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

 

Building the site: The Header

I wanted to create a header for this site that draws people in and immediately lets them know what Jersey Alternative is all about. I used images that I feel convey some of the feelings that people get from music, and images that are inherently associated with music. After playing around with four or five different ideas for a potential header, I decided to use the one you see here (which is actually the first one I made!).

I used an advanced Google Image search to find photos that were “labeled for use with modification”, that way I wouldn’t be running into any legal issues with any images I used. I wanted to use a concert photo as the background. I liked the lighting of this photo as well as its symmetry. Then I experimented using images of turntables, vinyl records, CDs, and cassettes, but in the end I decided to use the boombox graphic. It uses the same black and white color scheme as the crowd photo, but at the same time it still stands out on its own.

When putting my two images together using Pixlr, I didn’t want the end product to look forced, or like I had just copied and pasted one random image on top of another. I used three layers in the image, so that I could edit each part of the final image separately without having to delete anything or start over to make changes. I first edited the size of the photos to fit into the header space. To help the images blend into each other better, I decided to use the transparency tool and made the boombox about 65% transparency. That way, the boombox graphic doesn’t completely dominate the image – the crowd and stage are still visible through it – but anyone looking at it can still tell what it is. In the end, creating the header image was actually very simple.