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Poll: Fixed thematic months for the Songwriting Competition

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Are you interested in fixed thematic months for the Songwriting Competition?

Poll ended at Sat Apr 24, 2021 23:59 CEST

Yes - I'd like to look forward to certain games and invite friends
4
40%
No - please leave things as is, I trust you finding the right theme/genre
6
60%
 
Total votes: 10

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Mister Fox
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Poll: Fixed thematic months for the Songwriting Competition

#1

Post by Mister Fox »

Hello everyone,


this particular poll is a simple yes/no question:
Are you interested in fixed thematic months for the Songwriting Competition?



As you are probably aware, I am running monthly statistics for all games on the Mix Challenge audio community, and also note down what themes and genres we've had. You can find those for example via the following link through the main homepage:

Statistics / Songwriting Competition


With the change of the overall game mechanics and therefore making the game more accessible than ever (starting August 2020), we also saw more participation in general. However, throughout the years, I could see a certain trend in terms of participation and interest in genres. Well, if I managed to find the right month for a certain game that is (Summer months have always been low on participation).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things shifted towards a desire to do more "relaxed" stuff rather than sophisticated/complicated content. But overall, I saw an interest in certain thematic games. Like... create a soundtrack for a fictional video game, create an electronic music track, experiment with certain tools as starting point, then build upon that.



:arrow: Did you know, that we actually have two set "thematic months" for the Songwriting Competition, since Fall 2018?

Those are:
  • January: Community Scramble (Special Sound Design Challenge)
  • September: Mental Health Awareness Month
While I am currently thinking about shaking up the "Community Scramble" a bit, maybe giving a tad more leeway in terms of content creation, plus also starting to collect samples sooner (bar minimum, starting at the 01st of November) - the "Mental health Awareness Month" is here to stay. This topic has always been a personal issue for me - and music can help with coping and/or even healing.


With a constant eye on our current world situation, how many participants joined in recent months, what genre seems to work best... I'm not going to lie. The longer the Songwriting Competition is running, the harder it is for me to find suitable themes and genres to tackle and to keep participants enganged. I did port the occasional genre/theme requests, yet then there was barely any participation in return, which was also quite frustrating. I once also tried offering themes and genres up to three months in advance, yet barely anybody joined either. In fact, I was asked to "keep things secretive until the very last minute", to provide a certain surprise factor.

The lines are quite thin, and things might drastically backfire (happened a lot even). However, considering a recurrence of certain fixed thematic months could offer me better options in terms of setting things up, as I can plan certain things a bit more in advance.



:arrow: I am currently considering the following (list is a work-in-progress)
  • January: Community Scramble (Special Sound Design Challenge), genre: free to select
  • Spring (March) or Summer (August): Video Game Soundtrack, genre: depending on the premise
  • April or May: Music/Trade Show Event related (e.g. Musikmesse and/or Superbooth), genre: electronic based
  • Early Summer (June/July): "Limited Tools/Special Task Challenge" (think "AI enhanced composing" from June 2019, or maybe even "Make a salsa track with these train horn samples"), genre: depending on the premise
  • September: Mental Health Awareness Month, genre: usually "free to select"
  • October: Story Time (because Fall and/or Halloween), genre: depending on the premise, but usually soundtrack based

Please keep in mind, nothing is set in stone yet. For example, notice that there is no "Pop Music" or the infamous "Metal November" listed. I am merely tossing around ideas, in hope to find a more steady rhythm, and see more participation (I can only do so much promotion on other places).

This is where I'd love to gather some feedback from you. Not only if you're a regular at the Songwriting Competition, but also if you've been sitting on the fence.


Thank you for reading.



:idea: POLL INFO:
The poll will run until 24th April 2021 23:59 UTC+2/CEST. You can cast one vote. You are able change your vote until that deadline

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fogle622
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Re: Poll: Fixed thematic months for the Songwriting Competition

#2

Post by fogle622 »

I have not participated in a songwriting competition to date. I do not often think about song writing.

I voted yes because I believe there is a better chance I might participate if there were consistent themes throughout the year.
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Re: Poll: Fixed thematic months for the Songwriting Competition

#3

Post by Mister Fox »

Thank you for breaking the ice.


:arrow: For understanding purposes:
The premise (per-month-themes) and genres wouldn't be fully set in stone months in advance, only the "overarching theme" would be, while the rest (theme per month, music genre) can still adapt to that. The "surprise factor" wouldn't be gone.

:idea: As in:
Month > Overarching Theme (e.g. "Special Task Challenge") > Theme > Genre (might be fixed for "Overarching Theme")

:!: Example:
Month: e.g. August > Overarching Theme: "Video Game Soundtrack" > Theme: "create a song for a fictional sci-fi anti-gravity racing game" > Genre: Drum and Bass/Neurofunk



My fear is though... that if people see "Oh it's a an overarching theme that is not my cup of tea", that they will rather sit it out than try to experiment regardless, and just make music. This happened with me announcing themes and genres up to three months in advance during 2018.

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Re: Poll: Fixed thematic months for the Songwriting Competition

#4

Post by Mister Fox »

I would really love to read more feedback on this. Please don't just drop by, select a "yes" or "no", and then leave again.

I'd like to know your opinion as to why you think that would work, and why not. :thinking:

Thank you.

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Re: Poll: Fixed thematic months for the Songwriting Competition

#5

Post by TrojakEW »

Well even I selected yes I'm still thinks that even the way it is now is good. It is more like that people not have time to participate so it may not be the problem of genre or theme. But it may help you Mister Fox. I mean less work for you while thinking what to do next.

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Re: Poll: Fixed thematic months for the Songwriting Competition

#6

Post by Mister Fox »

Thank you - appreciated. :tu:

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Re: Poll: Fixed thematic months for the Songwriting Competition

#7

Post by Square »

The good thing to me about thematic planned side would be, say for example, its a metal month, i have nothing for that. But if i know that the following month is say, more electronic based, instead of just sitting there, i could already start working on my piece for that instead. Ie. If the year is planned, I can look at the list and say: Ill do that one, that one and that one. Now I have x amount of time to sort them out at my own pace (provided procrastination and poor time management dont consume me :lol: )

So to me, in theory, it sounds easier to manage for everyone. Ive started a few songwriting contests, but i found them quite hard to finish due to time/idea constraints, and maybe more time would help? Sometimes i would finish and not submit, sometimes i would rush and submit knowing my track is subpar just to try and add something to the contest, just to find myself too frustrated with how bad i know it is to even participate, which leads me to staying a bit more distanced from it. This obv stems from ego etc.. not saying its the way i should react, but it was and thats why. Also i found it quite hard to review others tracks, but ive just made myself a simple format which has made it easier. Which btw, that would be awesome. To have a 'review sheet' ie. a set list of questions to answer, so for peer reviews it would mean everyone is reviewing the same way and it feels standardised, it would help with what to say to people, especially if you dont particualry like a track but dont want to come off as rude.

So again for me personally, i think thats great, it would mean that i can have a bit more control about when im able to write for a particular challenge ie. im too busy this month, but next month ill have time to write for reggae may etc..

or ive finished my mix track for the month, but im still craving some more audio work, i just select a song to work on.

Im actually getting more excited as I type about it lol

sometimes its really nice to have something kick you with inspiration, having this would help songwriters have motivation without feeling constantly rushed (i think?)

As i dont really think its ever going to be practical to be able to enter all songwriting contests (for me at least) and this allows for more planning, focus on the genres i enjoy and less rushing just because i have time/motivation this month, but dont really want to submit to that particular one.


Also as a side note, it would be really cool to try a collaboration month! I know their will be many headaches involved with that, and definately drama, but i think it would be really neat and maybe connect a few of us in a more practical ways. I dont know if 'teams' would need to be grouped randomly or selected or how that would go, but if there is a month and genre that is consistently popular, that may work...

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Re: Poll: Fixed thematic months for the Songwriting Competition

#8

Post by Square »

and just another coffee fueled idea, it might be cool to have challenges outside of a full song as well, aka a percussion break (maybe only made with household things) or a vocals only passage, or a banging chorus for a cheesy 80s song, or a group thing where each person writes there own section, or doing re-mixes of each others songs... etc...

Just random ideas, dunno if that would appeal to anyone, but these just happen to be the only thoughts running through my head while im trying to write something for this months song contest.. :face:

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Re: Poll: Fixed thematic months for the Songwriting Competition

#9

Post by Mister Fox »

Just a quick response to the last two posts:


While I appreciate you trying to plan your time a bit better, I am afraid this won't go as far. By setting "overarching themes", I am not necessarily setting genres as well.

As examples:
  • the "Community Scramble" game each January -- but you can't work ahead as you don't have access to the sample content as "basis" for this game
  • a possible "Video Game Soundtrack" theme for June only tells you the general idea of what is to come -- but will it be orchestra, will it be electronic, will it be a mix of something?
  • a "Metal November" on the other hand is self-explanatory -- but even then, which Metal sub-genre would it be?


What I'm trying here, is to find certain fixed months for game concepts.

As with the known ones (and they're here to stay)
  • January -- Sound Design (with only the material given to you)
  • September -- Mental Health Awareness Month
I might add another "limited tools" type challenge in June. Then we could go the route of "somebody provides a melody, and others build upon it" (while not turning this into a full Remix Challenge, which we had - but didn't really work out). Or "incorporate synthesizer ABC in some shape or form into your production", while still allowing participants to use whatever else is available at their tool-set (see the "AI enhanced composing" Songwriting Competition from June 2019).

This in turn would make it easier for me to set up certain games a couple of weeks or even months in advance, then promote the game better (example: I know the "theme" for SWC049 / September 2021 already). There would still be randomized themes/genres per month. Something that has been requested to remain as "surprise factor".



This doesn't hold you off to work on "new material" regardless, and then maybe finish it for XYZ game.

This is why I started this thread - to get feedback. Thank you for that so far. :thinking:

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Re: Poll: Fixed thematic months for the Songwriting Competition

#10

Post by Blang »

The biggest thing I notice with the SWC submissions is that they often feel unfinished. I actually like the time limitation of one month, but perhaps focusing on genres that don't need many different parts, elaborate production, track length might work out well. For example, I started in the SWC with Lo-fi Hiphop, because I had been meaning to explore that genre, but mainly because I felt I could make something decent in a few hours. So more people might feel inclined to enter and have a more satisfactory result.

Going further down this path, the brief could also be something like: write for a... 4-piece rock band, string quartet, solo piano. It might also be too specialized.

Personally, I would like some more focus towards actual (classic) songwriting: words, melody, chords. With less emphasis on production. Some people might not feel confident about their lyric writing. So you could also provide the words for all contestants should use, like a poem or theater scene.

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