Guest Post: 808 Sounds & Snares

Hey everyone! As mentioned in my previous posts, Jersey Alternative is featuring a guest post as part of the collaborative campaign to help promote VH1’s Save the Music Foundation. 808 Sounds & Snares is another site that is all about music. Here, editor Macaulay Martinez talks about his video:

“808 sounds & snares presents a screencast talking about VH1’s Save the Music Foundation and their social media presence. Also discussing their website and their primary objective as a non profit organization that promotes music in a complete education for those in grades k-12. Also discussed is the Save the Music foundation partners as well as events and promotions that they had in the past as well as future endeavors. This campaign has been powered by myself along with help from my colleagues; Bridging the Gap and Jersey Alternative, all of which share a similar interest in music and the push for a complete education that involves music as well.”

VH1 Save the Music in New Jersey

Hello everyone! Jersey Alternative, along with 808 Sounds & Snares and Bridging the Gap, has been working hard for the last several weeks on our collaborative campaign. If you missed the announcement post, our campaign will help promote VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing elementary and middle schools with brand-new musical instruments to help build and revitalize their music education programs.

As part of the campaign, I wanted to take a look at some of the impact that Save the Music has had on different schools. And I thought, what better place to start than schools right here in New Jersey? Here in my latest podcast, I’ll be discussing the impact Save the Music has had on schools in Trenton, Jersey City, and New Brunswick.

I hope you enjoyed listening! More importantly, visit VH1 Save the Music Foundation to find out how you can help. You can donate directly or organize a fundraiser. You can also make a difference through AmazonSmile – a portion of every purchase you make will go to Save the Music. And don’t forget to sign up for their email updates!

Be sure to check out my partners’ pages and see their own projects, as well as everyone’s guest posts coming up soon!

The song used in the podcast is “Out of School”, by Jahzzar, found on the Free Music Archive.

 

Memes!

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Today I thought it’d be interesting to talk about something we see on the internet every day: memes! But what does that have to do with music?

  • Memes are shared by regular people. While sometimes they’re created by companies as a way to promote a product or an idea, usually they’re created as a commentary on current events, pop culture, or cultural norms. They’re usually rapidly spread from the ground up via social media.
  • The traditional model of releasing music is much less prevalent than it was a couple of decades ago. Fewer artists are getting signed to record labels, and record deals aren’t as lucrative to artists as they used to be. Many are completely forgoing labels. Instead they opt to release and sell their music themselves through channels like Bandcamp or iTunes, and promote themselves via social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Sometimes, independent artists will even create their own memes, whether to promote an upcoming show or a new music release.
  • Both meme creators and independent artists eliminate a middleman and instead depend on a grassroots following to spread their work.

That being said, I wanted to take a look at this Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton meme. Earlier this year, during the Democratic primaries, this meme took many different forms with different topics and captions from the two candidates. Usually, it depicts Sanders talking in detail about a topic and Clinton showing a very basic understanding of it, implying that Sanders came across as more “authentic” to voters and Clinton giving the impression that she pandered to what voters wanted to hear.

There’s sometimes a certain attitude among music fans that in order to be a “real fan” of an artist, someone has to know every song, album, and fact about them. Here, the creator doesn’t seem to be doing this as any sort of top down/promotional branding, but is just doing it as social commentary and to poke fun at the candidates. Sanders is shown having extensive knowledge of the band Brand New’s discography, while Clinton is depicted as only knowing the band’s most popular song. Here, they’re implying that Sanders was “authentic”, while Clinton was a “poser”.

Regardless of anyone’s political views or who was the “better” candidate, the meme worked because it melded people’s perceptions of the candidates while also making fun of “fake” fans.

Check out these videos!

For decades, the local music scene in New Jersey has helped launch the careers of countless musicians, some of whom have gained international fame. It’s been home to dozens of venues that have helped foster a community of music fans who otherwise might not “fit in”, and it’s helped thousands nurture their love of music. I wanted to share these two videos because I think they provide unique perspectives of the impact that local music has had.

The first video is by NJTV News and interviews Frank Bridges, who is a Ph.D. candidate and lecturer at Rutgers University who has played in bands, was a DJ, and owned an indie record label in New Brunswick. He and Rutgers librarian Christie Lutz have helped create the New Brunswick Music Scene Archive at Alexander Library. The growing archive includes show flyers, photos, videos, records, cassettes, and other paraphernalia that helps tell the story of the New Brunswick scene.

The second video is the short documentary “New Jersey Music Scene: Chasing A Dream”. Here, several local bands are featured, including Patent Pending, The Racer, and This Good Robot, among others. They talk about their own experiences playing in front of audiences in New Jersey, and what makes these audiences so unique and special compared to audiences in other parts of the country. Band members discuss what it’s like starting a band and struggling to gain acceptance in the scene and how rewarding and fulfilling playing music can be.

The two videos differ in their approach but are both equally valuable. The first comes from a historical perspective and aims to preserve as much as possible so people can learn about the evolution of the New Brunswick scene. The second is from the perspective of those currently involved in the Jersey scene and their own personal experiences. They can both be tied to W. Lance Bennett’s theory of the Actualizing Citizen. Here, social change is administered through “loose networks of community action” (14) and various social networks. These ties have helped create and sustain local music scenes.

To learn more about Bennett’s theory, click here.

How trustworthy are our sources?

How trustworthy are our sources? The above video talks about the benefits of learning to play a musical instrument, uploaded by TED-Ed. Although the users’ faces don’t all show their faces in the video, the end credits list the names of everyone involved in its creation. Anita Collins, who wrote the lesson, is an Australian educator and researcher in the field of music education. She works to understand the relationship between music education and cognitive development, and is currently Assistant Professor of Music and Arts Education at the University of Canberra and has won numerous awards. The creators of the video aren’t trying to sell anything or make any money from it and don’t require viewers to provide any personal information. It seems like the creators are passionate about the topic and benefit from educating people about the benefits of music. To that end, the content of this video is definitely trustworthy.

In an era where fake news is running rampant across the internet, it’s especially important to consider the authors of a source and their motivations behind creating a particular piece of content. My colleagues and I have to be careful who and what we cite in our individual blog posts as well as in our collaborative campaign. When discussing a topic like music education, it’s important that we look into the people behind a piece of content and determine whether they may have special political interests or something to gain monetarily. By considering these factors when doing your own research, you’ll be sure to stay informed too!

Quick Update!

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Hello everyone! As you may have read in the previous post, Jersey Alternative has begun working with 808 Sounds & Snares and Bridging the Gap to create a collaborative campaign helping promote VH1’s Save the Music Foundation. So far, our campaign’s collaborative process has been going really smoothly. Since all of our sites are centered around music, it was really easy for us all to agree to help promote VH1’s Save the Music. We all have a pretty good idea of the direction we want our campaign to go, and I think we’re going to use our own unique interests and talents to make fun, informative, and inspiring A/V projects and guest posts. We’ve achieved two milestones so far. The first is our ability to work together seamlessly, brainstorming and making decisions as a group without any speedbumps. In addition to deciding to promote Save the Music, we all have a pretty good idea of what our individual A/V projects will be (stay tuned for those!). The second milestone is that we’ve been able to work together remotely, using Google Apps. We’ve made a brainstorming/storyboard outline using Google Docs, which has been invaluable to us since everything is saved to the cloud and we’re all able to work on one document at the same time, no matter where we are.

Despite what we’ve achieved so far, we still have a long way to go. Over the next few weeks, I’m looking forward to all of us filming, recording and editing our A/V projects. We’ve all recently learned how to use both Screencast-O-Matic and Audacity, so we will probably use them to record any videos or podcasts we make and then post them to either YouTube or Soundcloud. Our final milestone is completing our write-up detailing our creative process, what we did to reach our audience, and critiquing our work.
Stay tuned to all of our sites over the next couple of weeks for more updates!

Image: Flickr

An Exciting Announcement

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(Image credit: http://www.vh1savethemusic.org/)

Hello everyone! It’s Katie, the editor of Jersey Alternative. I’m excited to announce that for the next few weeks, I’ll be working with Macaulay Martinez, the author of 808 Sounds & Snares, and DeQuan Watson, the author of Bridging the Gap to produce a collaborative campaign. Although our sites seem different, we’re all united by our love of music. We’ve decided to join forces by producing a series of podcasts and videos to promote VH1 Save The Music Foundation.

Save The Music is dedicated to providing children with a musical education to help them excel and grow both in and out of school. Our series will discuss how music gives children the confidence to excel and the types of fundraisers and charity events that have been held to promote the organization. In addition, Jersey Alternative will be making a podcast focusing on the effects that VH1 Save The Music has had on children throughout the Garden State. We’ll also be publishing guest posts by our partners on all three of our sites.

Stay tuned to Jersey Alternative, 808 Sounds & Snares, and Bridging the Gap as our campaign unfolds, and don’t forget to visit VH1 Save The Music’s website at http://www.vh1savethemusic.org to find out how you can join the cause by fundraising or signing up for their email updates.

New Jersey’s Top 10 Music Venues

For my first official podcast, I wanted to cover a topic that is important to any music fan in New Jersey. Which is: what are some of the best venues the Garden State has to offer? I didn’t want to include major arenas and stadiums like Metlife Stadium or PNC Bank Arts Center. Not that there’s anything wrong with them — I just wanted to talk about venues that host more underground, less well-known artists. I’ve been to all of the venues on this list (I didn’t want to just google “the best venues in New Jersey”, that’s why I’m making this list in the first place!), so most of my knowledge is firsthand, with the exception of some fun facts about the venues like when they were built or their capacity. In doing my research, I actually learned a lot about most of these venues, with some things I didn’t have time to mention in the podcast but are still really fascinating!
I wanted to provide a brief but well-rounded description for each venue – instead of just saying whether I liked a venue or not, I wanted to talk about their history, their significance in their towns, and what important artists have played there over the years. Listeners can hopefully get a pretty good idea of what a venue is like as well as the kind of music they can expect to see in each one. I initially tried to rank these venues, but they’re all so different and I honestly like all of them. So, I decided to instead just list them all in no particular order.
Recording the podcast itself was surprisingly simple and easy. I recorded it using Audacity, and I’ve played with Audacity in the past, but I got real hands-on experience with it a few weeks ago when I recorded the podcast intro. The only thing I really felt I had to do was increase the volume of the voice track, since it came out a little lower than the volume of the intro. The hardest thing I encountered in the entire process was finding a quiet place to record!

 

Screencast: Comparing Websites

In today’s video, I made a screencast that showcased two different websites similar to Jersey Alternative. Viewers can see their similarities and differences, and strengths and weaknesses. By making a screencast with video that shows what I’m looking at on my own computer, accompanied by narration, it lets viewers follow along better than if I had only text with still images. By critiquing these sites, it also allows people who want to delve deeper into the alternative music scene to do so, by reading articles, watching videos, and listening to podcasts on topics that this website might not cover.
I knew of several sites that I could look at for the screencast, since I already visited most of them from time to time. I decided to use Chorus.fm and Alternative Press. They are both well-established websites that have a dedicated following. As I navigated through each site, I noted things like the design including layout and widgets, the types of articles, multimedia content like podcasts and videos, and anything else that stuck out to me. After that, I wrote a script that included my thoughts about each site so I knew all the points I would cover once I started recording.
I made the video using the free app Screencast-O-Matic. Once I downloaded it, it was simple and easy to figure out how to use. I initially recorded my screencast in one take. Although I had written a script, I didn’t want to read from it directly and sound unnatural. Instead, I glanced at the script during the recording process and paraphrased a lot of it and improvised the rest. Once I was finished, I encountered a few technical issues. I tried to upload directly to YouTube several times but kept getting error messages that prevented the video from uploading completely. I then tried saving the video to my computer and then upload it myself through YouTube. Although the Screencast-O-Matic app said it saved the video file, I realized that it had saved it as an encoded text file that actually deleted itself. At that point, I had no other option than to record the screencast over again. I rerecorded it in basically the same way, and was able to successfully save the video file to my computer which I then uploaded to YouTube. If there’s any lesson to be learned from this, it’s that you should always leave extra time and be prepared for curveballs in your projects!

Podcast Introduction

I had a lot of fun playing around with Audacity making my podcast introduction. I’ve used Audacity and Adobe Audition before for editing, but I had never recorded my own clip before.

Podcasts first became popular over ten years ago, but I think they’re still valuable both personally and professionally. From podcasts on current events, different hobbies, films, music, or even investigative journalism such as Serial, I think there’s a podcast out there for every interest. They’re easy to listen to when working or commuting and allow you to multitask when listening.

I wanted to make an intro that wasn’t too long or boring, but at the same time had enough information to tell listeners what the podcast and site are all about. I started out by writing a script. Then I used the website freemusicarchive.org to find a free music clip I could use as background music. I listened to a couple dozen clips until I found one I thought would fit the best. I looked for a song that was instrumental, fit in with the style of music this site covers, and one that had a sound I thought most people would like. I first uploaded the track into Audacity and then cut it down to a 30-second clip. Then, I muted the audio and recorded my voiceover. To keep the music from drowning out my voice, I increased the volume on my voice track and then used the auto duck effect on the music. I then used the fade in and fade out effects to create a 3-second intro and outtro on the track. I then normalized it, which helped balance out some of the jumps between quiet and loud. That was it! I didn’t think making it would be so simple.

MUSIC CREDIT:

Artist: Jahzzar

Song: “Out of School”

Album: Traveller’s Guide

Source: freemusicarchive.org