Monday, April 2, 2007

The RPM Challenge Recap Pt. 1

I wonder what might have happened if Pitchfork never covered the RPM Challenge. I wonder if it would have quietly worked its way up in size or if it would have fizzled out. I may have found out about it through some other avenue, who knows. But it first crossed my eyes on Pitchfork. I read the article, clicked on the website, played the jukebox, read the rules, picked up the phone, called Jen, told her to read the article and within twenty minutes we had agreed we were in. We were making an album in 28 days. The month of February was going to be Record Production Month.

Last year was the first year of the RPM Challenge. It was organized by the alt-weekly magazine The Wire, out of the cool seacoast town of Portsmouth New Hampshire. Loosely modeled after the February Album Writing Month (FAWM), which was a take on the National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo), The RPM Challenge was going to challenge songwriters in New Hampshire to write AND record an entire album in a month. Record it on whatever you can find: tape recorder, four-track, Protools, even your mother’s answering machine. 10 songs or 35 minutes of recorded music, noise, whatever you want to call, however you want to make it, you got 28 Days to complete it.

28 days is not a lot of days. That’s entirely the fun of it. The lure of the RPM Challenge is that you can’t get things perfect if you want to get things finished.

This year a lot of people were lured. People from outside New Hampshire, people all the way out in Albany and beyond. Chicago, Seattle, Tokyo, Bangkok, all the way to Dublin and below the equator. Get out your maps. Put a pin on a globe. Chances are you’re striking a country with a RPM Challenge participant living in it. Actually, you can just go to They have a map there.

850 bands made albums for the RPM Challenge in 2007. 850 Albums that might never have been made otherwise. 850 albums from all over the globe. So what does a little alt-magazine from Portsmouth do in response to such a response?

They threw a killer global listening party March 30th. That's what they did.

It was a listening party played over the web. The RPM challenge asked each participant to choose one song off of their album to be put into a custom built high-tech juke-box to be streamed over the web (once again Registered gatherings in major cities across the U.S. were given set lists full of the songs written by attendees to those parties. The beer flowed like wine. The hipsters, the Goths, the hippies, the freaks, the lumberjacks, the white collar 9-5ers all came out to see and be seen, to hear and be heard.

I was in Portsmouth for the big soiree, along with the other half of the band We Are Jeneric. It was awesome. I drank a lot of Old Grandad and I danced like a fool.

I’ll let Jen fill in the rest for tomorrow.

1 comment:

Christopher said...

Thanks for trekking all the way to Portsmouth for the party! Was great to have the extended family there - nice to meet all you guys, too - and I was especially glad that we were able to slip your (excellent) song in at The Press Room. Thanks for the props - see you in '08!



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