A group of 25 musicians from around the globe, 10 of whom are from Montana, created 52 songs each, inspired by 52 prompts, throughout the course of 2022.
“I never felt like I was a songwriter … I didn’t think it was gonna be possible and the more I thought about it I was like, ‘Oh man, I’d love to give this a shot," said Chris Smith, one of the musical artists from Montana.
The international cohort would gather via the Discord app to discuss prompts, share songs, and provide feedback to one another.
“Being fully immersed in creativity for a whole year, having to bust something out every week, it’s something you develop a relationship with," said Lindsey Jacobsen, a Montana artist.
The songwriters involved were mostly strangers with varying degrees of musical experience, making participation nerve-racking, according to those involved.
“It’s very vulnerable … I never once, ever, felt anything but encouragement and love and a real comradery that we’re in this together," said Smith.
Those who took part said the 365-day exercise disarmed their artistic temperaments and prevented any opportunity for creators to pick apart their work, making a stream of creative consciousness.
“I noticed that perfectionism starting to melt away because you have to turn in crappy songs. There’s no way to do songwriting that fast and actually come up with good ones every week," said Jenna Greenwell, a Montana songwriter.
The performers said they now see that the hand of the creator, or as journalist Ira Glass put it, the ghost in the machine, is what makes music listenable.
“It’s those human parts. It’s those aspects that are not on the grid, the acoustic guitars that are slightly out of tune, that are not in time perfectly, that grab your ear," said Jake Goldberg, a Montana musician.