It’s weird that I saw two big shows this week, since my weekly average for seeing things with tickets is about 1 every 16 weeks. I kinda dig it. Also there were no better shows than these for me and my mood. Thanks, pop music and Prince and Ellie and Maya.

Ellie Goulding

Whew. I’ve been all up in the video making lately that the text post quality on this blog has really gone down. Part of me regrets that, part of me is proud of posting videos so regularly so…eh. But TEXT! Let’s WRITE!

So…I spent the week in New Mexico for my cousin’s wedding. It was beautiful…all of it. My cousin, the wedding, and New Mexico. We had some rain but desert rain is different in that it doesn’t ever last long and it SMELLS SO GOOD after it deluges in New Mexico that you feel cleaner just for sniffing it. As I drove back East toward Texas I was kind of bumming out. It’s been raining here to the point of some flooding in Houston and as I crossed over West Texas into the middle part it got cloudy and grey. My mood fit the clouds, I was tired of driving, and I wasn’t really relieved to be back at all.


To top it off I bought a ticket to see Ellie Goulding about 5 months ago, not knowing I’d be in New Mexico that weekend for a wedding. So I drive from San Angelo to San Marcos on Tuesday, and Ellie was performing that night waaaay up in North Austin. It might as well have been Oklahoma according to my mood. I toyed with the idea of staying home because I was sick of being in a car, but I like Ellie and I love pop music and SUCK IT UP, JANA.

I’m glad I did. Ellie Goulding was amazing.

As I sat in my seat I was REALLY glad I didn’t bail because I didn’t realize what a good seat I had. I was directly off the stage area up in the first row of real seats (all the young kids and their general admission standing…that’s not for short people). So no one was in front of me, and I was about 15 feet from the stage. I could see facial expressions without looking at the giant video screen. SCORE.

Bebe Rexha

Bebe Rexha opened, who I have heard of but wasn’t totally educated on. 3 songs in she drops this little “I’m going to do some songs I wrote but didn’t record because I’m a songwriter first,” truth bomb, and proceeds to sing:

The Monster – she wrote the part Rihanna sings on Eminem’s track
Hey Mama – she wrote it and David Guetta and Nicki Minaj topped the charts with it
Me, Myself, and I – G-Eazy and Bebe are currently number 1 with it
No Broken Hearts – Bebe’s own single with Nicki Minaj

So that was some pop star power right there for a 30 minute opening act. Bebe is going to be big, I think. And her songwriting cred is already huge.

Years & Years from the UK was the 2nd opening act, and they entertained though I wasn’t familiar with their stuff previously. I am a fan.

Ellie Goulding

And then…ELLIE. As she progressed through her 1 hour 40 minute set, I kept thinking, “I LOVE THIS SONG!” over and over again. The amount of earworm hits she has is impressive. I’m also an album buyer, so I knew many of the “deep cuts” she sang…because they’re just as catchy. Ellie could release anything off her last 3 records and it’d probably be a hit.

Ellie Goulding

I took a lot of photos and some videos, because I like to document. Hilariously, before she launched into my favorite Ellie song (“Burn”), she lectured us all about seeing phones instead of faces the whole show, and asked us all to put them down for godssakes and just be in the moment. So I did. It was lovely. I also kept my phone in my pocket for “Love Me Like You Do” which was another mega-hit and the encore. Until I snuck one last photo of the glitter, because…ALL THE GLITTER.

Ellie Goulding

Lesson learned: whilst I live in the “Live Music Capital of the World” – sometimes I gotta prod myself to go see it. And often times it’s the big arena shows that light me up, and NO SHAME. Bring all the international pop hits to me, please.

In which I pull off the side of a highway in the middle of nowhere and walk into an old church. Good for the circulation to get out of the car on a long drive. Also, New Mexico is glorious.

It’s good to have friends. It’s great to have handy friends that will build stuff so you can make cooler videos. Our journey through Lowe’s and Home Depot this weekend. Thank you, Katie!!

I’ll put up a more detailed instructional video soon, but this is how you build a DIY overhead camera rig for your tabletop or desk.

Also it’s the first whole vlog filmed on the new Canon G7 X. WOW.

You gotta hustle and flow to get a good deal and…you gotta hustle to get T-Swift tickets for F1. Well, I do. You don’t have to.

Sorry, 7th grade teacher guy. It look 20 years, but it happened.

Here’s a little bit o’ video about trying out Virtual Reality (VR) for the first time at SXSW. It was all over the conference this year – the topic of panels, the highlight of the trade show, and new gear announced to film it and support it. VR is here, and it’s going to start changing our media experience on a consumer level soon.

You can do this with a smart phone and a cardboard headset (or a more advanced one). Google Cardboard is cheap and simple to use. Check it out here. Samsung has a VR headset that does amazing things for $100. Stick your phone in. Enjoy a new form of media/entertainment/education/who knows what.

The wrap up to our SXSW adventure with deep thoughts about stuff and Kerry Washington. Not bad not bad!

SXSW 2016: Day 5

17 Mar

The last day of Interactive. You kinda fight a sense of relief because your brain is so saturated with ideas and talks and smart people that you kind of need a break, but you are sad because do you really have to wait all year for SXSWi to come around again and be inspired? (No, but it’s definitely one of the big awesome places to be inspired).

Creating A Movement: SoulCycle

What better way to start the morning of the last day than to sit down with your Starbucks spinach feta egg white wrap and listen to the founders of Soul Cycle talk about how they built their brand?


It was more interesting than I anticipated. I LIKED them, but I was basing my initial impression about them on some snarky Gawker articles about SoulCycle being a cult, so…extra surprise. They started SoulCycle because they hated to exercise (natch) and were working in real estate and as a talent agent. They focus a lot on branding and experience, and the thing that really impressed me is they do not want to franchise, because they’re control freaks. So often a brand will franchise and then you never know what you’ll get as it grows and other people are in charge of customer experience but don’t have to follow all “the rules.” I like that they refuse. If I had a successful something that could franchise out and make me filthy rich, I don’t think I’d do it either.

“How Streaming Has Changed Listening”

This panel converged over the tech and the music part of the conference. Nothing totally shocking here and – NEWS ALERT: no one knows what to do about the new music industry – but some good stats. One of the panelists was from Bandcamp and he stated that on their service, CD sales (the disc kind) had actually gone up by 10% last year. And vinyl sales were up 40% (what up, hipsters!). People still do want physical product. Ultimately, the streaming world means more access to music for fans (good) and decreased revenue for musicians still (bad).


Zach Anner: The Art of Starting From Nothing

I had no idea who Zach was when I went to this panel, I just saw that he was a Youtuber and it was across the hall from the previous panel (laziness counts!). I was so glad I chose this one…Zach turned out to be one of the highlights of the conference for me. Check out his Youtube channel here. He played a lot of clips from his videos and explained how he started (basically, you just START). He also reiterated there should be no obstacle in your way if you want to create. It’s true. The tools to do film are dirt cheap at this point and so is editing software. Check out his amazing Workout Wednesday series (my favorite is here) and dive in. Truly a great inspiration.

Brian Solis – The Future of Brand, Tech & Business is Experience

The last panel. It was PACKED. I was hot. I couldn’t take one more note, but I was glad to just sit and listen. Brian is a guru whose latest book “explores the intersection of where business meets design to create engaging and meaningful experiences.” Sweet. Truthfully I had heard the terms “experience,” “personalization,” and “authenticity” so many times this week I was not sure I could comprehend them anymore, but that’s another blog post.

We wrapped it up with pancakes at Kerbey Lane and I spent yesterday sitting in silence thinking about things. And messing with the Google Cardboard VR headset, but that’s for a vlog post.

There is truly nothing better for my brain than immersing it in a conference like this…hearing people talk about topics I am working directly with, or even better – stumbling on a topic I know nothing about and having my mind blown. SXSW always offers a good balance of both. Now to start synthesizing. I think I need some sunlight for that.

Oh and I found Amy (who is actually working this conference and dealing with these crowds!) and we got free hats. Blue steel duck face.


SXSW 2016: Day 4

15 Mar

We ate the Blistered one.

Monday…a fresh start anywhere, even at SXSW. After the Sunday slump you rally a little and are starting to feel the nagging “only 2 days left of Interacticve…only 2 days to pump my mind so full of inspiration I’ll run on dreams and starlight for the next 6 months.” No pressure, really.

Flail or Fail: Marketing to Fandom

This was a panel of geeks and I loved it. Understand…there is being a fan of something and then there is being IN the fandom of something. Level 2 includes activites like joining online communities for the thing you’re a fan of, communicating with other fans, creating fan art for your fandom if you are so inclined…it’s a way more active way to be a fan. Things like fanfiction are a level of fandom that allows the fan to re-write or add to the “canon” (the accepted truth of the storylines as written by the official show writers). Marketing to these types of fans means you should listen to them, be authentic with them, and know they’ll see right through you if you marketing unauthentically to them. Using the right platorms to reach your fandom is essential…don’t use Twitter if your fandom is on Tumblr. That sort of thing. Yay geeks!

New Indie Frontier: DIY TV

This panel was a little bit slow for me as it wasn’t really about DIY TV series at all, but more about how you need a lot of money to produce something so high quality you have a chance of having it picked up by a major distributor like Netflix. Sigh. Fun fact though: 75% of videos streamed online every day are 15 minutes or less, so content can be short form and episodic and keep an audience. We’ve broken from the weekly half hour sitcom mode finally.

Then I went to a panel about how musician unions get musicians paid but it focused on people playing on Hollywood movie scores and that’s fine but not applicable so I wandered the trade show and picked up free swag.

Livestreaming Is Bigger Than You Realize

Omg, guys. Have you heard of YouNow? I hadn’t. It’s a livestreaming app that actually allows you to monetize your streaming. Streaming apps like Meerkat (which no longer does streaming) and Periscope have busted out at SXSW before, and while I’d argue there’s no real “it” app this year, this one seems interesting. On panelist was Zach Clayton, a 15 year old who has amassed a 700,000 subscribership on YouNow and broadcasts for an hour a day to 7000-10000 people on average. People tip him. He makes thousands a month. Other services like Twitch allow gamers to livestream them playing a video game, and thousands of people watch. (Zzz). I feel like this is the Wild West of the internet.


12 Inevitable Tech Forces That Will Change Our Future – Kevin Kelly

I love panels like this. Granted, the title is misleading…Kevin Kelly is releasing a BOOK with all 12, but he only went over 3 forces. But they were good. AI is going to change is massively in the next few decades…and not in the “thinking robots will kill us all and take over” way, but in a more helpful, benign way (according to Kelly). AI thinks differently than a human…so it can learn to do “productivity” based jobs that humans have to do now. Kelly maintains in 100 years we’ll be stymied about how people in the past used to do jobs that are obviously robot jobs. The jobs that will replace these are…not invented yet. This pie in the sky thought always makes me pause but he did point out…think about our largely agrarian society in the early 1900’s. If you would tell them that by 2016, only 1% of our U.S. population will be farmers, they would ask…”what does everyone do, then?” And we’d say things like “programmer, coder, fitness instructor, social media manager.” And it wouldn’t make sense. So think about 100 or even 50 years into our future…we have no idea what’s coming folks. And the robots will help us. The other 2 forces Kelly talked about were Virtuality and Tracking, which I could yammer on but I’ll just link to his website. Fascinating.

Thus ended my day…VR is really a thing, guys. Try some goggles. More on that in another blog post.