So, beautiful people… it’s time for Bri’s Favorite Things 2016! Looking over my list, I can truly say that ACCESSORIES definitely stole the year! If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you already know the deal:
Shopping is easy when you buy the thingsyou love for the people you love
I only recommend things I’ve actually purchased for myself ❤️❤️❤️
There are more than twenty-five items this year!!! 😳 All super fabulous, of course. ☺️ If you’re a guy and need ideas for your gal, this list is for you! If you’re a girl shopping for your mom, sister, neice, cousin, BFF (or for yourself 😉), this list is also for you!
I didn’t make it to SXSW in 2015, as planned; but, I am going this year! My flight is booked (Delta) and my hotel is reserved (Marriott). If you can’t get a hotel downtown your life will be miserable and the thought of massive traffic jams?… I just cannot and I will not deal with it (even in my own city), so will be doing A LOT of walking! Austin, TX has changed drastically since my time there in 2001 as an intern with Dell Computer and I’m VERY MUCH looking forward to attending this festival for the first time and exploring the city.
So, what will I do? That’s a great question and one I am working on answering. First of all, I am NOT registering. Official badges range from $495 to $1,745 and I have no tolerance or interest in doing that. There are plenty of free events I can partake in and I plan to do just that so I will be 100% #unofficial!
The festival is divided into 3 portions:
Interactive: March 11-15
Music: March 15-20
I will be there for the music portion only so that helps limit/target my research. So, how do you do it? First off, you absolutely must RSVP for a free SXSW Guest Pass – it will grant you access to all of their free events (there are quite a few). After that, you can download the SXSW mobile app (iOS, Android) and have access to information on the go. Spotify (rsvp), StubHub (rsvp) and Pandora (rsvp) all have FREE all-day music events – that’s enough in itself!!! (RSVP for everything now, decide later) SIDE NOTE: Spotify is sponsoring a few SoulCyle sessions and I absolutely requested a bike! There are also “Unofficial SXSW” Twitter and Facebook pages you check out. Turn on notifications for ALL associated social media accounts you can find and be sure to STAY IN THE KNOW, Bri Alys Style!!! #superexcited
It’s time! For the 3rd year in a row, I’m sharing my favorite gift ideas for 2015 – all of which are things I have purchased for myself this year (why give someone something you wouldn’t want??!) Whether it’s your mom, girlfriend, sister or maybe a special treat for yourself, these gifts will certainly make a splash!! Enjoy and Happy shopping!!! See also 2014, 2013
Pandora just launched a one day service of add-free listening with a single graphic and zero text – well done! Fork over 99 cents and you’ll get a full 24 hours of music, free of those annoying ads. Happy listening.
Apple’s 15th World Wide Developer’s Conference was held today. To say that I was underwhelmed is an overstatement. As a person who owns an iPhone, iPad and Mac – I feel completely stupid and reckon this is what Avid Google / Android users have been saying for years… lack of innovation, more of the same, just in a shiny new package. Now, don’t get me wrong, I (still) love all my iDevices but this 2.5 hour event today left me thinking one thing, “Has Apple lost its way?” Or as Spotify’s CEO put it.. “Oh, ok.” (sigh)
Any who … This post is about the business (or lack thereof) of streaming music so let me get to it. There are, what I consider to be 4 key players in this space: Pandora, Spotify, Tidal and now Apple. I’m writing this post, purely based on my own thoughts (will go back and links / references later). Oh, and let me just say right up front that I don’t care really about Amazon music – it’s too hard to use on my iPhone and clearly Google Music doesn’t fit very well into my iLife. Yes, YouTube is huge on music & videos but it currently has no pay-for-play model, but there is speculation it will soon launch a pay-service as well.
So, here we go:
Pandora: I can’t imagine anyone pays for this service. I suspect most people who live in this space want free music and are not willing to listen to a few ads along the way – it’s like listening to radio in your car: someone else picks the order, you listed with an ad here and there. (You can indeed listen ad-free for $5 month.)
Spotify: My service of choice and the first company to really put streaming music on the map. To reference a marketing term I learned while pursuing my MBA, Spotify has the “first mover advantage”. In essence it is the advantage gained by the initial occupant of a market segment. To be honest, this service I think, appeals to regular people who want to listen to music without ads and are looking to have a decent mobile experience – that’s it. Fanciness not required, nor is access to “behind the scenes, exclusive content”. We like music but don’t WORSHIP artists – we’ll just take the music and go on our merry way. To provide some perspective here, Spotify has 15 million paid users! I pay my $9.99 month and go on my merry way – no hassle. And I’m likely hooked for a very long time.
Tidal: Recently introduced to the market, offering higher quality music than anyone else at $19.99 / month. The market here is clearly businesses / DJ’s / artists – I meant the people who are seriously into music, like a whole lot, who can actually hear the difference in higher quality music.Now, think about this – yes, Tidal has a $9.99 / month package, but really at this price point Spotify wins, if not purely on user experience. Let’s guesstimate here: Assume Tidal has 1,000,000 users who pay $19.99 / month. Now do the math: $19.99 / month * 12 months * 1,000,000 users = $2.8 billion. Is this enough to offset its lack of appeal to middle-of-the-road users? Only time will tell!
Apple Music: After listening to WWDC today, there’s nothing special here. I actually got really bored. I was completely underwhelmed with the “Connect” experience aimed to draw in a social element – but where’s Twitter / Facebook / Instagram integration – you know, the services people actively use today? (lacking) Beats 1 the 24/7 global radio station led by some tope industry DJ’s seemed the most fascinating but not enough for me to switch. The draw for Apple was to appeal to families: up to 6 people can list (and get their own “space” for playlists, etc. for $14.99 / month; but, Spotify came right out and said it would match that. So what is Apple’s angle? Using its’ $178 billion in cash to squeeze out its’ competition. Cue the DOJ.
These companies are focused on segmenting their not-very-unique service/offering by user group / audience / community. They are not innovating. In addition, musicians and tech companies are doing a disservice to the music industry as a whole by pitting Artist A vs. Artist B. And Apple has been widely accused of starting the downfall of the music industry all by itself by offering “cheap, digital singles. We’ve also seen the continued consolidation of the music industry down to 3 key players (Universal, Sony, Warner). Recently, PBS also reports that in 1999 the music industry was worth a $14 billion dollar industry and in 2001it was at half that amount, $7 billion. What do you think it’s work today???
I tried Tidal because of the “oh and ah factor” – I mean Jay Z? Beyonce? Who wouldn’t dip their toe in the water? But, that thrill didn’t last long! I have no intentions of trying Apple Music, even though they are offering 3 months free (right on the heels of Spotify offering 3-months for $0.99). Why should I? I mean, the features are the same as Spotify and there will be a learning curve – no matter how small. So for Apple Music – it’s a no for me. #SorryNotSorry (can’t you just see Apple squeezing everyone out then raising prices once they are the only player left int the game? Let’s hope Spotify can figure out a way to survive. Competition is a good thing!