Hannah Donovan

Post Archive

I design music products for the web & speak about it.
Want to chat? Get in touch: han[at]hannahdonovan.com

Find me on:
Twitter
Lanyrd
Flickr
Last.fm

My Jam:

18
Mar
permalink
3
Feb
permalink
29
Jan
permalink

Making 2013 Jams (under the sea)

My captain’s log entry over on the making of Jam Odyssey over on the This Is My Jam blog:

thisismyjam:

image

Over the new year and throughout January we’ve had tons of people create their 2013 Jam Odysseys. We received many nice emails too; our favourites included “Fuck! I’m Awesome”, “Thank you so much I love you”, and “such a lovely way to get a flavour of your year”.

So, we thought you might like a peek behind the scenes. Here’s how a labour-of-love project like this goes down at the Jam Factory:

Read More

31
Dec
permalink

Thanks for all the sounds, 2013

The year is nearly over! Here’s a Spotify playlist of what 2013 sounded like to me. If you don’t have Spotify, you can get a taste of a lot of these tracks from my 2013 Jam Odyssey too.

I’ve never done a round up of music from the year before (I know!) This is mainly because I crate dig and listen to a ton of old music too, so restricting myself to just one year doesn’t feel completely representative of my taste. This December, though, I challenged myself to compile a list of new (as in newly released) sounds that helped define the shape of the year for me. (Also, I was basically on deadline all December, so oh hai procrastination). 

If I could, this playlist would include almost every track off Beyoncé’s self-titled album, which was the most exciting and unexpected thing to happen for me musically this year. I’ve had it on repeat since it came out; there are so many good tracks, but I think my favourite is ***Flawless, with Ghost/Haunted as an extremely close second. Since December was so mental, so I didn’t get to sit down and watch all the videos until the Xmas break – which I got to do with my sister Sophie – one of the best moments of spending the holidays together. I love hearing her dancer’s perspective on these things.

Other highlights from the year that strongly influenced this playlist were seeing Killer Mike, Solange and Jessie Ware perform at Primavera in Barcelona; going to a small and amazing Homeboy Sandman gig in Berlin during the summer, then later getting to have a lovely conversation with him in New York; seeing the Roger Limb (the pianist from the house jazz band at my favourite pub, the Wenlock Arms) perform with his BBC Radiophonic Worskhop mates at Rough Trade East; and right before the year finished, seeing Oddisee and his incredible band, Good Company, live in London.

Thanks to all the artists who made 2013 more beautiful with their music, and the people in my life who introduced me to it.

6
Nov
permalink


The video from my JSConf talk was recently released, so here it is! If you want to watch it with the slides, you can get those here.

This was one of the most challenging but rewarding talks I’ve given because it begins with a very personal story that up until recently, about five people knew. Telling a story like that on stage is hard because you feel so damn vulnerable doing it. To add to this, I somehow managed to give my most non-technical talk at the most technical conference I’ve attended (good job Hannah!) which was a little intimidating. I feel strongly about delivering this message to the development community, but… because I’d never seen it done before I had no idea how it was going to go over, and the audience was a little different to what I’m used to. I was prepared for the very real possibility that it could be a tough crowd to speak to, let alone be vulnerable in front of.

So that was the challenge part.

The reward part was that I had nothing to be afraid of. I got more positive feedback after giving this talk than I’ve ever had at a conference. Really. People love stories. More importantly, I had some great conversations with attendees who approached me to share their stories and not only did I learn a lot, I feel like I really got to know some people that day. That’s pretty cool for conference drinks chit-chat. Finally, the JS community is one of the most warm and welcoming communities I’ve experienced. From the moment I walked into the (huge!) venue, I felt comfortable with the those cats.

Stuff I learned:

  1. If you have a personal story you want to tell, but haven’t because you’re scared shitless for the reasons I just mentioned – do it anyway. It’s much easier than you think it is. People have a lot of love for personal stories; they feel connected and enlightened. Kinda what we go to conferences for in the first place ;-)

  2. Be prepared for people to share their stories if you share yours. Obvious, but I totally wasn’t prepared for this. After I finish a talk I’m totally high on adrenaline and very ready for a cold beer; an hour later I come to my senses and realise I’m drained of every milligram of energy I once contained and want to curl up in a dark hotel room and not talk to anyone. At this conference, the oh-shit-I-can-barely-form-sentences-all-of-a-sudden feeling was compounded by the fact that I’d also barely slept all week. (I’m not proud of that, and I normally would never do that the week of a performance, but that week was an extreme set of circumstances). If I gave a talk like this again, I’d mentally and physically prepare myself for saving some energy reserves for post-performance conversations. Because they were really good!

  3. This advice goes for any talk, but is even more important in the context of sharing mentally taxing material: manage people’s expectations so they know what ride they’re about to go on and how long it’s going to be, keep it short, and have pauses: People have patience and empathy, but a limited supply of each (especially after a long day at a conference). Pepper your more difficult/emotional material with some comic relief so it’s not too agh-group-therapy. (Or if you’re like me and not clever-haha-jokes-funny, then give people a hungover owl break or or something). When you’re asking people to take in difficult material, they need a few breaks. (I was recently at a conference where I heard someone share a personal story and she didn’t do these things, and it was really tough going. I had to go into the hall for a breather halfway through because I couldn’t take an hour of unrelenting emotional storytelling).

  4. Lastly, since you’re asking a favour of people to listen to your story, make it pay off for them. The reward (the takeaways from the talk) should be stronger because of the story. Maybe the story lends credibility/authenticity; maybe it helps demystify a complex concept; whatever. Just make sure the story is in service of the talk, and the talk isn’t in service of the story. There’s a place for those (and if you have one to tell, you should write it!) but I don’t think that belongs at a conference where people pay hard-earned euros to become better at their craft.
13
May
permalink
21
Mar
permalink

What Do You Carry?

My tools/portable set-up are featured on What Do You Carry? today – a neat project from Janine Toro showcasing what designers carry around with them on a regular basis.

I’ve carefully collected and refined my tools over the years, making sure not to carry more than I absolutely have to. What do you carry around?

Read More

1
Mar
permalink

New YouTube Jam Images

Another look behind the scenes at the Jam Factory. How we deal with low-quality YouTube thumbnails…

thisismyjam:

As part of our recent work around making your music look awesome, we’ve also updated how YouTube jam images look.

The challenge with making your music look great is that most of the time we’re starting with very low-quality source imagery. Similar to how apps like Instagram originally were hailed for turning crappy mobile phone pics into something with style, we’ve been trying to solve for this with music.

Read More

26
Feb
permalink

How We Built “Music Looks Awesome” & How You Can Join In

A write-up by Andreas and myself about how we created the new This Is My Jam backgrounds:

thisismyjam:

For those interested in the design and tech behind our “Music Looks Awesome” release, this is a follow-up post to our announcement about the new jam backgrounds.

Read More

22
Feb
permalink
thisismyjam:

It was the night before the launch of our new backgrounds, and with the old ‘circle’ default images about to be retired, we realised we needed new default images. And quick!
Not wanting to use something that looked obviously placeholder-y or bare, I quickly whipped these up. Based on old 45s (one great song at a time, remind you of anything?), these appear in the rare cases when we can’t dynamically find an image for your jam. 
We thought they were kinda fun and that you might too. Enjoy, and happy Friday!
- Han (& Team Jam)

thisismyjam:

It was the night before the launch of our new backgrounds, and with the old ‘circle’ default images about to be retired, we realised we needed new default images. And quick!

Not wanting to use something that looked obviously placeholder-y or bare, I quickly whipped these up. Based on old 45s (one great song at a time, remind you of anything?), these appear in the rare cases when we can’t dynamically find an image for your jam. 

We thought they were kinda fun and that you might too. Enjoy, and happy Friday!

- Han (& Team Jam)