Top 10 Tracks of 2015

It was a pretty intense year filled with a lot of transition and change. Undoubtably, the transition and change had a major impact on the music that I listened to and the artists that I discovered, versus years prior.

The creation of the list started with the most played tracks of 2015. From there, the evaluation criteria focused on tracks with a significant memory and emotion, tracks that I couldn’t stop listening to and tracks that helped define me and the last year of my life. It is important to note that some of these tracks were not released in 2015, but that doesn’t matter to me. It’s a personal list and a list that reflects the life, emotion and events of 2015.

Here we go!
10. Funk With Me – Snails, Big Gigantic
spotify:track:7uYxd23SPp7a35kVUU7GG9

9. Play With Me (Radio Mix) – Platinum Dog
spotify:track:7lBZ4c3Rn3jaCYUmPe1ygv

8. High You Are (Branchez Remix) – What So Not
spotify:track:6zpCJDhdpHPZCcFCJZDqX5

7. Revolution (Party Favor Remix) – Diplo (feat. Faustix & Imanos and Kai)
spotify:track:3V467e5wzDCUl1Dp8U9iDd

6. Dangerous (Oliver Remix) – Big Data
spotify:track:3PVukkbEGmJGoyJG2lfBPP

5. Get Free – Major Lazer (feat. Amber of Dirty Projectors)
spotify:track:42xDAj5qNVFcxciJP3hSJd

4. Ocean Drive – Duke Dumont
spotify:track:0k93MXOj0kSXo84SvSDeUz

3. No Sugar in My Coffee – Caught a Ghost
spotify:track:3eu6yCblDDyuqvDTkPZksu

2. You and Me – Bassnectar (feat. W. Darling)
spotify:track:3x94KfC5QAsqFKjUGQBH4k

1. Careful You – TV on the Radio
spotify:track:7DjtLnZKMipNZDt6SE9iEq

And if you want to subscribe to the Spotify playlist, here it is:
spotify:user:ebreakdown:playlist:32GkV6MWvfkEJMrXNu1mQK

Happy 2016!

SXSW Interactive and the Exchange of Ideas

I’m pleased to announce that I will be representing Cramer-Krasselt at SXSW Interactive 2015 and obviously, I’m super excited to attend this annual, sharing of the minds convention. Even though this is my second time attending the Interactive festival, I’m still very much eager to learn, network and see what the future of marketing may hold.

As a digital strategy director at the agency, my goal at SXSW is to not only listen and assimilate new methods of digital marketing and innovations within the category, but to exchange ideas with others in the field. Where the previous time I attended SXSW, I took on a more passive role within the festival and soaked in as much information about trends, innovation and methodologies, this year my goal is to be more active. This year, my goal is to not only obtain as much information around trends, innovations and marketing methodologies, but it’s also about sharing and conversing about contemporary approaches to digital marketing with others in the fields.

SXSW INTERACTIVE

What does this secondary goal really mean? Well, it’s less about networking and more about the conversation, debate and brainstorming new ideas. It means it’s more of an active role during the week. Yes, there is the exchange of ideas with people at the festival, but I feel as though it’s more one person speaking to a room of 30. Discourse and dialogue in-between, over coffee on the sidewalk or at a restaurant is where the ideas discussed come to life.

This is not to say that I won’t be attending any sessions, far from it. I have planned out a full calendar of sessions, and yes I’m pretty double-booked. So far, my focus of the sessions will be on new technology and consumer tech approaches to wearables, the quantified self, and the Internet of Things as well as overarching innovations in digital marketing and new ways to think about the consumer.

It is also important to note, I will be assisting in a Cramer-Krasselt led workshop on Friday, March 13th at 11am called, “How to Keep Ideas Alive After SXSW.” I know that the workshop is already sold out, but if you want to discuss the ideas and approaches from that session, I’m happy to meet up afterward to discuss how you can take all these ideas back to your organization and make them come to life.

So, with all that said, if you want to meet up and discuss what we have been learning at the sessions at SXSW, I’m all for it. If you want to meet up to discuss potential agency and client relationships, I’m all for it. Basically, I’m open to the free exchange of ideas and how that is going to move our industry forward.

I will be there for the entire SXSW Interactive portion of the conference. If you want to hit me up, feel free to reach out to me using the social SXSW portal, Twitter (@ebreakdown) or on LinkedIn. Basically, you can find me anywhere.

With that said, I look forward to the new ideas, thoughts, methods and innovations at SXSW. I look forward to meeting new and inspiring people and of course, I look forward to the parties.

See you in Austin!

Spotify and Elvis: How To Create Innovative Digital Experiences

In honor of his would be 80th birthday, Spotify (the king of online music experience) created two applications that celebrate Elvis’ influence on music.

The first application, The Elvis Influence allows a user to type in their favorite (or any) band or artist to see how they have been influenced by Elvis. The best way to describe this experience is that it’s the Six Degrees of Elvis. The application backtracks the influence of each artist to Elvis himself. Additionally, the application allows a user to listen to the whole timeline or the individual artists.

The second application, The Elvisualization, is an interactive infographic which details the influence of Elvis overtime. Very similar to a “bloodline” if you will, it illustrates how Elvis influenced every artist after him all the way to contemporary times, across many different genres. In addition to illustrating the influence, the interactive graphic is dynamic allowing a user to click on any artist listed for a preview of their sound.

http://static.echonest.com/insights/elvis/index.html

Beyond Elvis being awesome, why should we care about these two applications from Spotify? Well, Spotify has historically been fantastic at leveraging their content, their assets and their library/database for enhanced user experiences than just streaming music. They are offering users more context, the ability to explore new content and share that content with others.

  • Innovating with Existing Product: Every brand or company has a product or service. However, what helps make good marketers is finding ways to innovate using that existing product and share that innovation to the customer. Yes, it is easier said than done with some clients and Spotify is unique in the fact that they have music as their product. Yet, the music isn’t their product, their database is and they are very smart with that database and consumption/tagging data that comes along with it. If you really think about it, Spotify didn’t create the Elvis apps because they have Elvis music, they created the apps because they have access to influence metrics and consumption of music stemming from Elvis’s music. That level of innovation and thinking, beyond simply what product does a brand have and how do we market the product, can create extraordinary experiences for consumers and the industry.
  • Moving Beyond the App: Yes, Spotify has a mobile application as their main source of product consumption, but they also have a web version too. Spotify has been good with creating experiences that don’t necessarily rely upon a platform, but experiences that rely upon their API and database. You don’t have to download the Elvis apps and you don’t need to be a member of Spotify to listen to the music. Don’t always design for the platform, design for the experience.
  • Consumer Value through Context: Spotify is a content consumption and curation experience. The brand has been very good with adding context to that equation as well. Music is very personal and selective, it makes sense for a brand like Spotify to hone in on that and create experiences that allow for the user to create their own experience.

Spotify is not only an amazing company offering a service to users that directly taps into passion points, they also, and one could argue changed consumer behavior from a purchase model to a streaming/leasing model of content. Because of that success in the industry and the access to content and consumption, it allows them to be on the forefront in digital marketing.

Want more? Take a look at these recent experiences Spotify has offered their consumers:

My Top 20 Tracks of 2014

This year was a great year of music exploration for me. I listened to a variety of new genres, artists and tracks that I normally wouldn’t. This isn’t to say that I stopped listening to EDM or alternative music, I just expanded my music consumption a bit.

Last year I created a list of my Top Albums of 2013, that were released in 2013. This year, I’m taking a different approach. This year, I am providing a list of Top 20 Tracks that I listened to on an ongoing basis, tracks that I love, tracks that helped define 2014 and tracks that I couldn’t “put down.” Now, I want to caveat this by saying this is a list of my personal Top Tracks of 2014; they were not necessarily created in 2014, nor were they top tracks by the amount of times I listened to them, they simply helped define the last year for me.

So, here we go, as promised, my Top 20 Tracks of 2014!

20. I Just Wanna Love U (Jean Tonique Remix) – Jay Z featuring Pharrell
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19. Do It Again – Röyksopp & Robyn
[spotify id=”spotify:track:4y8XhpQ7YqFLyz2o7c7r7X” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
18. Flipmode – Mt. Eden
[spotify id=”spotify:track:4Y9e0rBUg3ZTnA8c9tHu9u” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
17. Love Is All I Got (Feed Me’s Matilda Remix) – Feed Me featuring Crystal Fighters
[spotify id=”spotify:track:3vjO5aLXmVqTCVntVOtMY4″ width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
16. Made to Love – John Legend
[spotify id=”spotify:track:1G2Ya2ubnlS7xFfs1CfY3j” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
15. Prayer in C – Lilly Wood and the Prick (Robin Schulz Remix)
[spotify id=”spotify:track:3k9FFXVPn3ua8dlpkxlCvZ” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
14. A Pain That I’m Used To (Jacques Lu Cont Remix) – Depeche Mode
[spotify id=”spotify:track:4nkXTcOSYGnMhaHSg6LsfK” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
13. Big Talk – Conway
[spotify id=”spotify:track:25zni6gEnbrX40IWa3xKVp” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
12. Million Voices – Otto Knows
[spotify id=”spotify:track:2nIDPOUOprhe14XoCK6gxw” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
11. Fading Nights – Parra for Cuva (Original Mix)
[spotify id=”spotify:track:6euRvhoyzVtjdKohdL78QH” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
10. Fade Out Lines – The Avener
[spotify id=”spotify:track:3VjFTsWQLvOVr2oJ4PMyjC” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
9. Allein – Pryda
[spotify id=”spotify:track:3LLq1sGvqXgv26VZbicu5i” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
8. All of Me – John Legend
[spotify id=”spotify:track:3U4isOIWM3VvDubwSI3y7a” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
7. Pushing On – Oliver $ and Jimi Jules
[spotify id=”spotify:track:00lopN8UjPU58scvfgjSPK” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
6. Under Control – Calvin Harris
[spotify id=”spotify:track:4J7CKHCF3mdL4diUsmW8lq” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
5. Radioactive – Imagine Dragons featuring Kendrick Lamar
[spotify id=”spotify:track:69yfbpvmkIaB10msnKT7Q5″ width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
4. Til Sunrise (Pairanoid Remix) – Goldroom
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/170052247″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

3. Rage the Night Away – Steve Aoki featuring Waka Flocka Flame
[spotify id=”spotify:track:0Ev2T20215s50FusZoHCBk” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
2. Ritual Union – Little Dragon
[spotify id=”spotify:track:40wDuyifkj27ahVCpfJWq5″ width=”300″ height=”380″ /]

And my Top Track of 2014…
1. Dare You – Hardwell
[spotify id=”spotify:track:3GNHC4hmpOpcFnVhtoHfhS” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]

Not only is this a killer track and Hardwell is probably the top EDM artist of the year, but this is the track I heard on approach into Sky Harbor and will forever remind me of my move to Phoenix.

Announcement: I’m Relocating to Phoenix

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After living in Chicago for the last four years and the midwest for my entire life, I’m moving on, I’m moving to Phoenix! It goes without saying that this is a pretty large life-changing event. That being said, I look at it as a new adventure, a new chapter to experience. Not to mention, I’m pretty tired of the Chicago Winters; man, this last one was brutal.

The love of my life is in Phoenix (she truly is the love of my life) as is a great, professional opportunity. I have accepted a position at a national advertising agency in Phoenix. These guys (which you will find out later who they are) are rockstars and are very passionate about the work. The passion that I’m talking about is the same passion that I always seek and have been a part of. I have had the opportunity, no, the honor to work with very talented and passionate people everywhere in Chicago and it will be difficult to let them go. However, this is a chance for me to open up a new chapter in my life; one with the woman I love, a chapter of new professional and digital opportunities at the agency, and a new chapter to grow digital in new forms, new clients and new work.

As I look back at my life in Chicago, I look back with a smile on my face. Chicago is the home of advertising, the home of marketing; if anyone says different (I’m looking at you NYC), they’re wrong. Chicago has taught me so much and has made me grow into digital professional I am today. The memories I have of this town, will always stay with me; especially the people. Everyone (too many to name), has made a significant impact on who I am, how I view the world, how I work and how I see the future. As I look back at my life in Chicago, I look back with a tear in my eye. I know that the experiences I have had here will always stay with me. The memories, the people and the moments have shaped me and have helped make me the person who I am today. It is sad to leave you all, leave the city that I have grown to love. However, with an end should come a new beginning; a new chapter.

Now, I can’t forget about Milwaukee… my alma mater. I keep thinking, “how did I get here?” And I know it’s because of Milwaukee. I have nothing but fond memories of Milwaukee and it will always have a special place in my heart. After all, it is the town where I met Stephanie. Milwaukee, as most of the Midwest, kept me pragmatic, humble and driven. It brought me up to the person I am today, with, what I hope, a strong moral code, work ethic and great friends that will never leave. I leave the Midwest thinking that Milwaukee was my hometown.

As I look forward, I see a bright future. A future of amazing possibilities, both personally and professionally. It is a future of exploration and adventure. I’m moving West. It’s Manifest Destiny. It is the American way. I see myself as a pioneer of sorts. I see this next stage as opportunity to start anew. I see this as what I want, need and have to do. Don’t think of it as me moving across the country, think of it as I’m only 2 hours behind.

In closing, I leave you with this. A close friend of mine once told me, “When you stop looking up at your city, that’s the moment you need to leave.” I believe that to be true and I’m ready to look up at Phoenix.

PS> You can follow my journey by following the #CHI2PHX hashtag on social media. (Yes, I had to make a hashtag for this)

Top Albums of 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, I want to share with you my favorite albums of the year. Now, there are a lot of “Top Album” lists out there with many different conditions. Let me first outline how I came to this list and what factors I used to determine my Top Album list.

  • Year: The albums must have been released in 2013.
  • Album: It’s about the entire album, not just individual tracks.
  • Consumption: I must have listened to the entire album many times during the course of the year.

Like I mentioned before, there are many lists like this. I haven’t aligned my choice to any lists by the critics or industry blogs, nor have I even looked at them. I wanted to make sure this list was what I listened to; my personal list.

Well, let’s get going! Here’s my, personal, Top Albums of 2013! (In Order)

Justice – Access All Arenas
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I’m a huge fan of EDM and particularly Justice. It is a live album and at times I find those types of albums annoying, but this one has fantastic rhythm throughout and a great musical story. Plus, there’s a great Jay Z drop in the middle of D.A.N.C.E.
Spotify Link

Pretty Lights – A Color Map of the Sun (Deluxe Edition)
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I find most of the previous Pretty Lights albums as average, however this album was off the charts! I love the band accompaniment and story telling within the Deluxe Version. Not to mention, his concert this year was one of the best concerts I’ve seen.
Spotify Link

London Grammar – If You Wait
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These guys are relatively new to the scene from England. I first heard them on the Annie Nightingale show earlier in the year; their guest mix blew me away and I couldn’t wait for their freshmen release. It’s a bit slower and a bit more lyrical than most of what I listened to this year, but still amazing. I just wish I purchased tickets in time to see them when they were in Chicago.
Spotify Link

Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
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Boards of Canada, what more can you say? One of the most anticipated albums of the year, in my book. Epic story, outstanding execution; I can listen to this album over and over again. Additionally, beyond the album, the music videos complement the music perfectly.
Spotify Link

Flume – Flume (Deluxe Edition)
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Another great find of mine from the BBC. It all started when I first heard “Holdin On,” his first single from the self-titled album. Somewhat atmospheric with a hint of EDM, this album is perfect for music during a house party or informal gathering. I just hope he comes to the States to tour soon.
Spotify Link

Man Without Country – RMX
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In all honesty, I don’t know much about these guys, but the album is a chill mixture of music and is ideal to start off your day.
Spotify Link

Kavinsky – OutRun
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I’m pretty sure most people know his music from the movie “Drive” starting Ryan Gosling. Beyond that, I really dig his album release this year, not because of Ryan Gosling, but because all of his music reminds me of the good old days of 1980’s music.
Spotify Link

Pet Shop Boys – Electric
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It was a surprise to me that they released an album this year, but once Eric told me about it, I was blown away. Surprisingly, PSB went far into dance music in this release. Epic beats make me want to just stand up and dance!
Spotify Link

Well, that’s my list. I welcome any feedback and other suggestions on albums I may have missed this year. I’ve provided some Spotify links to the albums so if you want to listen yourself, they’re just a click away.

Also, I’m pretty sure Kanye is going to be pissed with me.

Recap and Design Trends from NeoCon 2013

NeoCon_2013

Well, after months of waiting for this year’s NeoCon, the day finally came and I naturally geeked out with all the design I found within the walls of the Merch. Floors upon floors of designer furniture, materials, artwork and the masses of people from all over the world. NeoCon is kind of difficult to navigate not only because of the the sheer size of the Merchandise Mart and all the floors, but because of the people. However, that is only secondary to the amazing display of furniture and new designs.

NeoCon is truly a designer’s heaven. Regardless of your profession; graphic designer, industrial designer, buyer, showroom attendant, painter or photographer, there is something there for everyone. There are literally about 6 floors of exhibition space inside one of the world’s largest buildings. Some floors feature well-respected and established retailers such as Herman Miller, Knoll and KI. Other floors in the show feature some lesser-known retailers from all around the world including Europe, Japan, and South America. Beyond those retailers, you have B2B suppliers that focus on products such as lighting, flooring, veneer, handles, etc. All in all, there is something for everyone at this show and I’m so lucky to have gone this year (especially for free)!

Coming out of the show, I realize there are some trends moving from 2013 into 2014 in the industrial design world. There are definitely 5 major trends and one behavior trend I noticed.

Trends:
NeoCon Felt

    Felt: This one is huge! I saw this material everywhere in the show. Felt, brightly colored felt, was being used on everything from flooring to chairs to room dividers. Not sure if this is a response to the price of cotton in the world, but either way, manufacturers are putting it to great use in some unconventional areas.

NeoCon Molded Chair

    Molded Plastic: If your chair is not covered in felt or wool, it most likely will be made of molded plastic or molded wood veneer. It is so nice to see the come back of molded design, Saarinen and Eames style. If we can start designing furniture like that again, I will be a happy man.

High Back Furniture

    High-Back Furniture: I did see a lot of high-back chairs last year at the show, but this year it seems as though everyone has a high-back chair model. Most of the high-back chairs were angled at about a 110º angle. I’m thinking, and this is just my opinion, is that high-back chairs are meant to signal affluence and high-style. If that is the case, then I guess I’m out of style. Call me crazy, but I love lower, horizontal, and rectangular furniture.

Secluded Work Area

    Seclusion/Private Collaborative Work Areas: Again, this trend was big a few years ago at NeoCon and it’s not going away. Most of every retailer had some sort of seclusionary, collaborative workspace (some of them made of felt). It appears that this design is in response to companies who are looking for open-air working areas. Long gone are the days of the cube and the conference room.

Bright Color Furniture

    Bright Colors: I’m not sure if this is just for the show, to gain attention; but most of the retailers had their furniture in bright, almost neon-like colors. I’m sure the brighter the colors, the happier the person using them; but come on, neon-yellow is just way too bright for most people. Just give me the chair in black and I can use it in any environment.
    People Looking for Alcohol: Granted I did arrive mid-afternoon to the show, but it seemed as though people were on the prowl for alcohol; looking for the next open bar within a retailer environment. Yes, I’ve been to trade shows before, many different kinds; but I have never seen this level of excitement or anticipation for alcohol. I’m sure it was a long day for most people there, but come on people, this is Chicago, we have plenty of bars.

    Other Trends: If it’s not organic in design (chairs), it’s very angular – no middle ground. Also, the use of hardened-foam in chairs and benches. I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the coming years.

The “Value” of Super Bowl Advertisements

Even though Super Bowls can be a bit of a let down, advertisers and brands swarm to get spots for the Super Bowl. Case in point, all of the Super Bowl ad spots were sold out before Thanksgiving this year. This is mainly due to brands wanting to get in front of one of the largest audiences to view television programs. It is predicted this year there will be 100 million people watching the Super Bowl; and at a price tag of $3.5 million dollars for a 30 second spot, it may seem like a deal. However, I’m not sure that the brands truly recognize the value of the spots or the return they may, or may not get from them.

>> Read more at Experience Matters…

Son of Erik Mixtape Release: Bitmap

A digital mosaic of beats.

I have provided a link for you (at the bottom of this post) to download the mixtape. (If you would like it split into tracks, let me know, and I’ll provide.)

Download Bitmap Here

Or, you can listen to Bitmap here:

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/33485130″ params=”show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=ff00b5″ width=”100%” height=”81″ ]

These mixes are not intended for sale or reproduction. Son of Erik does not and will not receive any proceeds from the production of these mixes. Please respect the copyright of the original artists that have been listed.