By JP Davis
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Trying new things and trying to stand out is what led Nickolai Hammar to Hear Nebraska, a non-profit music and arts organization where he works as visuals editor.
Once a rookie to the cultural scene, Hammar now documents and explores Nebraska’s music and arts community.
He applied for an internship at Hear Nebraska out of curiosity.
“I felt like I didn't know anything about local music,” Hammar, 22, said during an interview at the journalism college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he is a student.
As visuals editor, Hammar uses stories, videos and photographs to promote the Nebraska music scene.
He likes that Hear Nebraska helps bring music to the under-21 crowd that can’t see bands in bars. And, it educates on the unknown regions of underground performance
“[When I was younger] I always heard about these bands that people were talking about, and I felt completely lost...I think the most important part of my job is providing an outlet that a 14 or 15-year-old me could have gone to look at, and found out about shows and bands,” he said.
Hammar, who is from Lincoln, is one of two visuals editors at Hear Nebraska. The other visuals editor, Chris Dinan, is in Omaha. The nascent non-profit has traditionally been run by interns, contributors and volunteers, but now has a small a full-time and part-time editorial staff thanks to grants and fundraising.
Hammar joined Hear Nebraska as an intern in 2013 and became visuals editor in 2015.
But, he also attends UNL, where he is majoring in journalism and nearing graduation. He has worked as the video editor and staff photographer at the Daily Nebraskan and created international multimedia pieces as a part of the Global Eyewitness photojournalism program.
At Hear Nebraska, Hammar works to expose Nebraska as a cultural destination.
“Nebraska is not a really saturated music scene,” said Hammar. “There is a lot of room for creativity for artists like Mesonjixx (a young Lincoln R&B band) that don't really have any comparable artists in Nebraska. I don’t think that there is anyone who is playing the same kind of music that they are…there is a lot of room for people to try new things and try to stand out.”
Hear Nebraska staff produce and write multimedia pieces, feature stories, artist profiles and concert reviews. Hear Nebraska also holds events and concerts centered on Nebraska music such as The Good Living Tour, a nine-date concert series in Nebraska.
Hear Nebraska’s mission is to make the state a globally-recognized cultural destination by cultivating Nebraska’s “vibrant, fertile music and arts community.”
One way to do that is with social media, which Hammar handles a lot. It's a balancing act of informing people, but not overwhelming them, he said.
“I think it is kind of annoying if you see the same posts from us on five different platforms…It’s like if someone were to call, text, email and Facebook message you, ‘Wanna hang out?’”
Hear Nebraska also acts as a cultural hub for information about shows and Hammar hopes bands turn to Hear Nebraska for exposure.
“People should understand that getting their band covered by us or getting us to premier a song or whatever is as easy as reaching out,” he said.
A huge part of Hammar’s job is to keep bands on his radar and cover new and exciting material, as well as help unnoticed acts become noticed. Hammar said he wants to show people the unique artists in Nebraska and encourage people to support them.
Hammar said, “The best possible outcome of me doing my job is a kid seeing photos or a video of a performance of a band and coming away from that thinking, ‘I want to go to that band’s show,’ or, ‘I want to start my own band because that looks … awesome.’”
A note about the content: This site showcases the final projects of University of Nebraska-Lincoln editing students. Each semester, students pick a journalist or communications professional to profile. This is their work.
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