(Inter)National Solo Album Month is a fun, free annual challenge in which musicians write and record an entire solo album during the month of November. NaSoAlMo favours enthusiasm and perseverance rather than perfectionism. It encourages musicians and would-be songwriters to silence their inner critic for thirty days in order to inspire and maximize productivity. The albums are likely to be hastily written, off-time, and out of tune; the main objective is to just do it.

Previous Participantion Lists: 2014 - 2013 - 2012

How to sign up

Like last year, NaSoAlMo will be run in the low-tech, Internet-circa-1996 style. To sign up, email admin@nasoalmo.org with the following details:

When the album is finished, email admin@nasoalmo.org again with your name and, optionally, a link to the final album along with the album length.

This year, the forum has migrated to reddit under the /r/NaSoAlMo subreddit. This is a great place for encouraging one another, discussing methods and equipment, sharing production woes, and showing off your final work when it's complete!

All the best,
Matthew
admin@nasoalmo.org

Looking for administrator(s)

We are looking for people with NaSoAlMo experience to help administer the forum. Please get in touch (via email: admin@nasoalmo.org) if you have successfully completed a NaSoAlMo and would be interested in participating on the admin side of things! Thanks! - Matthew

About NaSoAlMo

NaSoAlMo is a challenge to write and record a solo album (defined as 29:09) of original music in one month. It was inspired by NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, during which writers attempt to write a novel in 30 days.

The intention behind the challenge is to encourage musicians to create new music, and to go for quantity rather than getting bogged down by trying to produce a polished piece of work. The deadline of November 30th forces participants to persevere: creating, performing, and recording without censorship or second-guessing. Determination counts more than talent. With the short time frame, not all of what is created will be good, but that's OK!

The only goal of NaSoAlMo is to produce an album. By silencing the inner critic and focusing on playing and creating, participants can turn their attention to just getting something made. A liberating experience for perfectionists, and a fantastic playground for experimentalists.

Even though quality is not the goal, some participants have found that the intense and time-limited structure of NaSoAlMo has actually helped them to produce some of their best songs.

You do not need expensive sound recording or musical equipment to participate. You can make your NaSoAlMo album by singing and banging on pizza boxes with a toothbrush while recording on your answering machine. If you have million dollar musical instruments and a recording studio then go ahead and use that. The mode is up to you, the effort is up to you, and the result is up to you.

Participants can make the kind of music they want to make - previous album genres range from electronic to folk to rock, and from experimental to self-identified guff to absolutely and completely unclassifiable.

The key to NaSoAlMo is participation, and learning to have fun just creating with abandon. It is a unique opportunity to turn your ambitions into achievements, and to learn a great deal in the process. As an adult, there are not enough excuses to play and try new things, and too much perfectionist pressure that keeps many of us from playing at all. NaSoAlMo is the perfect antidote to the way of the busy world, a tonic for your musical soul, and an opportunity to enjoy creativity for its own sake.

NaSoAlMo FAQ

So How Does NaSoAlMo work?

NaSoAlMo is open to everyone, and there is no cost to participate. Follow the steps below to your successful month of music-making:

  1. Register for the challenge on this website, the full directions are at the bottom of the participants page. You will choose your artist name and an album title, which can always be updated before, during and after NaSoAlMo.
  2. Announce to the world that you are going to write and record an album in November! Say hello on the reddit page, if you haven't yet. Get your fan base hyped for your finished product. Alternatively, tell no one but start pumping yourself up for an intense month of fun and productivity.
  3. Prior to the first of November: Although you cannot start writing lyrics or recording anything that you will use on your album, you can prepare for the busy month ahead. Set up your recording space and equipment, gather your musical instruments, install editing software, or whatever else you need to do so you are prepared on the 1st of November. Remember, there is no right way to make an album, and the equipment involved can range from low-tech to hi-tech. Zero planning is also a legitimate "strategy".
  4. On the 1st of November at 12:00AM (local time), let the music-making begin!
  5. From the 1st of November to the 30th, write and record your solo album. The "rules" include:
    • The finished album must be a minimum of 29:09 minutes
    • It should include all original material, with the exception of one song which may be a cover
    • The style, instruments, recording equipment, content and form are all up to you. If you think it's music, it's music.
  6. During the month, feel free to also post on the reddit page about your trials, tribulations, and successes. The month will be roller-coaster ride of creative ups and downs and the subreddit is a great place to share your experiences with people around the world who are all going through the same thing.
  7. Finish by the 30th of November at midnight (local time). If you have an album of at least 29:09 then you are a winner and have earned entry into the hallowed ranks of the Holders of the Golden Record!
  8. Proudly announce to the world your success as the writer and performer of a solo album. You can now spend the rest of your life working into conversation gloating tidbits like "When I was writing my first album..."

For the purposes of NaSoAlMo, what exactly is a solo album?

An collection of music you have written, played and recorded entirely by yourself. The shortest inarguably awesome album that a lot of people have heard* is the first Ramones album**, which is 29:09 long, so your solo album must be at least that long. Beyond that, its form and content are up to you.

* It has been pointed out to the administrators that Slayer's Reign In Blood is 29:03 and that Nick Drake's Pink Moon--which actually is a solo album--is a mere 28:22. You may set your personal goals accordingly, if you wish.

** Since the Ramones album includes a cover of "Let's Dance," your NaSoAlMo album may, if you wish, include one cover of somebody else's song.

So is this a competition? Who's judging it? What do I win? What if it's not good enough? Do I have to send it in? Do I have to play it for anyone? Help!

No. This isn't a competition, this is a challenge. Winners are anyone who completes a solo album by the 30th of November. What you will have won is that you will have made an album by yourself. You don't need to play it for anyone else, and you certainly don't have to send it in. You are welcome to share a link to the finished album, but this is not a requirement. It doesn't have to please anyone but yourself, and even that isn't really necessary. You are going for your own personal best here. The point is actually doing the work; starting and finishing the project. The deadline makes it easy!

Does it have to be professional-sounding?

Of course not. It doesn't have to be professional-anything; the point is the fun of making it. This challenge encourages you to record with whatever you've got around the house.

How do I sign up for NaSoAlMo? And then what do I do?

Sign up by the end of October by registering on this site. You can find directions on how to sign up at the bottom of the participants page. At 12:01 AM , local time, on the 1st of November, you can start work on your solo album. When you've finished by midnight on the 30th of November, update everyone on your progress to be recognized in the winner's hall of fame as a Holder of the Golden Record.

Can I do this with a band? Can my friend play drums/sing etc?

Unfortunately, not for NaSoAlMo. This is a solo album!

Do I have to take a month off of work to make this happen? Does participating in this challenge mean that I will not see my friends/family in November?

No, not at all. While obviously NaSoAlMo is a big undertaking, it is possible to fit it into a normal working and life schedule. You too can hold down a job and make an album!

Isn't this just a rip-off of NaNoWriMo?!

Yes. Totally. Thanks go to Chris Baty and team for the inspiration. The concept of a month of literary abandon also works well when applied to a month of musical abandon.

Does this site host the music?

No, it does not. However, two popular places to upload and share your music for free are Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

Do I have to pay to participate?

Absolutely not! This is a free challenge for everyone. Please note that this website is run on a volunteer basis. We want everyone to have a successful month of creative music-making and we will do our best to encourage you all in your endeavours and to keep the website up and running.