LoginCreate Account

The Five Rules of InCoAlMo

The Rule of 40

Your album must be a full-length concept album completed in the month of March. The total run-time of the artistic content of an InCoAlMo album must be at least 40 minutes.

EPs are cool things, but the idea is to set the bar high and push ourselves. Definitions of "full-length" (or Long Play (LP)) albums vary, but most classic and modern studio records run at least 40 minutes, so that's the rule. Note that choice of words up above, too. "Non-artistic" time, like gaps between tracks, doesn't count.

Why a concept album? Because they're cool. Because it can be a seed to rapidly crystalize your ideas. And because it's part of the spirit of the thing. Dive deep into something, no matter how meaningful or superficial, heavy or frivolous, and explore it. Take new angles, broaden your perspective, and weave what you find into your work. What makes it a concept album? That's up to you. Read up on it, if you want, but much like our inspiration, NaNoWriMo, we say "If you believe it's a concept album, so do we."

The Rule of 30

The idea here is to create an album, not merely record one. No more than 30% of your run-time material can be written before the 1st of March.

What does "written" mean? Use your judgment. If you're a songwriter and have chords and lyrics, your song is written, even if you plan to add supporting parts. Got full lyrics but no music? Count it as half written. Got a chorus totally done but starting multiple verses and a big long bridge from scratch? A quarter. You have a main theme in your head for your electronica piece but nothing else? You have only the piano part for your master concerto? Pick a fraction. Make it make sense.

In general, jotting down notes and ideas doesn't count. Taking time to brainstorm and explore the album's concept in advance is part of what gets us amped to then create it when the starting gun goes off.

The Rule of 20

Got a killer piece or two "in the can" that you _really_ want to use to anchor your record? Fine. Up to 20% of your run-time can be recorded before March 1st, but no more.

So what does that mean? In general, material that appears on the album recognizably and mostly unbroken counts as "recorded". If you've got those lead vocals and rhythm guitar laid down already, even if you plan to overdub bass, drums, flute and congas, it counts. You plan to run 90 seconds of clips from your favorite TV show to kick off a track? It counts. On the flip side, if you have 34 minutes of ambient sound you recorded in a crowded diner that won't "define" a piece because it'll be buried in the background, that's fine. Don't count it. You have a zillion hours of recorded samples that you're going to slice, dice, warp, bend, and re-arrange to create something entirely new? No problem. Again, just make it make sense.

The Rule of 10

No more than 10% of your run-time can be cover material. Id est, 90%+ of your record must be original work.

"Original" means composed/created entirely by you, your group, and/or collaborators in cooperation with the intent to create new art. Do you work with long samples? Do you like to make mash-ups? No problem. Just make it new. And undeniably yours.

The Rule of 0

Last but not least (despite its name) is the Rule of Zero. Zero is how much we care if you break the rules. ... so long as you make it known.

If you decide to bend a rule – or even downright toss one entirely – in order to realize whatever you want to get out of InCoAlMo, do it. All we fellow artists ask is that you document that. Somewhere in your InCoAlMo blog or album notes, let us know what rules you messed with and why. It's not so much about being fair as it is about sharing your process. We want to see what inspired your art, and how coloring outside the lines made it cooler in the end.

The main point of InCoAlMo is to create. Beyond that, it's about challenging ourselves. Sure, folks could break all the rules above and bust out a record in no time. Go them. It's hard to guess what reward they'd get out of declaring victory if that were the case, but it's not important. If you're really into this, you get it. Follow the spirit of the law.

... which also goes for following the rules, by the way. For example, spending the month of February pre-recording/pre-writing 20%/30% of your record – while technically within the rules – isn't the idea. ... but then again, maybe it is. I guess it's up to you. In the end, it's just about challenging yourself enough to push your limits, and only you know what that means.