Spotify + Starbucks = Smart Move…Ramble

The streaming game has been hearing up the last five years, turning a once geeky, slow connectivity and often frustrating early adapters experience into the preferred way to consume new music.

Jay-Z may have a point about artist payments, but the way he launched his own service, TIDAL, (in partnership with labels) has left a sour taste in the air of greed. I read his autobiography. He had a tough childhood, he’s been part of the one percent longer at this point….

We don’t look anything alike, you may be wearing a Yankee’s cap, but you owned part of a sports team, a management company, you party on yachts and hang out with PPP culture’s A-listers. I don’t feel bad for you, you have Beyonce on your arm. But back to the point.

Taylor Swift is in a unique position to sway younger listeners getting their feet wet with streaming, but does she need her own service with another select group of artists that range from hipster cool main streamers to super wealthy? Doubtful. Too many factions and artists cutting out will lead to fans getting the raw end of the deal or turning, once again, to piracy, which is what streaming in general, was developed to stop.

That’s where a business, in this case Spotify, has to look at their roadmap and reassess what is going to make them maintain their audience, and provide the next step of enhancement. What will make their content more compelling than the same kind of exclusives other content sites provide? They are going to add video, that’s great but that game is heating up with competitors, so where can they go next, where competitors are not? Spotify’s new relationship with Starbucks brings together the U.S.’s other daily need – the one for caffeine.

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I’d much rather have baristas involved in Spotify DJ’ing and talking about music, with an added bonus of coffee perks, then the disastrous race relations program, #racetogether. This new relationship is forward thinking and beneficial to both brands. I say yes to Starbucks trying out new products, especially now they serve flat whites and cold brew.

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This is not the first partnership to expand Spotify’s cool brand offline experience. Their parnership with Uber has my man tortured while I play DJ. It’s a mobile party in the U.K. Smart branding all round and making the streaming experience communal.

Congrats Spotify, now can we please expand the deal to Europe so this premium streamer can get in on it? Cheers.

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The Power of Three…Ramble

The past month many of us in the music tech and tech world lost three truly great men- John Loscalzo (MTV, CBS Radio & much more), Dave Goldberg (Survey Monkey, co-founder of Launch which became Yahoo! Music) and Michael Deputato (Universal.)

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When John passed I was speechless. My dear friend Courtney Smith called to tell me the news. John was her boss at MTV and her current role at CBS Radio. My brain could not take in what she was saying. John and I were not only colleagues at MTV Networks, we were neighbors. He owned the local news source, BrooklynHeightsBlog.com and we had only been in touch on a local issue the day prior.

John was a quirky guy with an offbeat sense of humor, who loved his wife Traci Zamot and daughter, Gracie with such joy, it couldn’t help but make you smile to see them together. He was only 51. He liked to scheme, to take part in local politics and he always did it with a tremendous grin on his face. Walking down the streets of the neighborhood after his passing, you can feel John noticing things to report on, delight in and rally in the air. A truly great human who is very much missed.

Then, last week, another friend sent me a Viber message asking if I had heard about Dave Goldberg’s sudden death. My first reaction was to curse, not very ladylike, but it was another blow. When I worked at Yahoo!, I loved to see Dave in action. There was one meeting, the first working day of the year, I’ll never forget. Dave was fired up in a good way. He wanted to counteract a bad contract. The head of legal shook his head – he had put in many months of work with his team and said the ink was still drying on the signatures. Dave was not happy with the terms and asked me for my support.

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It was a deal that effected the programming of the website for years afterward – and Dave was right in his stance. He didn’t need my support, he could’ve, like so many other powerful men, simply dictated for me to carry out his orders. He was a great leader who knew how to inspire and be real.

Between his fire and beliefs in what he did at work, and his big heart- Dave handed out roses to everyone on Valentine’s Day and hosted amazing annual Super Bowl parties with his wife, Sheryl Sandberg at their home in the Palisades, Dave never let anyone feel like he wasn’t interested in what they had to say, and a true example of people who are truly successful championing other people.

It was on Facebook that another smart and wonderful fellow, Jon Vanhala, broke the news of a lovely man, and long time colleague, Michael Deputato succumbed to brain cancer this past Saturday. I remember calling Michael when Spotify first launched in the U.S. to ask his advice about naming conventions. The account was handled by sales, but the only way to make a daily impact is to create playlists, which tapped into my music programming experience.

Michael-Deputato

While Michael and I discussed the account he asked me how many people were on my digital team. I’ll never forget his shock to find out I was a one person team with ten dotted-line reports, wok ring the active roster. After that Michael would call me to check in on me- and give me a bit of a sanity check. What a good man he was, as were Loscalzo and Dave Goldberg.

What I learned from these men is to pursue your passions, make time and notice people who need your help – most of all do something, so watch life from the sidelines.

Twitter Tips…Ramble

Here are some of my tips for Twitter:

1. Experiment: the more people you follow, the more interesting the experience.

2. It’s okay to unfollow people. Often people are recommended blindly, or because they are an ‘expert’ in real life. That often doesn’t translate to the content of their tweets being interesting or appealing.

3. Avoid the hard sell. Twitter is like spam, don’t expect that important messages are going to be seen. Use a hashtag and you can post again, but space it out – the hard sell approach is  turn-off.

4. You don’t have to reply to everyone. If there’s a controversial issue, you can address it privately, especially with a friend through direct messaging or completely offline. Have you ever been convinced to change your mind, merely because someone approached you aggressively? Use the ‘mute’ button.

5. Take a social media break. Not every thought has to be posted.

6. Save confessional posts for apps like Whisper, Secret and Yik Yak.

7. Click on who your influencers follow, it may lead you to great accounts.

8. Hashtags -all good things in moderation.

9. Stay on brand – decide what you will and will not post about, and stick to it.  (see 4 & 5 above.) If you are a relationship ‘expert’ tweeting about how miserable you are about a break-up hurts your brand. Politics? Religion?

10. Enjoy the surprises, like Taye Diggs following you.

Why Helen Fielding HAD to Kill Mark Darcy/Colin Firth/Mr. Darcy…Ramble

Fourteen years have gone by since there’s been a new installment of Bridget Jones’. Well, then is it any wonder to gush like crazy over the return of chick lit’s leading lady and her creator? If there wasn’t a Bridget, there might not be a Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and The City) or an Andy Sachs (The Devil Wears Prada) or countless other great books that made us laugh, cry, relate and let us know, we’re not strange creatures from outer space if we are singletons.

Mad About A Boy

Recently spoilers were printed in the UK that quickly made the rounds to the US media. Helen Fielding had killed MARK DARCY! When Helen was asked by Vogue’s Valerie Steiker, culture editor last night at Housingworks Book Store, if she expected the swift reaction via Twitter from fans, she said no. She didn’t expect to be sitting at home in her pj’s like Bridget, watching the telly, and seeing updates about Syria, then the next story saying “HELEN FIELDING KILLED MARK DARCY!” She didn’t expect a man to run out of a restaurant she had just left yelling at her “You murdered Colin Firth!” right after the news broke. When I asked one of my friends to come to the event she said “Bitch killed Mark Darcy, she is dead to me.”

The hard part was having to tell Colin Firth. After all, the BBC version of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice”, of which Colin played the most memorable Mr. Darcy, inspired Fielding’s character Mark Darcy. For Ms. Fielding, Colin/Mr. Darcy/Mark Darcy is a hybrid creature and she cannot separate them. She wanted to tell him about the character’s end in person but, their schedules were so conflicting she had to tell him over the phone. She said it was like a death, she asked him if he had someone there with him.

However, Colin/Darcy/Mark Darcy did not disappoint. How very British of this clever man to take it in good stride, and announce that it was a fictional character and no one had actually died. So, as a fan, when I heard the spoiler I was quite upset. However, as a writer, we are constantly told to kill our darlings, throw thunderbolts at our characters to shake them up, to challenge them and create conflict and new goals. For Ms. Fielding, Mark Darcy is a gentleman. He would never leave Bridget and their two children, so he had to die. “It’s far better that he dies and lives on in memory untarnished, like Jesus. He’d never be a fuckwit.” Indeed would you want to read a book about a happy marriage? We love Bridget for her struggles, for her self-doubt, for her bumbling through social situations and love.

Colin/Mr.Darcy/MarkDarcy

Colin/Mr.Darcy/MarkDarcy

Fielding said the way in which dating has changed now with social media, is the amount of things that can be silent and have to be interpreted.

Fielding has often be thought to be Bridget. She created Bridget as a means to write columns so she could keep her own life private. There are, of course, many similarities. She admitted she is overly ambitious in the kitchen and the blue string incident did happen to her. Her friends know she is usually going to overreach in that area and takeout will be ordered. Fielding is now divorced, a mother of two and living in London and in her 50’s. Bridget Jones is a widow, 51, and a mother of two living in London trying to sort out social media and modern dating. I can just say Poor Bridget! Let the comedy ensue.

When the Q&A was opened up to the audience I asked Helen if there was anything she had wished from the book had made it into the films and vice versa (oh self brag moment: Fielding said “That is a very good question” – oh yes, I have professionally interviewed people but a compliment from Helen/Bridget –for now she is a hybrid of those two personas for me–is quite amazing). Ms. Fielding answered yes and sometimes things get confusing. There were things she wanted to put into “Bridget Jones: Mad About A Boy” but had happened in a previous book or film. One thing she would have loved to have in the films was Bridget Jones interviewing Colin Firth the actor. (Note: if you own the 2nd film there is an outtake of exactly that but I didn’t bring that up since she seemed a bit tired from a full day of press). So, in actual real life, Helen met up with Colin Firth in Rome where she was Bridget Jones for the night out with Mark Darcy! And, they’ve also had phone conversations where Colin Firth is Mr. Darcy.

Indeed Helen Fielding is so charming and so humble when it comes to the success of Bridget. Ten minutes into the event, she admitted she was quite relieved and happy with it since she stressed about the VOGUE part of the evening – dressing up for it, accessorizing properly and wearing hard-to-walk-in-heels. I love that she removed those uncomfortable heels and let us all just have them sit there and admire them. Hurrah for Helen/Bridge.

Helen Fielding Sans Heels

Helen Fielding Sans Heels

Helen spoke about how men and woman just communicate differently. Bridget’s motto is KOB = keep buggering on & of course, she does. Women will go out, have some drinks and have a laugh about their problems. Whereas, (Fielding kept saying she is not a sociologist), a male friend went out with another man who was getting a divorce after twenty years. She asked him afterwards why the couple is getting divorced and her friend responded he didn’t know, they talked football all night.

When asked what she would be if not a writer, she replied a doctor. She said if anyone wasn’t feeling well she would be quite happy to assist them. Oddly enough, five minutes later the last “question” was really more a drawn out statement, when a woman three chairs down from me began moaning. If you were on the subway, you just move away from that kind of insane moaning, we’re New Yorkers, we used to it. However, this poor elderly woman who had come on her own was slumped over, unconscious in a bookstore! Guests and Fielding sprang into action. The fire department came and took the woman to a hospital. I want to say, as relieved as we all were she regained consciousness, thank you to you Ms. Moaner. You saved us from a seemingly, unending, pointless statement that was taking down the whole event and instead, gave us a chance to see Helen-Bridget as doctor in action.

The best question from Vogue was, if this book becomes a film, will Mark Darcy be present in flashbacks. Fielding said he would be well represented and that she’d like to be part of the casting! Oh ah.

Finally, it was lovely to have a bit of chat with Helen during the book signing afterwards. I was very happy I got to discuss the “Chick Lit” genre which so many in publishing “eschew” , which is the tone and genre I write in and Helen was surprised and told me to keep on going with it. The great thing is I got to inform her that Mad About A Boy is #1 in the Fiction Satire genre on Amazon. She was so happy. I love when you get a few moments with someone you admire, for whatever reason, and they are made happy by something you said to them. Thank you Helen-Bridget. I am glad you wrote another installment and shocked Britain by writing about a woman in her 50’s- gasp, dating!

Having a laugh with Helen

Having a laugh with Helen

Keep Writing & LOVE chick lit! Helen Fielding

Keep Writing & LOVE chick lit! Helen Fielding

Brand of the Week: Warby Parker…Ramble

Brands are a part of our lives. I enjoy exploring new brands, which pop up almost on an hourly basis, so I decided to take that inspiration and start this feature.

A few weeks ago I was watching a friend’s foster (now officially adopted!) dog while she was out of town. I had a late night and put my glasses on the coffee table. No sooner had I closed my eyes for a moment, when I heard the crunch. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was five. I knew that crunch was the lens of my all-time favorite glasses (Phillip Lim!) being destroyed.

I used to sell glasses in high school. I know when they are bound for the trash, but against all odds, I took them to my optometrist. I even passed Usher on the way and he smiled at my beloved Elle. I took that as a good sign. Alas, not even the radiant glow of Usher’s smile, could work magic on saving my glasses. Thus, a search began for a new pair of glasses. My prescription was outdated as is my health insurance. (Yes, I hear you all scolding me. Hire me, if you care so much cheeky monkeys!)

I went to the Brooklyn Flea Market. There were some great frames there, but alas, no eye doctor. Lenscrafters wanted more cash than my pricey optometrist for an exam. I was exploring all different options. Then I received the weekly newsletter from GOOP with a very good reminder — Warby Parker! I made an appointment. They do have walk-ins, but you may have to wait a while.

Some cool facts about Warby Parker:
1) The company was started by friends who asked the question: why do glasses cost so much? 2) WP will send you FIVE pairs of frames to try on and you have five days to pop them back in the mail – with or without your prescription.
3) There is a photobooth in the store so you can show off your new specs online. Sharing is caring! It also helps if you are by yourself and want to see how they look on your face or get other opinions.
4) Exams are only $50 bucks. They do not test for contact lenses.
5) For every pair of glasses sold, Warby Parker donates a pair to someone in need!

6) You can have the glasses sent directly to your home (of course, I knew I would need adjustments so I had them sent to the store).

There are some limitations, but keeping the above cool facts in mind, you can easily overlook them:
1) You cannot order tints, but if you have a thick prescription you can still get the ultra thin lenses (as I did).
2) While there is a good selection of cool looking frames, there is a limit. Not every style is going to fit you. The salespeople are there to help!
3) It will take 7-10 days to get your order onto your face. You are a style maverick and glasses are something you wear every day, so what’s the rush?

I went to the store and I’m glad I did. Who doesn’t love a flagship? I had looked at frames obsessively online and thought I knew exactly what would work for me. I even took a bunch of selfies since I am blind without my contact lenses (which I didn’t want to wear to the eye doctor). I have lost a significant amount of weight since the last time I purchased glasses and my face has changed. All the frames I am normally drawn too, were far too large for my face. Luckily, Warby Parker has a really helpful staff.

Dressed in a newsboy cap, suspenders and sweet kicks, the salesman who assisted me at 121 Greene Street, was able to combine my personal taste (bold!) with a frame that would best hold my (horrible) prescription. It was a pair I never would have selected, but in the end I could not be happier. It was thinner than I was used to, however there are a pops of blue I just adore. When I picked them up the other day, I exclaimed with relief “they look good!” as I took another selfie in the store. The customer next to me agreed. Meow, say hello to my new glasses.
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I even wore them out of the store to dinner at the fabulous Hudson Clearwater and caught the eye of a tall drink of trouble (who was on a date with someone else!) Sorry honey, but guys do make passes at girls wearing Warby Parker glasses!

Thanks to the Warby Parker team for a great experience.

 

 

Exactly on Target…Ramble

I get to go to my fair share of conferences. Panels and open discussion forums can quickly digress into personal agendas (see Bandwidth Conference, but perhaps the music industry just isn’t mature enough to progress but only rehash because it can’t get out of it’s won way).

This week I flew out to Indiana for the first time for the Exact Target (that’s a two word title folks, no affliation with Target retail stores but that is part of my story too), a back-end hub for email, web and marketing intiatives online. This conference was so well organized, they had buses waiting for participants to take us to the hotel. Registration took all of two minutes.

I was a little bummed to realize the conference was starting the same day as Target’s Missioni sale, but fortunately I had just enough time to order a few pieces online before I left for the airport- although the net being slow at the time, I’m super bummed I didn’t scoop up a few more of the homeware pieces. I think this is the first time they have launched one of the designer collections on a week day ultimately leading to the Target servers crashing. I digress… here are some of my personal highlights from the Exact Target conference:

1. Starting with keynotes the focus of the conference was the Power of One (also a really great book of that same title by Bryce Courtney is one you might want to check out darlings!). I believe in the power of one. One person can make a difference and there’s nothing that makes that easier than the Internet and it’s tools.

2. Keynote speaker Jimmy Wales founder of Wikipedia talking about the collective “ones” who make up the world’s free encyclopedia. Wales broke down his contributors are 86% male, somewhat due to the complicated code needed to update parts of the site. This isn’t a sexist statement because as I’ve referred to in the past, females enrolling and graduating with engineering degrees are down since lower than the were in the 70’s. Wales gave further insight saying their’s is an authoritative website and there’s nothing man like to do more than talk authoritatively about subjects they no nothing about 🙂

3. Everyone is a winner! My coworker and I both won $5 bucks and $5 dollar Starbucks Gift Certificates. There were notes each night as motivation in our hotel rooms along with treats and even the baseball field next to the hotel was branded with “Exact Target.” Free goodies were plentiful wherever you looked.

4. I attended a panel with someone from NASA. Seriously if that is not the coolest social media job ever than you need to rethink your American Dream. 🙂

5. Katy Perry in concert was part of the conference. Seriously. Now Katy can write a great hook and some really catchy tunes, but Katy could you stop with the gross-out humor and writing for a soprano when you are an alto? I share that same fate and honey, nothing is sexier than hitting the right notes.

6. Meeting an English Bullie named Blue. Turns out Blue is the mascot for Butler University. When I was informed of that fact I recalled watching something on TV about him. Celebrity Mascots. Love it! Blue was asked to sit, instead, shiny waxed floor had him spralled out on his belly on his attempt.

7. Being amongst digital people who want to improve from all sorts of backgrounds. My people!

8. I went on stage for an award. You know I can’t miss a photo op!

Overall I would say this was my favorite conference this year- sorry SX you totally jumped the shark a few years ago for me and now I just endure you.