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Austin means music, tacos, and innovative new ideas (AKA “weird”), and our SXW2O events definitely incorporate all of these. But when it comes to great local music in particular, our Austin office employees are passionate fans. To make the perfect local playlist, we asked these local music experts to curate their favorite tracks from Austin artists.

spotifyCheck out the Geekaque playlist on Spotify here.

 

We’re also beyond excited about our 2016 SXW2O artists (some local, all awesome) we’ve lined up for our events:

  • At our annual PreCommerce Summit Reception, we were lucky enough to hear some mellow tunes from The Autumn Defense, a side project for WILCO band members Pat Sansone and John Stirratt. Thanks to our premier sponsor Bayer for bringing them down to Austin!
  • Texas’s “original recession era string band” Hot Nut Riveters provided some Southern Hospitality at our Digital Brunch, led by Guy Forsyth.
  • We’re especially excited for tonight’s Geekacue lineup featuring Black Pistol Fire and Red Bull Select band Not in the Face, both of which cnall Austin home. Email info@w2ogroup.com for an invitation!
  •  lionelLionel Menchaca – Director, Corporate & Strategy
    Artist: Willie Nelson, Song: Whiskey River
  • How long have you lived in Austin? Hard to believe, but I’ve been here just over 25 years.
  • What is your role at W2O? I work with our team to help clients implement digital tools in everything from internal communication and collaboration, external communication and issues management, and how to empower employees through advocacy programs.
  • Why did you pick this song/artist for our playlist? It’s Willie. He’s a Texas legend who calls Austin home. I chose that song because it’s the one that makes me think of Willie more than any other. There’s a reason why he uses it to start the set of his live shows.
  • #WhyAustin? So many reasons. The great live music scene, the cool outdoor options, great events like SXSW, Austin City Limits Music Festival, the food: Franklin, La Barbecue, Fonda San Miguel to name a few favorites, and the people.
  • Favorite Taco: Hard to list a favorite, but Taco Deli is my go to place for tacos. Hard to go wrong there.

darron

Darron Davis – Art Director
Artist: Shapes Have Fangs, Song: Dinner in the Dark

  • How long have you lived in Austin? 9 years
  • Why did you pick this song/artist for our playlist?: This album reminds me of the time I volunteered for SXSW in 2010. I saw them play at a tiny venue on Red River called Beerland. They were insanely loud and enjoyable.
  • #WhyAustin? Austin is a progressive city where you can still carry a pocket knife without getting side-eyed.
  • Favorite Taco: The Smoked Brisket Taco at Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ

angieAngie Gette, Senior Director Strategy & Insights
Artist: Wood & Wire, Song: Anne Marie

  • How long have you lived in Austin?: 8.5 years
  • Why did you pick this song/artist for our playlist?: Tons of energy and pure folk spirit.  Love seeing this band live. Check them out!
  • Favorite Taco: Migas from Veracruz- can’t believe how good they are!

colleenColleen Hartman, Group Director, Social Commerce
Artist: Tameca Jones, Song: Hot and Bothered

  • #WhyAustin? For me personally? As a child, I spent a lot of time each summer with my grandparents in Dallas. They took me all over Texas and loved the unique culture. After living many places in my adult life including a stop in Waco home to Baylor University, my family unanimously wanted to move to Austin. As a then W2O client, when the opportunity came to join the agency, I was thrilled especially with the opportunity to move to Austin. The rest is history with my new “forever hometown.”
  • Favorite Taco: The steak taco from Veracruz All Natural’s food truck. It’s hard to eat other tacos once you’ve had anything from Austin’s best taco spot. (Migas and fish tacos are amazing too.)                                                                                                                    

bob pearson___
Bob Pearson, President, W2O Group
Artist: Black Pistol Fire,  Song:  Suffocation Blues

  • How long have you lived in Austin? We’ve lived here for ten years. I told my daughters when we moved here that when we reached ten years, we could start to call ourselves Texans.  In our case, we say we’re “Jersey Texans”, a rare breed.
  • What is your role at W2O? I spend most of my time with clients discussing what is important to their business or working with our teams to talk through how we build or refine our models. The role is President, W2O Group. My mission is to ensure our clients build unique advantage and succeed and our team members at W2O learn and grow professionally every day.
  • Why did you pick this song/artist for our playlist? Black Pistol Fire is symbolic of Austin. Originally from Toronto, now splitting time between Canada and Austin.  Austin just has a magnetic draw for innovators to head down here and never leave.  And, I love rock ‘n roll and these guys know how to have some fun.
  • #WhyAustin? I came here to work at Dell and our family fell in love with Austin. I love how supportive the community is of each other, whether you are an entrepreneur or you have fallen on hard times.  Austin is a city with a soul.
  • Favorite Taco: There is a small stand one block from our office behind a building that has amazing breakfast tacos. Few know it is there. Small stand. One woman who runs it. Amazing tacos and the hottest sauces around.

We recently sat down to speak with Millennials working for W2O Group in London to think about what is different between Europe and the US.

It is fascinating to both of us to figure out why we have slight differences in our behavior.  Here’s seven examples of how we’re different.

#1 – What’s App is the Choice of a Diverse Region – in a region of 50+ countries, you have a wide variety of telecom providers, phone choices, different cultures and a much earlier embrace of open source software for mobile phones. Android is normal and widespread in the EU. What’s App works across iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Android and Nokia.  The ability to work across many software platforms, has become far more important for EU Millennials.  Unlike the iPhone obsessed US, where iMessage is king.

#2 – When a Channel is Local and Trust is an Important Factor, Pay Attention – our careers are pretty important to us.  We want the information just right and we care who sees our information.  Back in 2006, Xing was formed by entrepreneurs in Hamburg, Germany.  Today, Xing is preferred vs. LinkedIn in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, all German-speaking countries.  We believe this will be a trend worldwide in the years ahead.  The more personal the information, the higher the likelihood of local channel success.

#3 – Not all Channels Resonate – Germany, Sweden and Twitter don’t mix well.  Sweden and Pinterest are not a match.  Not sure why.  It just isn’t something people like as much.

#4 – The Common Choices are ClearSnapchat is big for EU and the US.  Spotify is well regarded.  Facebook for sharing of event information works in both regions and Instagram is a winner.  Complete agreement on these four.

#5 – Connecting Accounts to Apps or Social Sites is an Issue – there is little support for having to connect your account to Facebook when you use Spotify in Germany, for example.  There is a general feeling of “why do you have to know what I’m doing”.  Of course, as we think about our feelings on privacy, we are having this discussion in London, where there are estimated to be 500,000 cameras to track what we do in public.  In both regions, there is not a high degree of anxiety about privacy, but there is an underlying question we’re all asking.  How much information is too much and what are you doing with my info?

#6 – #dontcareabouthashtags – that’s the perfect hashtag for EU Millennials.  They don’t care about hashtags like Americans do.  They exist, just not that interested in them.

#7 – Amazon Prime trumps NetFlix – Amazon Prime, BBC and SkyTV are more relevant than NetFlix, which came in fourth in people’s minds.  Bob wonders if the phenomenon of stock price and Silicon Valley buzz impacts our decisions more in the US.  In the US, we hear about NetFlix stock constantly and what the CEO is doing.  In Europe, not so much…..and the result is Amazon Prime is just fine thank you and we still like our local/regional providers.

Thanks to Lisa Neiss, Ruta Freitakaite, Kathrin Harhoff, Zoe Kindler, Piers Jones and Tove Bergenholt for sharing their thoughts and perspectives from living in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Lithuania and Sweden.  We realized after speaking with you that there are a lot of common areas between the US and Europe, but an equal number of differences that are pretty cool to think about.

We have a lot more to cover in the future.  Thanks again.

Brittany Pearson (Millennial) and Bob Pearson (Boomer)

If you’ve ever spent months planning for a trip, a music festival, or even college, you probably employed a few peer recommendations and a healthy dose of guesswork. Which cities/resorts should you consider, which bands should be on your playlist, which school will help you land a dream job? Here at W2O Group, we’re demystifying the process with forensic analytics. We believe that a brand’s online social resonance is a leading indicator of offline word-of-mouth advocacy. By monitoring digital dialogue, content sharing patterns, and peer networks, we can predict the next “big thing”.

I’m excited to introduce W2O Ranks, a digital relevance rating for newsworthy personalities, brands, organizations, and places. You may have seen the past work we’ve done ranking top universities and health care influencers (Sharecare). As we mature into the Agency of the Future we’re leveraging the in-house brainpower of our 70 analytics and 80 digital pro’s to test new proprietary methods. For a bit of fun, we ranked the top 20 bands of this fall’s Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) by reach, relevance, and resonance across social and digital channels.

ACL is a premier fall American music festival which spans two weekends, features 130+ bands, local eats and arts, and takes place on 46-acres of Austin’s Zilker Park. I’ve often wondered how (producer) C3 books bands, how they’re sequenced across eight+ stages and six days, and who will be the next breakout. As music becomes ubiquitously digitized, social buzz might be the best barometer for who is “hot”. But this doesn’t always correlate with font size and implied order on the official ACL lineup list. Each year there’s bound to be an Alabama Shakes, Skrillex, or Lumineers who magically transform their B-list timeslot into a coming-out party. This isn’t the result of organized PR, it’s good old-fashioned word-of-mouth advocacy. In the mobile age, a band’s rise to headliner status can happen real-time, so the question is no longer “who sells records” but “who builds digital momentum?”

To test the hypothesis we ran the 2013 lineup through a proprietary algorithm indexing social scores from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, web, and digital radio. The result is an interesting mix of established artists and a few potential breakout acts. You may be wondering how Eric Church, Portugal. The Man, and Grimes will drive attendance to ACL. These emerging acts may not sell wristbands, but they’ll probably light up C3’s radar with their ability to extend the festival experience beyond Zilker and into the social web.

Check out our playlist and have some fun with the infographic below. You can play media, follow artists, and share with your friends all from within the image itself. Keep an eye out for future W2O Rankings which could include athletes, actors, sporting events, movies, TV shows, vacation spots, chefs & restaurants, you name it (literally)!

When Spotify, the stream-any-song-you’d-like service, hit the United States last month, I immediately ponied up for a paid subscription at $10 a month. I can now stream almost anything to my mobile phone, and I haven’t turned on my radio since. But that decision puzzled a couple of people, who asked why I would spend the cash rather than just listening to Pandora, which can stream — albeit with less control over specific songs — for free.

The answer, in a word: playlists. I have been creating playlists based on the recommendation of friends as well as the songs that are in heavy rotation at my favorite radio station of all time, WPGU. And I’m getting exposed to all kinds of great, unexpected stuff. With Pandora, the computer-generated playlists, no matter how fine-tuned, don’t bring me anything truly new. Yes, I can set up a Foo Fighters channel, but I’ll never get Allison Krause there.

The night-and-day difference between a WPGU playlist and a Pandora playlist has everything to do with the human DJ spinning tracks. You can’t (yet) replace that sense of “cool” with an algorithm.

But it’s not just music. Late last year, a Facebook friend sent an urgent missive: toxic sludge was fouling the historic Danube River. My friend was aghast, and nearly as upset at the media for not covering the story. Except that the media were covering the story — it was the Facebook community that hadn’t noticed. My hometown paper, a small, Midwestern daily with few ties to Eastern Europe, put the story on the front page. An editor there clearly made a news judgment: while not something that was immediately relevant to her readership, it was important in an objective sense. Score another one for human editors.

I think back to the Danube story when I hear heavy breathing about how, in a Filter Bubble world, prioritization can best be done by algorithms or crowds. And while I don’t want to dismiss the power of those tools (see Aaron Strout’s excellent take on curation last week for an example), it’s clear there remains a role for news (and radio, for that matter) as designed by experts. We’re now nearly 6 months into the New York Times’ grand experiment with its paywall, and it’s a huge — and surprising — success. I can’t help but think that part of that success is the recognition of the value of real-live editors.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check out what the kids say is hip over at WPGU.

When Spotify, the stream-any-song-you’d-like service, hit the United States last month, I immediately ponied up for a paid subscription at $10 a month. I can now stream almost anything to my mobile phone, and I haven’t turned on my radio since. But that decision puzzled a couple of people, who asked why I would spend the cash rather than just listening to Pandora, which can stream — albeit with less control over specific songs — for free.

 

The answer, in a word: playlists. I have been creating playlists based on the recommendation of friends as well as the songs that are in heavy rotation at my favorite radio station of all time, WPGU. And I’m getting exposed to all kinds of great, unexpected stuff. With Pandora, the computer-generated playlists, no matter how fine-tuned, don’t bring me anything truly new. Yes, I can set up a Foo Fighters channel, but I’ll never get Allison Krause there.

 

The night-and-day difference between a WPGU playlist and a Pandora playlist has everything to do with the human DJ spinning tracks. You can’t (yet) replace that sense of “cool” with an algorithm.

 

But it’s not just music. Late last year, a Facebook friend sent an urgent missive: toxic sludge was fouling the historic Danube River. My friend was aghast, and nearly as upset at the media for not covering the story. Except that the media were covering the story — it was the Facebook community that hadn’t noticed. My hometown paper, a small, Midwestern daily with few ties to Eastern Europe, put the story on the front page. An editor there clearly made a news judgment: while not something that was immediately relevant to her readership, it was important in an objective sense. Score another one for human editors.

 

I think back to the Danube story when I hear heavy breathing about how, in a Filter Bubble world, prioritization can best be done by algorithms or crowds. And while I don’t want to dismiss the power of those tools (see Aaron Strout’s excellent take on curation last week for an example), it’s clear there remains a role for news (and radio, for that matter) as designed by experts. We’re now nearly 6 months into the New York Times’ grand experiment with its paywall, and it’s a huge — and surprising — success. I can’t help but think that part of that success is the recognition of the value of real-live editors.

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check out what the kids say is hip over at WPGU.