Goodbye 2015, hello songaday.org

The vast majority of the New Years posts that I see each year focus only on the positive. It’s great to read about how amazing & successful everybody’s been, but without the context of the more challenging bits, I always feel like I’m missing something. So…

A Struggle

2015 was the year that I first truly grappled with the reality of raising a family on a freelancer’s salary. It’s been tough. Ultimately, I’m doing pretty well. My wife says I worry about it too much; we’re in no real danger. But I can heartily confirm that, indeed, there’s a big difference between being 26 and living with roommates as a freelancer and doing it while having a family. The stress of this is something new that I’m feeling on a pretty deep level. I hope to find ways of letting go of that stress in the new year.

That being said!

2015 ultimately felt like a big set up to what will hopefully be an equally big payoff.

There’s the speakers bureau that took me on as a client. There’s a new podcast that I’m making, and a new web show, both being created from the ground up with seriously amazing collaborators (more on these in the coming months!). There’s a new record that I’m working on, that feels different from everything I’ve released since starting Song A Day (but is also a return to my roots).

There’s one project that I can announce today, and I couldn’t be more elated.

It’s songaday.org!

Today marks 7 full years of writing and sharing a song (and video) everyday.

It’s not always easy. There are periods (sometimes long ones, over the course of weeks) when it feels like a chore. I end up doing it right before bed because the rest of the day is just full of other things. I’m really phoning it in at that point.

But I always, always do it.

Songaday.org is all about context. I’ve long been at a loss for exactly how to best present Song A Day to people. When someone discovers a random song on YouTube, maybe they know it’s part of a larger project, maybe they don’t. Maybe the song is good, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s on a subject they care about, or maybe it’s about Alan Greenspan or something.

I can’t control how people are going to come across song a day, but with this site, I can control one aspect, and that’s context. By setting today’s song against the backdrop of all the songs I wrote on this date in previous years, I hope to accomplish a few things. For one, it gives you an immediate sense of the sheer size of the project, which is frankly more impressive than any individual song could be. It also gives the listener more opportunities to hear something they might like. Finally, on a purely practical point, it gives me a very simple, easy place to send people when they want to know more about the project.

Just like with anything else in life, song a day ebbs and flows. There’s these troughs of sorrow (as it were) and then great highs of inspiration and blooming creativity. It’s cyclical. Sometimes I’ll be listening back to some of the songs and I’ll completely surprise myself: “When did I write THIS song? Wow! That’s a good one!”

How long are you going to keep going?

This is the #1 question I get asked when I tell people about my project! The answer is, and has always been, “For as long as I can.” I’ve really only come close to stopping once, at song #2000. It felt like a good stopping point. My son was born right around then, I was turning a corner in my life in a big way.

But I didn’t stop.

So now of course even if I wanted to stop (which I do feel occasionally and can change moment to moment — it’s complicated) I can really only stop on a big milestone. Stopping on 3489 or something random isn’t going to feel satisfying. It’ll have to be a big, round, even number: 3,000, 4,000, etc.

The Future

Right now, songaday.org really only does one thing well. In the future, I’d like to expand the site to do more with the spreadsheet I maintain of all the songs. A few obvious examples:

  1. It would be great to have really robust search. I’d like there to be a way to search through all of the lyrics for keywords. From what I understand, search is really hard to implement well — so maybe someday. At this point, we just have it set to search YouTube.
  2. An obvious one: The spreadsheet could be used to connect each song to it’s corresponding Bandcamp link.
  3. The site needs a way to share a particular video that you like. You can click through to YouTube and share that way, but it would be great to be able to share the video from the site itself.
  4. I’d love to someday go through all the songs and tag them appropriately (this is a huge undertaking!).
  5. I have lyrics in text files for the vast majority of the songs, and rough chord charts for 1-~1800. It would be great to have lyrics and chords easily accessible for all the videos.

I’m wide open to any ideas for other ways of interacting with Song A Day. Please get in touch with any feedback!

___________________________________________________________________

I’m easy to find on twitter and facebook
Email me: jonathan@jonathanmann.net

I’m available for commissions! I do everything from wedding & birthday gifts to announcement, explainer or theme song videos. Get in touch!