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Trust Issues 003 – 12 Favorites from 2012

Nick Woods

The third installment of our Trust Issues mix series is a look back on 2012′s best music. We asked 12 of our favorite artists what their favorite albums were, and then asked them to pick their favorite song off that album – You can find out more about them and their choices, right here. Nonbox’s own Steve Comeau compiled the songs, and the result is a great soundtrack to close out a fantastic year. Download your copy just by Liking our Facebook page, and pick up a free wallpaper for your phone at the same time.

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If it ain’t broke…

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

As a designer, I tend to focus more on the aesthetics of applications, programs, and operating systems than functionality. So take what I have to say with a grain of salt, but my experience with iTunes 11 over the last week has certainly been a frustrating one so far. Where did the intuitive interface go? And what is this over-thought time wasting impostor that’s replaced it? What happened to the iPod search feature? Has album art really taken a back seat to cover flow? Because it’s disappeared from the bottom-left corner of the screen. And that handy feature that enabled easy duplicate track cleanup? Gone! That’s just the tip of the iceberg – Have a look at a few more of the critical features Apple saw fit to dump.

My takeaway is that if it ain’t broke, don’t break it just so you have a reason to fix it. Apple seems to have changed iTunes for the sake of making a change – A complete redesign certainly wasn’t needed. You can get iTunes 10.7 back here, luckily. But hurry: there’s no telling when Apple will decide to take this down.

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Trust Issues 002

Nick Woods

I took a crack at putting together Nonbox’s second Trust Issues mix, mainly to see how quickly I could find 30 minutes of ‘F’-word-less music I actually enjoyed that my coworkers would like. There are a few classics here – I’m a huge fan of ELO, and “My World Is Empty Without You” is my favorite Supremes song – but hopefully there are at least a few tracks here you haven’t heard before. You can download the whole mix, along with artwork and a matching iPhone wallpaper just by liking our Facebook page.

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Trust Issues 001

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

As a creative, most of my life and well-being depends on trust. I trust instinct, intuition, my eyes, and my ability to seek out inspiration. The worst thing a writer, musician, or artist can do for their career is living in a bubble, because keeping ourselves from going stale is important.

It’s in that spirit that Nonbox presents Trust Issues – A series of music mixes, curated by our agency to help you stay inspired, and in-tune with what we’re listening to. You can download mine today, and all it’ll cost you is a Like on our Facebook page.

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BitTorrent’s plan to keep media free

Nick Woods

If you’re the type of person (shame on you!) who likes to steal their TV, movies and music off the internet, you probably have at least a passing familiarity with BitTorrent, whose file-sharing protocol is today’s gold standard for digital media piracy. But it’s not like the company is looking to cut and run: Earlier this week it began offering ‘free download bundles’ in an effort to help artists “monetize the BitTorrent ecosystem.” BitTorrent plans on pairing bands and filmmakers with sponsors, whereby free media off the network will also come with an optional sponsored content download. For example, exclusive music from DJ Shadow now available from BitTorrent comes with an optional RealPlayer install – The music stays free, and Real pays the artist a royalty every time its software is installed. It’s branded content that gives the auteur more flexibility. The question here is whether the advertisers are going to be able to create content that people actually want. Slate.com, for example, asks a good question: Who do you know that actually uses RealPlayer?

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Winning the Battle of the Bands

BJ Bueno

What do you call a brand that has enjoyed long-term success, remaining profitable and vibrant for over 30 years, while the vast majority of their early competition struggles for relevancy?

In the music world, you’d call that brand Duran Duran. Get ready for your 80′s flashback! We’re going to talk about what it takes to create enduring customer loyalty. READ MORE

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Gtar

Nick Woods

I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 years old, and I can still remember what it was like sitting down on my Mom’s piano bench and learning how to play the opening notes from “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica. It’s still my favorite thing to do. (Playing guitar in general that is. Not listening to Metallica. St. Anger ruined the latter for me.)

That’s why I really like Gtar, which has gotten a whole lot of hype over the last few months as a kind of hybrid between Guitar Hero and the real deal. You plug your iPhone into the instrument itself, and the app paired with the instrument shows you how to play your favorite songs in real time. And for people who are more adept, the instrument lets you tab out songs with the aid of a built-in MIDI interface. Its already raised nearly $300,000 in a Kickstarter campaign, so if you’re interested, it might be worth picking up the early bird special.

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Greetings from Glasgow!

Nick Woods

If anyone reading has a chance to visit the UK, make sure a good chunk of your trip is spent in Scotland – Nothing here but sheep, rolling green hills, and awesome people. I still have a couple weeks left before I’m back, so we hope you enjoy a series of guest posts from the UW-Madison Ad Club. Cheers!”

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The Other Side of the Pond

Nick Woods

To use one of the lamest catch phrases in existence, “I work to feed my family, but I play to feed my soul.” Typing that sentence out makes me groan, but it’s pretty true – Social media is what puts food on my own table, but if Napster had never existed, I like to fantasize that I’d be making my living playing guitar. About a year back, the band I play in was offered the opportunity to tour mainland Europe and the UK – And the people I work with were kind enough to let me indulge that fantasy. Over the next three weeks, things here are going to be a bit different, and you’ll get to hear from some other people with different ideas and perspectives than my own. I’ll be sure to check in on Monday, just to assure you I’m getting over the jet lag. And if you feel like following along, Instagram is a great way – I’m at @getpumped. Talk to you all soon!

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Coke <3 Spotify

Nick Woods

Coca-Cola pushes out a lot of advertising. You have to, when you’re already the world’s most valuable brand, looking to double $35 billion in annual revenue by 2020. And while the company has never been shy about trying creative new approaches with its marketing programs, its new partnership with Spotify, announced this morning, is a no-brainer.

Coke’s 2013 campaign “Year of Music” will feature Spotify as its centerpiece, integrating the service into the brand’s Facebook timeline, and access codes on packaging, and outdoor and TV ads. It’s all an effort to piggyback on the success the company has seen using music to market to teenagers. And with 13 million users and counting, Spotify is quickly becoming the standard for delivery. If the world’s largest soft drink manufacturer is picking up on that value, how long until the rest of the world does? Music is powerful. And providing it is a great way to make a brand powerful too.

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5 Things better than 2 Pac’s Hologram

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

Everyone’s talking about 2-Pac’s hologram appearance at Coachella. And while I’d bet it was a bit more impressive live, like I’ve read, the fact remains 2-Pac is DEAD. Also, while it was a cool collective moment to reflect on his contribution to music and wonder “what if” taking this act on tour wouldn’t be THE REAL THING and to me wouldn’t mean as much to witness. Here are five things that are better:

  1. Advanced hologram technology in Japan that lets completely fabricated artists sell out arenas.
  2. Photoshop is a pretty complex and handy tool. This guy decided to throw a Holiday Party and “invite” all of his celebrity friends.
  3. Alejandro Chaskielberg has taken some absolutely gorgeous images of a community in the Turkana region of northwest Kenya at night.
  4. A great web based studio lightning simulator to help save you some time.
  5. World-class synths in your pocket.
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Does SXSW still matter?

Nick Woods

For the last few years, I’ve had an on-off debate with a bunch of my friends over whether its worth it for unsigned, no-name musicians to play SXSW anymore. I take the hard-lined, “of course not” side of the argument, part of a growing faction of people who’ve realized that every year at the conference, there’s a few thousand more people, a few dozen new/useless social networks, and a few more marquee performances from musicians that have too much money behind them to afford exposure for those that don’t. It’s easy to spot those trends, which makes it easier to say the conference doesn’t matter anymore.

But as Mat Honan at Gizmodo pointed out this morning, despite the suffocating amount of advertising, pitching, hawking, and hyping, Austin still pumps out new buzz every March. Let’s not forget that Twitter and Foursquare were both born at SXSW, after all. Perhaps it’s easier to look at Southby as a business conference now, rather than an intimate gathering of music lovers. As an entertainer, it’s a melancholic transformation. But as a marketer, it’s still worth keeping on the radar if only because it’s fun to try and spot the needle in the haystack.

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A lesson from Disney & Joy Division

Nick Woods

“Joy Division has a ‘cult’ following” is an understatement akin to “Aaron Rodgers is a competent quarterback.” The band’s influence on pop culture has spanned decades, inspiring artists ranging from U2 to Interpol, by anchoring a sound that Allmusic argues “pointed ahead to the rise of melancholy alternative music in the ’80s.” That acclaim, coupled with the early death of singer Ian Curtis after only two albums, has made the band a near-mythic entity.

The iconic cover of Joy Division’s 1979 debut, Unknown Pleasures, is possibly the most recognizable image associated with the group – Which was why Disney tried to piggyback on it with a shirt it put on the market last week, before enacting a swift recall in response to outcry from fans. It wasn’t an illegal move – the artwork was a public domain image pulled from an astronomy textbook – but it certainly shows how borrowing from one brand’s goodwill to supplement your own can be a risky maneuver. Remember: Creation is often a more rewarding move than curation. (Unless, of course, the flop is memorialized on eBay.)

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Tubalr

Nick Woods

Say what you want about Spotify’s music library, but I’m inclined to argue YouTube has a bigger volume of songs – That’s just what happens when anyone can submit anything they want. Trouble is, obviously, YouTube was designed for video, not music. Even though you can probably find all of the songs on most any album you’re looking for on the site, plus live versions and B-sides, what good is it when you have to search for and hit play on a new song every time the last one ends?

Tubalr, a music search engine developed by 23-year-old software developer Cody Stewart aims to fix that issue. Type a song or an artist in the site’s search bar, and it automatically populates a playlist that advances automatically. You can even share those playlists with Twitter and Facebook. It isn’t the smartest tool – a search for “Pink Floyd” will mean listening to “Wish You Were Here” and “Time” twice each in the first 10 songs – but it definitely makes the site a lot more usable as a radio. Check it out!

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Pandora jumps in Top 10 U.S. radio markets

Nick Woods

Earlier this week, Pandora posted its November listening stats with users streaming over 2.1 billion total hours with the service in Q3 2011. That’s big news for a company that has seen its competition stiffen considerably over the last year with Spotify’s introduction, in addition to services like Last.fm. And while Pandora claims 66 percent of the internet radio market with 40 million active users, making it the clear leader in that space, the real story here is that among adults 18-34 in the top ten U.S. radio markets, Pandora’s weekly cumulative audience surpassed 19.9 percent in each of those survey areas over the past few months. It’s just another example of how people will continue to consume media in 2012 – Through their phones and tablets over the Web, rather than analog radio and antennae through traditional broadcast.

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Trip To Paradise

Jon Grider

Radio Paradise is a real trip, with no loss of frequent flyer miles (or brain cells). It’s a streaming internet radio station, with the best eclectic mix I’ve heard from one source. Mostly tasty, interesting rock, but all genres are represented. Everything is DJ mixed, so there is a logic and flow – unlike random computer mixes. And it’s totally commercial-free. Not that I don’t fancy a good radio spot, but I’d rather wait for the Mercury Awards reel. Radio Paradise is financially supported through donations on their site – hopefully for many moons and tunes to come. A husband/wife team out of Paradise, California runs the station, which has been around for about a decade. Their site has playlist details and the ability for interactivity – through welcomed comments, forums, journals and contests. Welcome to paradise.

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The Evolution Of The Music Industry

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

While visiting the Fast Company website I stumbled upon an animated pie chart that, let them tell it, “illustrates the music industry’s death.” While I don’t believe it illustrates that as much as it does it’s evolution, I do feel it illustrates the death of “big record label thinking.” It’s time for artists and musicians to get creative with promoting, marketing, distributing and selling their music. With the advent of sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud it’s easier than ever. I can’t wait to see how big labels adapt to the constantly changing landscape. These are exciting times.

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Watch The Throne

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

Listening to and reading all of the critique of the new Jay-Z & Kanye West album Watch The Throne has been very interesting and exciting. To me, any great body of work sparks passionate and sometimes heated debate. It also begs for a side to be selected, rarely do you experience gray area. People either fall in love or detest. Questlove, of the Legendary Roots Crew, wrote an “Official Unofficial Review” which is the best piece of commentary I’ve read on the album so far.

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Beastie Boys Action Figures

Billy Cannestra

80′s Flashback… You know you’ve completed all your goals in life when they make you into an action figure.

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Jay-Z Interview: Gwyneth Paltrow

DeChazier Stokes–Johnson

Short, sweet, and to the point is how I would describe the interview Jay-Z conducted with Gwyneth Paltrow as well as the one Gwyneth conducted with Jay. You can view both here and here.

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Gaga As Role Model?

BJ Bueno

Do business leaders have a lesson to learn from Lady Gaga? At first glance, it might not appear so, but that’s until you learn that the 25 year old singer is well on her way to earning over $100 million in 2011. Forbes Magazine recently ran a piece detailing Gaga’s multiple revenue streams. Praised for being as shrewd and decisive as she is fashion-forward and creative, Lady Gaga has done some things exceptionally well. There’s wisdom in her approach that can be emulated by business leaders across the board. Besides, she’s a snappy dresser. READ MORE