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Why do songwriting challenges?

Before I was aware of the songwriting challenges out there on the web I set myself my own challenge – write, produce and upload a new song every week to my website for a year. I did this from April 2009 – 2010.

Now this may sound a little extreme but it was an amazing way to practice my writing skills and it gave me an excuse to keep up the contact with my email list. In fact, it was how I created my email list. When I finished I got a lot of people telling me they missed the weekly new song, which was a relief, because you never know when you’re bugging people! In May I released an album with 13 of the best songs called ‘Song of the Week‘, many of which have been placed on TV and Film.

Shortly after I had released the CD I noticed a songwriting challenge called 50 Songs In 90 Days and I thought, “Don’t be silly, that’s impossible”.But I couldn’t stop myself and started writing a whole bunch of new tunes. But it was the school summer holidays and there just wasn’t time to keep it up, what with travelling to the UK and other kids stuff. Although I didn’t come anywhere near to finishing, I did get the bulk of a new album, ‘Treehouse‘, which I released January this year.

So it’s FAWM time – February Album Writing Month. I had no intentions of doing this at all. I had just put out a new album and had broken my collarbone… and where was the time? Well it turns out that just about the only thing I could do with my injury was play the guitar for short periods of time. Housework was completely out of the question so I had extra time. So I started on Feb 1st and am just over half way through and I swear it is keeping me sane. Some songs take a day or two and others like ‘Lemonade’ took an hour to write and record. I just love writing and recording. It’s a good thing my kids are old enough to get their own food!

So why do these challenges? Here are some great reasons:

1. With this much songwriting you can only improve.
2. It gives you an excuse to keep in contact with fans.
3. You are giving fans something new on a regular basis.
4. You improve your recording skills and discover new ways to produce.
5. You end with a large catalogue to draw from, which is especially useful if you are pitching to TV etc.
6. You really learn how to finish songs and move on.
7. It gives you something to tweet,FB etc.
8. It’s fun!

Some great songwriting challenges to check out (and it isn’t too late for FAWM)

FAWM
50/90
RPM Challenge

I hope to see you in the forums on any of these challenges and if you want to follow my progress, please visit my FAWM page – http://fawm.org/fawmers/helenaustin/

Blog Challenge Week 4 – Social Media

I love that the book Music Success in Nine Weeks addresses that musicians HATE this aspect of being a musician. It takes us away from what we love to do… write, make and play music.

But being married to a computer tech guy for 18 years today (that’s right it’s our anniversary and I’m blogging and he’s working… we love each other but we also love our careers too!), I have been forced into Web 2.0. He was the one who made me tweet. “Just try it… you’ll like it” he said. He is like a internet pusher.

But I did try it and liked it enough to keep going, along with facebook, youtube, reverbnation yadda yadda, yadda.

Really I started with youtube a few years ago, which ended up getting me 3/4 million views on a comedy song called the Childbirth Song, that I performed at a concert. I was always very keen to thank everyone who left comments on that and all the other songs I made vids for and posted.

So then came facebook… again I really like to acknowledge all lovely comments. Then there was twitter, then reverbnation, then MySpace, then, then… there are only so many hours in the day to reply.

But then I read and liked the the way the book describes this all as watering your social media garden. It somehow makes it less daunting Although I am well known for being a terrible gardener, I have managed to grow some tomatoes as well as get new followers on twitter this year!

There is SO much to the social media thing that blogging about it starts my head spinning. It’s one of those things you just have to do little by little and only look at the trees and not the whole forest otherwise you could implode.

So I will keep watering. Most sites will get tended to regularly, some will wither and some will got thrown into the garbage.

If you want to find me on the internet at the places that are blooming (other than this blog!) here’s a list of the places that I regularly update and interact with.

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube

It’s also important to spend some time away from a screen, so I’m off to watch Star Wars for the 56th time with my son! 🙂

VIMBC here I come

Today is the first day of the VIMBC. This will be my first music conference and I am very much looking forward to immersing myself in the music and the knowledge that I can take away and apply to my own musical path.

They have an impressive group of panelists from vice pres of ASCAP, Ralph Murphy to the most awarded independent male artist in the Canadian country music industry Jamie Warren (whom I met the other evening at a jam and was very pleasant!).

There are others that I have previously connected with via twitter like Aprix’s Ron Proulx and others that I have met here in the Valley such as the gorgeous Sue Medley.

My showcase is on Saturday, 6:30pm at the Whistlestop Pub in Courtenay and there are many, many shows to take in. Here’s the schedule.

So I have my iPad (well my husband’s iPad… shh) in hand and a bunch of new CDs and business cards. I think I am prepared. I was a girl scout after all!

I will be posting things that I find interesting on twitter… so you can follow me there if you want to know what’s going on!

Did someone say schmooze time?

Why I don’t have an iPhone… yet.

Just some thoughts on being continually plugged in….

My husband has an iPhone. In fact he got one the day they were released. Same with the iPad.

Now, while I LOVE his iPhone (not so much his iPad), I think it’s wise that I don’t get one. I find that I spend so much time in front of a screen either recording, marketing, emailing, video editing etc etc and I need to take a forced break at some point. Releasing a new CD will do that.

Without an iPhone when I leave the house, I get the occasional blissful hour, not knowing who is doing what or who is trying to contact me.

Now I’m not a strong person. If I am with my husband I can’t resist taking his phone and checking messages, looking at twitter, facebook. He tries to stop me but eventually he relents (because he’s nice!)

So, as much as I should have an iPhone, I am going to continue, for now, without one… until my husband needs a new one… will I be able to resist taking over his old one. We shall see 🙂