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Wanna Make An Album? Start Right Now!

The author, up for the "Challenge."
The author, up for the "Challenge."

I love a deadline and every February I get one. Thanks to The Wire, a small New Hampshire magazine that started the tradition in 2006, I make an album every year. They call it the , and the challenge is this: write and record an album in the time between the first and last days of February. To qualify as an album, it just needs to be 10 songs or 35 minutes of music. When you're done, burn it to a CD and mail it in. That's it.

This will be my seventh RPM Challenge. I've overcome my fear of singing and writing words thanks to this project. Because this is a challenge and not a contest you won't be judged. I found that a winning combination — pressure without the pressure, if you know what i mean.

Hear a song sung by Bob Boilen for the RPM Challege a few years ago

So I want you to join in the fun. If you always find other reasons not create music: If it's too much work, if there are always family commitments, if you're just too tired, if you'll definitely do it, but only "when I get really inspired" ... Here's a reason to get a bit less sleep, to feel great about yourself come the end of the month. Just start. It's amazing how much time you can find if you stay up a bit later, get up a little earlier or just tuck 30 minutes aside every day. Even if you don't finish, you'll have something to refine over the course of the year. It's a great excuse to break out of a dry spell, to try new ideas, to be somewhat more carefree about your work.

Over the course of the month I'll share my progress. This year I'm going to make an album with my friend and former Tiny Desk Unit band mate Michael Barron. We call ourselves Danger Painters. This will be our fifth album together — every one of them made in February, every one for the RPM Challenge. This isn't a contest; no one wins a prize, though your finished album is a wonderful gift to give to your friends and the best gift you'll give to yourself.

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