My feet on the ground, my head in the clouds – Jahan Lennon

If you haven’t listened to “About That Life” by Diplo and Jahan Lennon, take a moment on this rainy Monday to relax and enjoy. I first heard it last fall and instantly became obsessed. I just rediscovered it this weekend while listening to a random playlist, such a happy stumble upon. If you don’t immediately want to be dancing around in a meadow full of flowers in the warm sunshine, then keep listening until that urge kicks in. I promise your case of the Mondays will instantly vanish.

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I know I’m just a tiny bit behind on my project updates. The semester has come to a crazy hectic intense mess once again where I feel like we have a mountain of things to do and we’re all just trying to dig our way out. This may be a bit of a longer post as I get you up to speed on what’s been going on, so just bear with me. I think the best place to start may be with the brief PowerPoint presentation I presented to class last week as a recap of my pre-production process. Sidenote: PowerPoint has gotten fancy with their themes…I used this cool watercolor-lookin one that I had never noticed before!

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Justification: Have you forgotten why I’m doing this project? It’s not just because I love music and completing a project on music would ultimately be the least painful route to graduation (although it doesn’t hurt, right?). I chose this particular project because I think it could really add to the music scene. There are a ton of great blogs out there that tell you what you should be listening to right now; that provide really detailed album reviews; that keep you in the loop on the top headlines in the music industry, etc. but far less provide interviews with artists in video form. Sure, you can get some great written interviews, or maybe some audio clips, but there are very few video interviews that show the artist on screen, talking candidly about music, their inspirations, what they prize most in their musical collection, what their best experiences have been, what music means to them, etc. I think this website could provide a really unique aspect to the music industry. Insights straight from artists and fans? I’m into it. I hope you are, too. Additionally, by incorporating a social media campaign into the mix, I will also be building up my portfolio to prove to potential employers that I have what it takes to do well in the social media management, branding, marketing, content development, etc. field. If this project really comes together how I daydream it can…I think it will help me land my dream job.

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Idea Inspiration: My main inspiration came from a Visual Aesthetics assignment. We had to watch video clips of well-known designers on this website, 30 Conversations on Design. I applied the simple concept of webcam interviews with designers to the world of music: welcome interviews with musicians. Watch this short Ze Frank interview to get a feel for it. Instantly more interesting to have a face in front of you, right? Other inspirations have included:

  • Music blogs of all sorts: PB&J, DML, Aquarium Drunkard, Pitchfork, Hype Machine, Pretty Much Amazing, Sunset in the Rearview, This Song Is Sick, Do Androids Dance, Neon Gold
  • Twitter accounts of music blogs, DJs, artists, producers, friends…anybody connected to music in any way. Bonnaroo is just one example of an account that has good fan involvement and has helped to develop my social media strategy
  • Austin City Music Map: I love the fan participation apparent on this site. It makes it way more personal, relevant, and interesting and I strive to make my website as participatory and personal
  • Next Big Sound: This music industry analytics tool could really help to find up and coming artists that may be willing to participate in my project and could also help them gain more recognition
  • Voices of Bowdoin-Geneva: A Boston Globe article that used Instagram in a cool way. They featured Instagram photos of people from a forgotten neighborhood in Boston and put audio clips of the person in the photo (or the person who took it) explaining the story behind the photo and what it means to them. Great inspiration for my social media strategy and storytelling aspect of the project

So many ideas swirl in my head from so much inspiration! That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Interview Questions (Artist Series)

  1. What has been your most memorable musical experience?
  2. Who is the most prized artist in your own collection and why?
  3. What tracks or artists should I be listening to right now?
  4. What inspires you and your music?
  5. Finish this sentence: “Good beats ___________.” (What does good music mean to you?)

Interview Questions (Fan Series)

  1. What has been your most memorable musical experience?
  2. Finish this sentence: “Good beats ____________.” (What does good music mean to you?)

So, those are the questions I’m planning to ask both the musicians and the fans. What do you think? Would you be interested in the answers? I wanted to keep it short and sweet, but filled with valuable, personal information. Do you have any other ideas?

Website Inspiration: A lot of my design inspiration has come from music blogs and musician websites. I researched websites of all sorts and some sites that have specifically been made with WordPress to get an idea of what I may be able to accomplish by using WordPress to build the project.

  • The Gap Theory. Honestly haven’t heard of this group, but I like the idea of having a large banner at the top of the page and then a big feature video underneath. 
  • Sigur Rós. Not only does Sigur Rós produce great music, but I love the intro video to their website. I want to do a short video that serves as an introduction to my website/attention grabber. Something quick and compelling to get people interested in the topic. I would have concert footage and maybe voice overs from various interviews (specifically the part where people finish the sentence about what good music means to them).
  • Hunger TV – Music: I like the aesthetic of laying out a collection of videos in a grid such as this. It’s visually appealing and is a simple way to display video content.
  • Sidewalk: Another group I haven’t heard of (who knew Scandinavian Hippie Rap was a genre? I really need to check it out), but I absolutely love their website. Just check it out to understand what I’m talking about. I love the video banner, I love the quote that expands, I love the simple sections broken up by color, it’s just overall great and I would love for my end product to look similar.

Based on those websites, here are some preliminary sketches of a website layout:

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As for my list of potential artists to interview, I have gathered a little over 30 names. Some are attainable for sure (like local artists), others will be a definite stretch (Ellie Goulding, Diplo, Portugal. The Man? You guys want to participate?). My initial goal is 15. If you know of any artists who would like to contribute to this project…let me know! I would love to hear from absolutely anybody.

Social Media: I plan to focus my energy on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I think those platforms will lend themselves the best to this particular project and will be the best for this type of conversation. I brainstormed some themes that would hopefully get people involved…

  • Mixtape Monday – Share your favorite playlists that you’ve made or others have made for you; why do you like it so much (shout out to my college roomies who make the best playlists that instantly remind me of how happy we were during our wild senior year)
  • New Tunes Tuesday – What songs do people need to know about?
  • Win It Wednesday – People love competitions and free stuff! Why not combine the two and have people answer a trivia question to win something (something small…I’m on a grad student budget here, people)
  • Throwback Thursday – Remember dancing around your room to “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child in middle school? Oh. Just last week?
  • Spotlight/Speakeasy Saturday? Sunday Funday?

Would those topics get you interested? Would you get involved in the conversation? Any suggestions to make it better? Let me know!

Sooooo, whew. Take a breath. My fingers are tired of typing. Carpel tunnel syndrome, here I come. That’s where I am in this project right now. I hope it sounds interesting to all of you and that you’ll be interested to see the final project when I’m done. I hope to get a lot of work done over spring break on it (along with 500 other projects) so that it will really start coming together in the final months of the spring semester. As always, I’m astonished how quickly time flies.

Can’t believe I almost forgot to mention! I went to Cat’s Cradle to see Major Lazer a week and a half ago. I was on the same stage as DIPLO. Had a minor heart attack and fell even more in love with him being in such close proximity (before I was just in love with his Twitter presence and music production). While on stage, I gave them (Major Lazer is a duo) a little flyer I put together in Photoshop to give them my contact info and asking them to help me with my project. I don’t know if they ever read it, but they at least smiled/laughed when I handed it to them a la passing love notes in elementary school. Hey, at least I tried.

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Diplo

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