Short for February Album Writing Month, FAWM has existed in one form or another for I believe over a decade, starting out as a Yahoo Group. Every February, thousands of songwriters, musicians and composers of varying levels of experience endeavor to write 14 songs in 28 days. There are also two spin-off challenges: 50/90 which runs from July 4th to the end of September, and Rocktober, which is reserved for covers, preferably of FAWMers' songs, but also of popular music. Every year there is a compilation CD available with some of the most polished works, but not necessarily the best.
Like any community, FAWM has its core group of regulars balanced against a constant influx of newbies. Some of the most common faces include Calum Carlyle, Benjamin Nolan, Errol, Das Binky, Heavy Hedonist/Exploding Mary, T.C. Elliot, Helen, Debs, John Crossman, Nancy Rost, Kim o' the Concrete Jungle, Sean T Wright, Elaine DiMasi, G. Slade, expendable friend, and Valerie Cox.
Here are some of the artists to watch (my favorites):
Sapient Network - The resident shredder. Usually, he makes black or death metal, but he also does a bit of thrash and occasionally goth. Excellent production values, great death growl, sweet solos, decent lyrics.
Lorna Hunt/lhuntx - Great vocalist, excellent acoustic guitar rhythms. She branched out into more complex musical territory. One of my favorite people.
Nam June Robot/Neon Turbo Jam - Soundclick here. Bad Memory is one of my favorite songs, period. Doesn't seem like the usual, stuff, though.
Rosalyn/rosieposie8 (I think) - Pretty great keyboardist and vocalist. One of her best was Too Late to Fight.
Nick Dickies - He plays a bass, he makes indie rock.
orinoco - Excellent singer and songwriter, sounds a bit like Ricky Martin, but good.
Nancy Rost - Keyboardist. Usually I'm not into her stuff, but a collaboration with Calum Carlyle called Heart turned out awesomely this year.
Echo Voodoo - Great with chiptune rhythms/backing tracks. Has branched out more lately.
Das Binky - Another shredder, but he doesn't play metal as often. Has good music occasionally. Questionable taste.
testthebest - Just great vocals, really.
Heavy Hedonist - Only writes lyrics, but they're good. Great person, very supportive.
tuomoh - Finnish alt metal. I'm not sure what the lyrics mean, but it sounds wicked awesome.
jonniegrunge - Pop rock.
Tobermory - Very valuable as a drummer. Makes excellent and eclectic rock songs
, knows his way around a melody and a guitar. I recommend Leipzig's Ghosts. (You have to find it; I'm not direct linking.)
Benjamin Nolan - Messes around with so many possibilities it is insane. One song used a Japanese vocaloid, another used only vocals on a loop pedal. Has written songs in over a dozen languages, and often uses foreign instruments.
Jinx Montague - Some folk and acoustic guitar, maybe other kinds of music, too? Very nice voice.
Valerie Cox - Makes some nice garage/pop rock. One of the handful of FAWMers with better guitar chops.
taylortay - Interest in space rock and some classic-style rock.
Kato Ninetails - Recently has made some true post-rock in the form of The Icy Depths in two parts. Some of the best and most professional-sounding rock on FAWM, and not to be missed.
There's nothing else you need to know to get started. Record yourself however you can, or just write some lyrics, or just sit back and enjoy the quality tunes.