAWM. If you donate $25 or more, however, you have the option of using a file hosting service as our way to say thank you. Check out the demo hosting page for more information and other alternatives.
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 around 128kbps MP3 file. It will load faster and be compatible with our player.