It started off as a rash decision on the back of a rant. As it's progressed, I've discovered some interesting (to me at least) things. It has made me think a lot more about the songwriting process, what it means to me and what it means to other people. I've tried to get into the head of the person who originally raised $16,000 in order to do an identical thing, and I admit I have occasionally wondered if she was feeling the same as me through the ebb and flow of the process, from the earlier enthusiasm, through the feeling of flexing creative muscles, to the realisation that coming up with something new every single week can be a pain in the arse, and wondering just how little you have to do in order to get away with it, and how much of a difference that sixteen grand has on the tidal level of enthusiasm.
Today I finally got a piece of feedback I've been impatiently waiting for. Someone finally said that the last two songs were very poor. I agree, and have been surprised not to have had a reaction to this earlier. I thought I was going mad. I was starting to think I'd have to fart in a bottle to elicit that response.
I knew last week's was poor, and I said so at the time. However, that may have come across as a 'fishing expedition' for compliments, and I took the compliments I received with a pinch of salt, just in case people were answering the fishing expedition by obliging and humouring me.
This week, I made no attempt whatsoever to make a good song. My target for this week was to create a song in the shortest possible time, with the minimum possible effort and disruption to my week, with no consideration given to any aspect of quality, creativity or precision whatsoever. The resulting song took just over half an hour and was pap.
But it was a song. It counted. No hypothetical refund required.
And when you've already got the money, there's no caveat that says the subscriber has to like the song, or even that the song has to be good.
This week's song is the worst yet, but, because it was done in half an hour on the last day of the week, I considered the week a roaring success.
Having given it some more thought, however, I'm not so sure.
It would be a roaring success if I'd set out to prove that you could just make any old rubbish and fulfil your obligation. But that wasn't what I was trying to do, otherwise I'd have spent five minutes a week thrashing out utter trash, but still complying with the rules.
It was supposed to be a balance, minimising disruption to my week, but still coming up with something of a minimum acceptable quality - multi-tracked, varied, considered, etc. By going below the minimum acceptable level (and I was probably pushing that last week - this week I dipped way below) I've broken the 'crap barrier' and been rightly called out on it.
However, it would be disingenuous of me to suggest that the fall in quality was entirely deliberate. Although I was interested in seeing just how little effort a person could get away with and still comply with the funding contract, there were other forces at play.
The first is the short one, so I'll get that out of the way first; the second probably deserves a post of its own.
The short answer is that I've been much busier, in my work and home life. In the first few weeks of January, the household was relaxed, I was enjoying the post-Christmas lull in the work calendar, the missus was back at work after the holidays, and I had loads of time on my hands. In the last few weeks, I've been touring much harder, the wife's work has been more demanding on the household, and my teenage son has been staying, bringing his noise and chaos with him. Writing songs has fallen way down the list of priorities.
If all goes to plan, however, by the second half of the week the Boy will once more be gone (though things rarely go to plan where the Boy is concerned), and after next weekend's gigs, Doleman domestic obligations have left a little hiatus in the tour schedule, so all may quieten again. It will be interesting to see if the quality improves again over the next two weeks. That depends entirely on how important this reason is compared to the deeper implication - you know, the one that deserves a post of its own.
Expect that before too long.