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.”

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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.

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.

Introduction

Welcome to Jersey Alternative! I wanted to create a site where music fans can come together and find out about the newest and best music, right here in New Jersey. Sure, we all know about Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and Frank Sinatra, but here you’ll find out who else is making waves. How have some of these classic artists influenced the bands coming out of our area today? How has growing up in New Jersey affected their sound and attitude?

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Credit: Aaron Houston, The Star-Ledger

It can sometimes be hard to learn more about what’s going on in your local scene if you’re not already a part of it. Here, you’ll find posts on many facets of what makes local alternative special. There’ll be spotlights on artists from New Jersey, whether they’re just breaking into the scene or have been around for years. You’ll read reviews of new releases from Jersey artists, including singles, EPs, and albums. You’ll find out about upcoming shows, read reviews of recent ones, and find out about some of the best venues in the state.

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Credit: Asbury Park Sun
I want to make this site as easy to navigate and user-friendly as possible. At the top of the page, you’ll find pages about the site, how to contact me, a page about me, and a page where you can actually submit your own content! You can submit anything to the New Jersey alternative music scene, whether it be concert reviews, album reviews, or artist profiles. On the sidebar, you’ll find widgets for a number of different sections: all of my recent posts; tags for when you’re looking for all of the posts on a particular topic; archives; categories; and links to other websites I’m currently reading and recommend. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or contact me directly!