It's happening! This May we are launching The Album Writing Club: A songwriting exposé by Lights And Lines. You can sign up for this unique songwriting event here.
But what is it and why should you care? Read on and we'll try to give you the answers you need...
What is it?
The Album Writing Club is a songwriting exposé by Lights And Lines. In May 2022 we're laying down the challenge to independent musicians everywhere... Can you record an Album, or an EP, in a month?
It's a community event and we’ve created a behind the scenes space where people can share thoughts, ideas, progress, challenges, successes etc. as they write and record their Album.
The idea is to work together, document progress and processes, learn from each other, and create some brand new beautiful music at the same time.
Why do it in 1 month?
Adding a time limit essentially does 3 things:
It allows everyone to work together. Musicians write and record stuff in their own time all the time, and there's nothing wrong with that. But this is about a group of people coming together and all trying to achieve the same thing - the time brings us together.
It creates a challenge. Especially when you factor in everything else in your life - job, family, friends, commitments etc. But the challenge is what makes it interesting. This is an opportunity to push creative boundaries, make decisions quickly, and see what happens.
It gives us a definitive end point. How often do people rewrite songs over and over again, seeking perfection but never finding it. I once did 57 takes of a guitar solo and ended up using the 3rd and replacing a bum note at the end with one from take 5. Sometimes you need an end point to say 'this is finished' and be done with it!
What do I have to do in May?
Think of May as the Studio month. When you go to a studio you've probably got some ideas, maybe a few lyrics or riffs, maybe even an idea for a cover or a completed song. Maybe you prefer to have nothing and just see what happens!
Whatever your way of doing things the studio month is about bringing that all together, recording the songs, and getting to at least a pre-master mix.
Mastering can take time so we're not expecting everyone to have completed this within the month.
Can you tell us more about the mentors?
To help guide you through The Album Writing Club we're gathering together a group of selected group of people we regard as of key influencers, mentors, and champions of the independent music scene. Myself (Mike, Label Manager) and this diverse team will be available at different points in the month to answer questions and offer opinions where required.
More will be revealed about this top team in due course.
What can I win?
Winning isn't everything, but it's nice to have an incentive!
At the end of the month we'll ask everyone to submit their Albums and EPs, with a bit of info about them, and we'll listen to them all. We will pick a favourite and offer to put that Album or EP out on Lights And Lines.
Yes you read that correctly, the prize is a 1 time record deal! The Album will be released digitally and as a limited edition CD initially (obviously if it becomes MASSIVE we might do a not so limited edition copy). And it will be assigned a Lights And Lines catalogue number, meaning it is forever cemented into our legacy!
We will promote the Album in the same way we do all of our releases, trying to get it lots of press coverage and radio play, and as many listeners as possible.
The deal itself is simple:
We can get the album professionally mastered for you, unless you prefer to arrange it yourself.
Lights And Lines owns the 'masters' - in other words the right to publish the Album. This permits us to put it on platforms like Bandcamp, Spotify etc as well as on CD.
We do not wait to recoup our costs before paying artists (we are subscriber funded so we don't have to make our money back before we pay you).
And we split any money we make 50/50 - whether that's Bandcamp sales, Streaming, Synching, or anything else that leads to revenue from your Album.
If you have any questions about any of this just ask - we are very open about how our deals work. And if you want to enter but don't want the deal at the end that's absolutely fine too!
How will we pick a winner?
Full transparency - Some of this is still being worked out behind the scenes.
Music is subjective so it's sometimes difficult to nail down why you love something. But love is what it's all about really, I do believe you have to LOVE something if you're going to sell it and that's often what it comes down to.
Broadly speaking we're looking for music that's creative, fun. interesting, and inspiring. Originally we had suggested that we rate Albums and perhaps combine with a public vote but if we're honest there's no real way to score any of these things so it's just going to be about love...
The Lights And Lines team and our group of mentors supporting this event will all offer their thoughts and opinions, alongside me (Mike - Label Manager) and I'll pick a winner. Somehow.
Please note, there is no extra credit for writing an Album over an EP. The number of songs isn't as important to us as the quality of the songwriting and how it makes us feel!
What about the non-winners?
This event is designed to amplify the collective voice of the independent music community. Winning is awesome, but we want everyone to benefit and reap the rewards of your hard work. This is an opportunity to shout about all of the amazing creativity that's out there and shouting is something we're really good at!
In addition to talking about the event across social media (using the Chatham House Rule - see below) we're sending out press before, during, and after this event to a long list of major and independent publications to try and get some coverage and interest in this amazing event.
We're also teaming up with Sunshine Music iRadio and planning a series of shows on the station where we play tracks from The Album Writing Club and talk about the artists Album or EP throughout the month of June. After that, with your permission, we will send ALL of the Albums to EVERY radio station in our network for airplay.
As part of this we're also encouraging artists to upload the finished Albums and EPs to Bandcamp and include the hashtag #TheAlbumWritingClub so that we can make the collection searchable and try to get coverage across Bandcamp and other media. We're happy to offer tips and advice for getting the most out of Bandcamp and have some great resources we can share too.
All of this is assuming we have your permission as an artist. We will look for opportunities for artists taking part to get press coverage, airplay, and introduce you to people as opportunities come up. But your level of visibility is up to you, we will always ask your permission before mentioning your name, or sending your song anywhere.
What is the Chatham House Rule?
As artists involved in the event we want to be able to talk freely as a group but not worry about things that may be personal to us being shared outside. The Chatham House Rule enables us to do this.
By signing up you agree to use the Chatham House Rule when sharing content outside of the private Forum.
Participants are free to use and share information elsewhere (e.g. social media) where it might be relevant or helpful to others to do so
But neither the identity nor the affiliation of the person, nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.
And most importantly, do not share IP without their permission e.g. lyrics, songs, etc.
So in practice - outside of this forum you CAN say:
I came across an interesting songwriting technique in a Songwriting forum recently where someone said they started most of their lyrics just by looking around the room and coming up with stories about objects they could see.
But you CAN'T say:
Marie from Tape Band wrote this amazing lyric just by looking around the room and making up stories about what she saw - 'The lamp is broken but the window brings me light on the darkest of all days'.
Everything underlined in this second example is either personal data or someone else's IP that they may not want you to share - so please don't unless you explicitly have their permission! If you do and we find out, we may remove you from the event.
Do instrumental's count? And other similar questions!
YES! Instrumental's count.
YES! It counts if you come to the month of May with some ideas pre-prepared.
YES! It counts if you record it in a full studio, a home studio, your garden, in a shed etc. We don't care where you do it! If you just have a mic and a DAW don't let worries about production put you off, some of the best stuff we've ever heard has been recorded that way!
YES! You can release your music elsewhere after the event - it's yours! The only exception is that we obviously want to release the winners Album so it's worth waiting til we make that decision if you want to be in with a shot of the main prize.
YES! You're right it isn't a lot of time. But that's sort of the fun!
If you have more questions please let me know either by Tweeting them to @Mike1inFive (that way I can respond publicly in case others want to know the same thing), or via email if it's a private question firstname.lastname@example.org.