December 30, 2018 5:54 AM


Hello! I've been on a leave of absence due to producing a small new band member, she can't play or sing yet but we're getting there. And you know, not being able to play or sing doesn't stop many popular musicians these days (omg shut UP MUM).

Anyway I'm sorry I've been so rubbish at arranging maternity cover. I want to start 2019 as I mean to go on, and for this I need your help. I want your input on two questions:

1) What challenges would you like to see? More or less technical ones? More collaboration ones? More covers or more originals?

2) I'd like to do another big album project this year as we've talked about it for a while. Are there any anniversaries coming up of great and powerful albums that you think would make a good candidate for this? Bonus points for diversity, it would be great if we can avoid doing another one by a white male or male-dominated group if possible!

Thank you, and if you'd rather memail me with your input then please do. I might be a bit slow to respond as the aforementioned new housemate is quite demanding, but I will respond!
posted by greenish (13 comments total)

I'd vote less technical, more collaborative, and more covers - those sorts of things encourage participation, which can be difficult to get with regular challenges.

IIRC we've done Velvet Underground (60's), Bowie (70's), and Radiohead (90's) - maybe something from the 80's? Anniversaries would be 35 years for 1984 and 30 years for 1989. Will have to think about it.
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:42 AM on January 3, 2019

Congrats on the new tenant!

I love the idea of being involved in an album project. I did have a quick look there at 80s albums but I had to stop as I was feeling too old so once I've finished sobbing I'll go back and have another look. But definitely count me in for that.
posted by billiebee at 6:39 AM on January 7, 2019

Woo, greenish! I think another album project would be a lot of fun too.
posted by cortex at 8:16 AM on January 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I like InfidelZombie's idea of challenges that are collab-based. I confess I don't typically participate in the challenges much, because they're typically theme-based and I'm usually just content doing my own thing. But a collab mixer would be something that I think I would find really engaging! It's a bit more of logistical challenge, though.
posted by CarrotAdventure at 7:44 PM on January 7, 2019

Awesome, thanks for the feedback guys!

I was super hoping that an anniversary of a Kate Bush album would fall this year but I can't see one, gutted. Would it be an abuse of power just to do a Kate Bush challenge?!
posted by greenish at 10:32 AM on January 16, 2019

It would be the best kind of abuse of power.
posted by cortex at 10:35 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

That sounds good. A particular album, or any Kate Bush?
posted by umbú at 12:30 PM on January 16, 2019

Welcome back greenish! I think I might have a list of challenge ideas somewhere. I can send it your way if I find it, but here are some thoughts offhand:

Having open, or ongoing challenges, as well as time-limited ones. So that someone who comes upon a challenge after it's over and interested can still participate if they want. I know you've been pretty flexible about it before, but it would be nice to have clearly noted open challenges.

I think this has been discussed before, but another idea was to offer at least a couple of different challenge categories each quarter or every couple of months, rather than one per month, and the person could choose which one to do. I don't know if that would be too many choices, but for me if I'm not able to meet a challenge's restrictions, I've wished there was a second option I could try (aside from just recording anything).

As you (and the people I have collaborated with here) know, I have a personal policy of not doing covers unless they're public domain or otherwise flexible or I can get permission or a license for them. It's an old policy that started way back, when I hung out on Usenet and worked on recordings/collabs there and a legal/organizing/financial headache came up re: song rights and licensing even though we were just mostly playing for fun. The industry has changed a lot since then, though, so I should probably reconsider the policy now for myself, because it's definitely prevented me from participating on some fun challenges or other recordings with people. (This is the long way of me saying I will likely reconsider my decade+ policy in order to participate in a Kate Bush album project.)

For other challenge ideas:

- How about an album of all sea shanties?

- Something where we genderswap or rewrite the lyrics of a collection of trad songs, because gosh there are some songs with really beautiful melodies and I just cannot sing the words to them now.

- An a-capella challenge.

- A lo-fi challenge, where we just record with whatever. A phone, the awful internal mic on a laptop, genuine tape recorder.

- I think the 1 minute / 2 minute challenges are some of my favorites and wouldn't mind that coming up again. Am I also biased because the recent things I've recorded are 1-2 minutes long? Yes absolutely. :D

- I also liked the Request challenge where we get a request from someone and tried to complete it.

- And, stating the obvious probably, but I love collabs. Maybe we could do at least an annual collab project/challenge. For any collab challenge, I would ask for a longer period of time though (maybe 2-3 months?) to account for general scheduling and availability for people.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 11:59 PM on January 18, 2019

Would it be an abuse of power just to do a Kate Bush challenge?!

It totally would and I insist upon it.

That’s funny, I was also gutted to see there wasn’t a Kate Bush anniversary to exploit when I was looking at album lists so I heartily subscribe to this. (Not for the first time I grieve the lack of vocal range to sing Wuthering Heights without scaring small children. I’ll keep that one for solo car journeys.)
posted by billiebee at 3:59 AM on January 19, 2019

Ok I feel inspired and delighted by these answers so I'm gonna go ahead and launch the first challenges of the year.

Feedback taken on board and here's my plan - we'll have the regular challenges, and a longer Kate Bush challenge that will span the next six months. Another longer one will follow that, and we'll try and have two going at all times so there's always a choice if you want one.

Rangefinder 1.4 thanks for all those superb ideas. I'm going to use one for the first regular challenge. And I, too, would like to re-run the short piece challenge, the collab and the request challenge. Those last two feel like good long challenges so they might pop up a bit later in the year.

Thanks guys! Please feel free to drop me a line with any more feedback or ideas!

Also billiebee when I read your post I imagined one of those versions where someone has slowed down a track and it becomes awesome in a totally different way. Worth trying?!
posted by greenish at 5:06 AM on January 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Can you guys catch me up on what you exactly you mean by a collab challenge? I have never looked at the section of the site before, so I missed all of these past projects.
posted by twoplussix at 3:14 PM on January 31, 2019

Anything where you work with one or more other Mefites on a song. Maybe one does music and another vocals, or somebody starts with a part and it gets passed from person to person, each adding something new. For instance, we did this REM song as a challenge once.
posted by InfidelZombie at 8:56 AM on February 1, 2019

How about You Are My Sunshine?
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:38 AM on February 9, 2019

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