From time to time, I’ll be compiling lists of online accounts that might be useful to JAMS students. Knowing full well that everyone’s a hardworking (but nevertheless broke) college student, I’m going to stick to accounts that are free. Like a lot of other tech sites, I’ll give a little summation what you can do with these accounts. But in addition to that, I’ll also try to address how these accounts can benefit you as JAMS students in particular.
So, without further adieu, here’s the first of what will undoubtedly be many installments of Get That Account.
While sites like Bandcamp offer musicians the ability to organize average-length songs into tracks and albums, SoundCloud approaches audio in more of an overall space kind of way. After singing up, you’re prompted with an Upload button and a reminder that you have two hours of space to fill. Everything else is basically up to you. There’s no area for cover art. You won’t find any boxes for lyrics. There’s only your audio, its waveform and the player it lives in. Send it to people as a link, or embed it into your WordPress.com site (yes, you can actually do that using SoundCloud.) It doesn’t matter if you’ve recorded something like a 90-minute Norwegian DJ mix or a long-form audio story á la This American Life. With SoundCloud, audio’s just a matter of time.
Until relatively recently, if you produced a feature-length film on your own, you had basically two ways to show it off: convince your local independent movie theater to let you screen it on a weeknight, or max out all of your credit cards on DVD duplication (and packaging, shrink wrapping, etc.) Either way, that final step of the process was probably one of the toughest to take.
Vimeo offers users the ability to upload high-quality video in a positive and supportive environment. Unlike YouTube, there is no time limit on the video content you upload. If your video is 500 MBs or less, you can upload it for free. So, with some creative compression, you can put your entire feature-length film on Vimeo without breaking a sweat.
Dribble is an elite online community for graphic designers and the like. Users sign up for one of the two types of Dribble accounts: Scout and Prospect. Scout accounts are for people hoping to find designer talent. Prospect accounts are for people hoping to be that talent. You sign up, give Dribble a little bit of information about yourself, and then hope one of the current members will notice you and nominate you to be a Prospect. After becoming a Prospect, you can upload your graphic design work and Scouts can peruse it.
Given that most artistic-types were usually among the last picked for teams in gym class, waiting months on end to be a chosen as a Prospect on Dribble will probably seem like a walk in the park to most graphic designers.
PRX (Public Radio Exchange)
PRX is to modern journalists what Myspace once was to musicians. It’s an audio-centric online community where members list their skills and interests, network with each other and post recorded material. Most posted audio pieces are similar to broadcast Public Radio shows in form and duration. With a little luck and a lot of perseverance, a member’s audio piece can even be discovered by an affiliate and picked up for wider distribution. To sweeten the deal, members can also be paid for their work.
On my PRX profile, I’ve listed that I’m available for Field Recording, Music Recording and Sound Editing (among other things.) If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m really not concise enough to be a journalist. I’m more of a sprawling stream of consciousness kind of guy. Still, it would be cool to one day work on something similar to Joe Frank’s In the Dark or some other weird, zigzagging narrative sort of thing.
I can dream, can’t I?
Yes, you know about Google. You also know that there are Google Accounts. You also know a Google Account has something to do with Gmail, Google+ and Google Chat. The question is: have you taken five minutes out of your day to actually set up a Google Account? You haven’t? What’s with the delay? Are you waiting for someone to snatch up your preferred username so they can use it to post picture after picture of everyone they know doing Jello shots?
In addition Gmail, Google+ and Google Chat, a Google Account comes with plenty of other handy tools. Google Drive lets you upload, store and share large files (sort of like PantherFile or Dropbox.) Google Docs gives you the ability to collaborate with others on those shared documents. Google Calendar lets you pretend you’ve organized your life in some way. If all of that isn’t enough, a Google Account is also a YouTube account (and vice versa—see below.)
You probably already know everything there is to know YouTube, but there are a few additional ways you can use it to your advantage. If you need a place to host a SoundSlides slide show (and you don’t want to pay 12 dollars a year for the SoundSlides hosting service), you can convert it to a .mp4 and upload it YouTube. Granted, you will loose some SoundSlides functionality (like Captions, Credits and the ability to navigate to a particular slide.) However, given the fact that WordPress.com doesn’t allow direct embeds of SoundSlides code, hosting your slide show on YouTube serves as a clever workaround to that problem. (In other words, you can make your SoundSlides presentation into a YouTube movie and then Copy and Paste it into WordPress.com.)
As an added bonus, if you create a YouTube account, you’ll automatically have a Google Account (and vice versa—see above.)
Like a gigantic thumb drive floating around on the Internet, Dropbox let’s you upload files for storage and sharing in a “cloud” format. Users can do this via a browser interface, or through the desktop client. Uploading files is similar to adding an attachment to an email or clicking and dragging folders to an external hard drive. Provided the person with whom you’d like to share files also has a Dropbox account, getting those files to them is simply a matter of Control (or right)-clicking a folder and then selecting “Share This Folder.”