Bing! Jingle winner Bennington College alum

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DAWSON RASPUZZI

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Day number one was titled "In the Time of the Gods," number 207 was about robots, numbers 46 and 260 were both about Zelda, and Wednesday, day number 285, was about about the dogs in a high-kill shelter in New York City.

The songs, about topics that have little in common, have been written, sung, recorded and then uploaded to the Web by Jonathan Mann every day since Jan. 1, 2009 when he began his song-a-day project.

Fun-A-Day project

It started from an idea he read on a flyer for The Artclash Collective’s Fun-A-Day Project, which encourages people to create a project and produce one piece of artwork each day in the month of January.

"When I heard about that, I said ‘I’ll write a song and make a video for every day in the month of January,’" Mann said. "I did that and had such a good time doing that, and had such a good response online in January, I decided I’d keep going."

A Westford native, Mann, 27, graduated from Bennington College in 2004 with a degree in music and recording before moving to Berkeley, Calif.

While at Bennington, Mann said he played in several bands and learned how to make the music videos he posts every day.

Mann, who’s been writing songs since he was 12, has had an online presence for many years and now posts his daily videos on his blog rockcookiebottom.com. The videos are both a passion and a source of income as many of them are submitted to different online contests.

"I’m always entered into five or six video contests at a time," Mann said. "There are thousands of different video contests online, but I tend to focus on ones that have cash prizes to help me pay my rent."

A recent contest winner was his song "Bing Goes the Internet" in Microsoft’s "Bing Jingle Contest" to advertise the new search engine.

The jingle, number 202 in his song-a-day project, was labeled "both catchy and funny" by Microsoft. Although, other people’s less than enthusiastic opinions about the winning jingle made it a topic for debate between bloggers and ended up bringing national attention to Mann, as well as more publicity to Bing, Mann said.

Mann said he is always checking to see what people are saying about his music and saw the published negativity about the jingle. But Mann took criticism in stride for a few reasons: He doesn’t write his songs to please other people; he writes them for himself (although he does take requests on his Web site for days when he needs help with ideas), and because he didn’t like the jingle he wrote in about 30 minutes very much either.

"I definitely hate it," Mann said. "I knew going into (the contest) that the prize was only $500 so I spent very little time on it."

Mann said songs that he decides to put more effort into take him from four to six hours to write, but some days when he doesn’t have much time, they take about half an hour. Of all the songs Mann writes, about 10 percent of them he labels "great," 70 percent he says have turned out "OK" and 20 percent are "garbage," he said.

"There’s none that I wish I hadn’t done, but there are many I think that aren’t that good," Mann said. "I think that any song writer has that same ratio, but most song writers you only see the 10 percent they deem to be great, and I’m putting it all out there."

While he’s closing in on completing a full year of writing and recording a new song each day, Mann’s fan base continues to grow through word of mouth. Now, people across the country check out his clips each day and submit ideas for future songs.

Some of his more recent songs have come from those requests, while others come from every day interactions Mann has with the world around him, he said.

"A lot of times I’ll just be reading blogs online or reading the news and something will catch my eye and I’ll write a song about it. My bike got stolen last night, so my song today is about my bike being stolen," Mann said in an interview Thursday.

Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at draspuzzi@benningtonbanner.com


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