A friend got confused when I mentioned that this forum provides prompts for each day of #Jamuary, they never heard that “this is required”. Another friend asked me whether unique equipment per day was really “a goal” in #Jamuary.
Of course, there are no Hard Rules… maybe beyond “post daily jams with audio”. But it got me thinking what my particular set of implicit rules for this event is. So here it is. I’m not saying you should follow any of them, just sharing what I end up doing.
Without further ado, my idea for my own personal Jamuary journey is:
- all video
- posts between 3:00 and 5:00 in duration
- there must be a live performance component
- use unique equipment setups between days
- use 3/4 or 6/8 meters on days divisible by 3
- use a variety of filming techniques
- switch music genres
- generative (or “AI”) elements allowed but they cannot dominate
- …unless I implemented the generator myself
- put the effort in
- but don’t sweat the composition
- read the daily prompts on jamuary.org but don’t worry about following them
- post on the day of but the day ends when I go to sleep, don’t fret about “midnight passed”
- post on all 31 days of January
Did I break some of those rules so far? Of course, there’s no jail for that. But they are my personal guidelines to make sure I get the most of this marathon. Like, of course I don’t have enough unique equipment to make every video use different gear. My point is more to dust off the less used stuff, too. To actually use what I have. To try out ideas I had in the past but never gotten to.
Note that I avoid saying I “explore” or “experiment” or “barely scratch the surface” or something is my “first attempt at” as I feel those expressions rationalize lazy publishing. I’m not saying you are lazy if you use those terms. I’m just saying why I personally avoid them.
The rate of publishing in January that #Jamuary requires is frankly crazy but I feel that the experience gained is worth it as long as there is some quality bar that I don’t intend to fall under.
Right, I don’t think there’s any central definition or set of rules for #Jamuary.
Personally I like challenges where each person sets their own goals, on top of a basic goal (“a jam a day”). I’ve been doing FAWM (“14 songs in February”) since 2016, and I quickly noticed that people have very different definitions of what counts as “a song”: for some it’s just a title, or a set of lyrics; for others it’s full production. I think a more loose set of rules makes it harder for people to compare themselves with others, and that that’s a good thing, IMHO.
The prompts I’ve been giving are just suggestions to help fight writer’s block, or to try something different that you normally wouldn’t do. I myself haven’t been doing all of them, and some days I use what I did as a prompt for the next day (since I write the prompts around noon PST for the folks in Europe and Asia). I tried to make it clear their are just suggestions, and the Jamuary police won’t show up if people don’t follow them.
My personal challenge has one a single core role:
And then some qualifiers:
- Try to use a new technique or learn a something new with the jam. If I can’t, it’s OK.
- Try to record video showing the process. If I can’t, try to record audio. If I can’t play it live for myself at least.
Personally, I think consistency is important… if I skip a day, then it’s easy for me to skip another, and another. So I favor consistency over quality: even if I’m short on time I try to force myself to do anything. That being said, my biggest goal is to improve my music (and recording/video editing) skills, learn new things, and be inspired by what everyone does.
Writing these out was an interesting exercise. This is generally what I’ve been keeping to, though I’m sure I’ve broken most of these already. I already consider it a victory that I’ve contributed this much, so it’s all downhill from here!
- Post something every day that you can
- … but don’t fret if you miss a day - there are some days you just don’t want to touch your gear
- Try to arrange something at least sort of like a song
- … but don’t worry about it if you only end up posting a short clip
- Don’t dive too deep into unknown techniques/processes on most days (leave that for a weekend)
- Try and incorporate more gear than just the favorites
- Try and get a little outside of your comfort zone - for me, that’s theory and composition.
- Keep it relatively short - if I won’t listen to an hour long jam, most others probably won’t either.
Yeah, it’s not necessarily bad not to meet some of your goals. When I worked in Silicon Valley, there was this mantra that if you hit every goal that you set for yourself, then it means you are too conservative in your goal setting. You won’t know your limits until you hit them. In fact, the accepted rule of thumb seemed to be that you should be missing up to 50% of your goals to ensure that you’re really at the top of your game.
Great points about leaving more challenging things for the weekend when there’s more time. I also agree that a shorter duration works best. At the same time, I want my own jams to be more than jingles, or, to be more upfront: not cool 4-bar loops repeating a few times . So I set out with the intention of producing between 3 and 5 minutes of material. I wasn’t successful there every day, but again, setting that goal ensured I hit it more often than not. And even on the days I haven’t, it’s not by a large margin.
I personally like prompts, because they give me a challenge, something to conform to. But then again, sometimes I just make up my own prompt to justify my behavior
I’m not that strict with rules. I try to post everyday, but with a fulltime job and 3 young kids this is not really achievable.
I did however set me a rule this year, to not spend more than 1 hour a day on Jamuary. So that’s one hour to:
- come up with an idea
- work that idea into a tune / loop
- record while you’re playing and fiddling with that loop (so yeah, live performance is a requirement)
- post the result
All that in 1 hour. So far I succeeded once.
I really love reading other creators their reason why participating with Jamuary.
It’s funny that a lot of people around me who see the sudden increase of activity on my channel asked if I’m in a competition or something and then I need to explain that it is everything but!
This is the second year I participate and this time I knew what I got myself into. I have the luxery that my wife is extremely supportive of my crazy 31 days in a row music activity and she gives me all the time and space I need in the evening, after everything that needs to be done has been done and ofc the kiddos are asleep.
This website is my main guideline and motivator, I see the promt as challenges and follow them when I feel like it, but at the end of the month my online digital alter ego WILL be judged by the spirit who invited him to do this years Jamuary in the first place.
This is all part of an long time ongoing little personal journey to which even I don’t know what will happen next.
Most important thing for me is to have fun, learn a few new tricks but most important, write awesome tracks that I would not have written otherwise and discover other epic artist and equipment.
I enjoy the conversation. Here’s my approach, no rules, anything goes:
- Audio only (soundcloud)
- Every jam gets its own Ableton Liveset which means I can revisit and refine if some jam should be worthy of more work.
- I’ll accept any shortcut to make sure I ship (using amp-simulator etc).
- Educational purpose: Learning/relearning equipment I have bought or neglected lately. Or practising hardware techniques live.
- Reverse engineering: I might try to mimic some moments/sounds in other artists’ songs that I have admired for some time.
- Laboratory: Try out ideas (“recipes”) that I’ve carried for some time.
- No shame
- Just get something (a loop) started, then add layers.
- Upload fast without hesitation.
- Keeping the streak is important, but not as important as family, which includes dog, kids, homework, keeping spouse happy
- Focus on discovery
I forgot my other rule for Jamuary (and similar competitions): no excuses! As in, don’t apologize.
Many times when I post something I want to apologize for it not being perfect: the video recording is too dark, the mix is unbalanced, I got a note wrong in the solo, etc. I always refrain myself from doing that, and I try to focus on the fact that I did something that I wouldn’t normally do.
You know Beto, to me the most important is that you’ve created a little place for us all to come together and do what we all love most, every single one of use joining this little journey called Jamuary.
Celebrating the art of creation <3
And I can’t wait for Jamuary 2024 and be prepaired even more than I am right now and fail even harder with everything I have had in mind, but that is the joy of it, it challenges me to reach new heights, and I have already written a handfull of tracks I would have missed out on otherwise.
That consistency is exactly what has been working so well for me, so I really recognise the sentiment. Same with learning something new. Usually I have a lot of ideas throughout the day, and having a set moment where I sit down really helps with getting somewhere with those ideas. I am really planning on keeping that up in some way.
The prompts are great btw, even if only they invoke the “no, I really don’t feel like doing that particular prompt today” feeling. Which usually leads to me realising what I actually want to do.
So in general my goals are (in order of importance):
- Have fun
- Share something every day
- Learn something new
- Practice mixing/mastering
- Keep it within reasonable time (ideally this would be about 1 hour, but usually this turns into 2)
- Combine with video (animation or live recorded)
I am also planning on doing FAWM this year for the first time, seems like a really interesting challenge!
Fully agreed, this forum is really the main reason I am able to keep up, being inspired by everything that is shared by everyone.
I am really hoping we can do it this way again next year!
New here but have participated since day 1.
I come from live music as vocalist mainly and bassist secondly and my goals for Jamuary are unrefined+in the moment jams where I learn stuff every day. I upload it on Soundcloud for this month but eventually I will refine the stuff in February/March. So it’s basically my year starter for not slacking on doing music the whole of 2023.
My rules are:
- MOST IMPORTANT:
Jam for each Jamuary day - every day missed I’ll do in February - to have a total of 31.
- Every day I have to learn something new, no matter how small (no judgement from myself).
- Fully accept all outcomes and embrace the cringe. The raw, undefined shit gets posted on Soundcloud regardless. (In most cases after a week or so I end up liking at least elements of it anyways).
- Only follow the prompts if they make sense for me.
WHY I’m doing Jamuary or what’s the end goal?
- Being able to work my RC505 well so that I can use it in a live performance.
- If I’m lucky I might have some raw outline of a workflow at the end of the 31 days.
I have been increasingly dissatisfied with my Jams lately. I realized yesterday I’m doing the opposite of what I set out to do, or at least what I’ve long known to be the most creative.
Being a singer-songwriter at the core I’ve found (before) that guitar/voice for me works as a kind of compass. I can almost put myself in any kind of strange sonic territory and find my way home to something song-like.
Knowing this I should have done more experiments, get quirky loops started and jammed guitar on top. Instead, short of time, lately (or actually for most of my jams) I have been starting out on guitar trying to add the electronics later. That will work when I have an idea that’s good. But when I don’t I end up with some “meat & potatoes” dish that bores me to death.
I don’t want to apologize for my jams, but I want to express my frustration for not getting my music to places more interesting.
Maybe that’s learning then.
I’m pretty sure we are all, at some point, and at various degrees, dissatisfied with our Jams.
I think it’s part of the game, and it’s part of what a jam is actually. It’s not possible to be excellent every day, to be completely available for music, etc.
While I start to listen to what I did (whether it’s a good idea of not) I also have some issues, more or less of the same kind : I thought I would jump more into uneasy and uncanny territories, like Jazz soloing for example.
AFAIC, I enjoyed listening to your things. And I think it’s definitely part of the learning to see how you behave in the heat of the action.
And finally : we have 6 Jams to go. It’s not to late to put yourself into trouble
Thanks @Johann – don’t mean to be whining.
In a way I’d like to view it as an insight. Sometimes we arrive at more interesting things when we just react to something compared to when we create from scratch. Putting myself in trouble should be the way to go!
I’ve found the same thing. I think that if I wasn’t sharing something each day, I might experiment a bit more. Trying to come up with something coherent to share has led to me falling back on certain techniques and plugins a little too often.
On the other hand, if I wasn’t sharing something each day then I wouldn’t be producing anywhere near as much.
I can relate to not being satisfied with every jam. My outlook is more positive though, I already released over 4X the jams than last year and I’m pretty confident at this point I will pull off 31 for 31.
While there are people whining about quality over quantity, I personally find that in life quality comes from quantity. The professionals simply have larger garbage bins. Experience trumps all.
So while not all my jams are stellar, I already tried out so many things big and small I wanted to attempt for a long time… I can’t really be dissatisfied, even with my crippling perfectionism. Having to come up with something each day forced me to forget about any artistic pretenses, about consciously trying to be unique and special. Turns out the end result takes care of itself!
That being said, I am eagerly awaiting the end of the One Jam Each Day period as this pace is not sustainable at all