My SXSW 2012 panel on the intellectual failure of streaming music services

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The elusive big idea or do we need a big idea? Read More

Independent music in Portland – a discussion

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This is the audio recording of a talk that took place at the Governor Hotel in Portland on June 9th 2010 hosted by the City Club of Portland. The panel discussed the Portland independent music scene.

Moderator: Metro Council President and music aficionado David Bragdon
Dave Allen of Pampelmoose, a music website covering indie music and a founding member and bass player for the post-punk band Gang of Four. He is also Director, Insights & Digital Strategy at North
Rachel Blumberg is an American drummer and singer, best known for her tenure as the drummer for rock band The Decemberists.
Jared Mees is the co-owner of DIY craft and music store/indie record label Tender Loving Empire and is lead singer and guitarist for Jared Mees and the Grown Children.
Singer/songwriter Laura Veirs has a folk-sound with a focus on lyricism.

Listen to the discussion here: Independent Music in PDX [Click to play. Right click/Control click to download]

North’s Ashod Simonian in Panel

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Ashod Simonian Musician NORTH
Photo Credit: Annie Beedy

Here at NORTH our cultural tribe members and those that we collaborate closely with in our creative circles often wear more than one hat – to coin a phrase. It’s not to suggest that other creative shops don’t have people with multiple skill sets as it ought to be par for the course. As we espouse on our own web site about page, we see ourselves as part ad agency, part creative boutique, part crash-pad for artists, designers, film makers, bloggers, bands and big-thought thinkers.

Of course we would say that, right? So it’s nice to see that our project manager/designer/artist/musician/film maker, etc, Ashod Simonian, got some great props from a third party – Panel – a Los Angeles-based music company, that was “established to provide a trusted source of music by promoting artists with unique talents—or, as we prefer to brag, bring “music to the people.”

As Panel says:
[Ashod is a] … musician who jams with members of Pavement, a visual artist who still works in Polaroid, and co-founder of The Ship—a Los Angeles artist collective that just happens to include many of the scene’s heavy hitters. In short, he’s everything we look for in a Panelist.

Read the whole interview here.

An Evening of Tense, Excruciating Awkwardness

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Thanks to all who attended an Evening of Excruciating Awkwardness hosted by NORTH and 52ltd. The 100 + crowd enjoyed fine beer and wine, hors d’oeuvres by Tavola and a lively debate about client/creative tension moderated by Linda Jeo Zerba of Deputy Consulting and featuring: John Hart, CMO of Ann Sacks and Kallista brands, Scott Biniak, Associate Director of Advertising/Nike APHQ, Steve Sandstrom, Creative Director and Partner at Sandstrom Partners and Mark Ray, ECD at NORTH.

For those that missed it, top line conclusions (as we recall them):

For creatives:

Always be hungry, always be in new-business mode (even with an established client), always think ahead for your clients.

Sometimes there is a better idea. If you think there’s only one creative solution to a business problem you might want to look at a different career.

It makes for a bad meeting if the emphasis seems to be on “selling.” Offer to share a great opportunity that will solve for the client’s need. Then make a robust, watertight case for that opportunity focused on the client’s goal.

For clients:

The worst meetings are those in which the key decision maker is not present (although they may seem like good meetings at the time.)

Be disciplined up front. Don’t use the creative presentation as the jumping off point for a discussion about strategy. Ensure everyone client side is in agreement before engaging the agency.

Clients need to be smart about their stuff – know the business goals, plans for growth, the customer inside and out… and know all those things better than the agency.

Don’t assume creatives are producing something for their own self-expression. Most often they have the client’s goals in mind.

For both:

The best relationships are those in which there is trust – a “safe” environment in which to have a frank exchange of views about the work.

Remember that this is a business but there is something magical that happens when you make art, and sometimes that magic can transfer into something commercial.

The best work speaks to a universal human truth to which everyone can relate.

See? Something good usually comes out of those extremely awkward situations.

Even if it’s just a free meal and a bit of information that can help you later on down the line.


Photos by Chris Teso