2019: A Year in Review

Last year, I took a look back at some of the things that I accomplished throughout 2018. It was a simple writing, but something which really provided some fantastic perspective.

Oftentimes, it can be all too easy to lose track of the little victories which we accumulate in pursuit of our broader goals. But for me, acknowledging these smaller steps has led to an ever-growing appreciation for the bigger picture.

And so with that, here are a few of the highlights from my 2019 year.

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January & February

I kicked the year off by sharpening my meme-making skills. 😂

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As with the last couple years, January brought me what’s become an annual picture with my friend Arlan Hamilton — the work she’s doing with her team at Backstage Capital is something I love supporting here in Atlanta. Her talk this year was no less compelling.

Adam & Arlan 2019

March

I was super excited to have my friend Emily Best here in Atlanta to discuss the work she’s doing at her company Seed&Spark, and the opportunities for the Atlanta film scene.

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“Three sibs” picture with our brother before he went abroad to Germany for six months!

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Two of my best friends in the world formally asked me to be their best man. I could not be more thrilled and am so excited to be there to support Luke and Danielle when they get married. It seems I’ll have to go rent a tux! 🤵

Best man pic

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I had an awesome time recording my first podcast as a guest on Tyler Wagner’s show, “The Business Blast Podcast”. We talked about music, startups & tech, my time as a music journalist, and how learning to build relationships has been key to all of it. 🎙️

👉 Listen to the episode here! 👈

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I did an interview with Omni Calculator for their #HuntedHunters series discussing music-tech, startups, and the importance of cultivating relationships.

👉 Read the full interview here! 👈

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Sometimes the most interesting opportunities come to you from the most serendipitous of sources. 🙃

April & May

I got retweeted by Dee Snider, the legendary lead singer of Twisted Sister! 😱

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And getting retweeted by Atlanta Magazine was kinda cool too.

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I was floored (and truly humbled!) to be name-dropped by Jessi Hempel during her interview with Recode. Formerly of BackChannel, Business Insider, Fortune, and Wired, and now the editor-at-large at LinkedIn, I’ve followed Jessi’s writing for a few years now, and it was some of the first material I gravitated towards upon my entrance into startups & tech. Sometimes in this business (as with everything in life, I suppose), you wonder if you’re making any sort of impact or impression. It’s moments like this that underscore the answer: yes. 😱

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Go out and bring the very best value you can to people; all the rest takes care of itself.

Here’s the full transcript of the interview and here’s the podcast itself. I highly suggest listening to the whole thing (I’d also recommend listening around minute 23:01 😉).

I didn’t make it to the #PitchAtlanta event at the Atlanta Tech Village, but I did make it to the afterparty where I was introduced to the incomparable David Lightburn.

Here’s a snap of the great panel I hope to hear live next year!

pitch atlanta

The excitement continued as I became more politically active, meeting a number of rising stars. Some I took pictures with and some are people I’m quietly continuing to meet with. 🗳️

Get out there and get active!

Here I am with Georgia Senate candidate Jon Ossoff.

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And here I am with Gwinett County Board of Ed Representative Everton Blair, Jr.

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June & July

Went to a great 90s punk tribute show downtown with the bestie Abby (before her move to Ohio). This picture accurately captures our friendship. 🙌

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I could not have been prouder of my parents — their win at the 11th Circuit (in a gender discrimination case) was cited at this year’s NELA Conference in New Orleans. Huge deal with far-reaching results. ⚖️

NELA

I met Kwam Amissah around the holiday time last year through Ruben Harris. It’s been awesome to see his growth in the tech world and exciting to hear about his current projects — here we are at Flatiron Atlanta!

(Picture taken by the incomparable Tammy Carson, whom I also met this year!) 📸

Kwam flatiron

I always love it when Career Karma CEO Ruben Harris is in town and I’m able to come out to support him. He’s doing awesome things in tech and I’m super humbled to count him as a friend & ally. 🚀

I’m also continuously thrilled by the serendipity of tech — it was at this event, heading out to support Ruben, that I had the immense pleasure of meeting Charles Pridgen, a huge asset to the Atlanta tech scene. 👍

Ruben Harris. gathering spot

Then it was time for a break for a little while. Wheels up for a couple weeks in Europe traveling with my mom — one of my best friends in the world. ✈️

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And here’s the post-flight exhaustion in the Frankfurt airport.

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First stop (same day!) — historic Mainz, Germany. The medieval history nerd in me was all kinds of happy. 🇩🇪

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August 

Next day — first full day in Germany, we went to Heidelberg. 😎

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We took in some amazing Jewish history in Worms. Here’s Mom going into a synagogue that is hundreds of years old.

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Hopping over to France, we experienced Colmar, a town in Alsace known as “Little Venice.” 🇫🇷

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We saw the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg in France. The medieval history nerd in me continued to geek out. 🏰

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I saw a hedgehog at our Airbnb and my life was complete.

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We stopped in Basel, Switzerland to see the synagogue. It was closed, but the architecture is amazing. 🇨🇭

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Stopped by the Jewish Museum of Switzerland in Basel before leaving the city.

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Next day brought Lauterbrunnen — it’s cold in the Alps even in the summer.

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We climbed the Schilthorn (ok, it was a cable car, but it was still 9744 feet up!). 🚠

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Jungfrau is known as the “Top of Europe” (11,333 feet). It also means snow in the summertime. 🗻

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Driving back north to Germany, we decided on a couple side-stops…

Like Vaduz, Liechtenstein! I feel like Fulton County in Atlanta is bigger than this whole country. (But it’s an awesome country!). 🇱🇮

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And dinner in Bregenz, Austria. 🇦🇹

This is my Mom, the badass master scuba-diver, Columbia-trained attorney licensed in three states, mature as can be…

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I wasn’t leaving Germany this time without seeing Augsburg. The historian in me demanded it.

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We went to see the synagogue here. Truly one of the most gorgeous synagogue interiors I’ve ever seen. They didn’t allow pictures in the sanctuary, but I will be going back sometime in my life.

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Ulm, Germany was beautiful. We took time to see some of the most popular sights.

And some of the most nondescript — here is the Holocaust Memorial behind the newly rebuilt Ulm synagogue. ✡️

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Before we did dinner in the town, we had to climb the Rothenburg city walls. Here’s Mom trying to distract me from taking a good picture because she thinks she’s funny. 😂

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While Josh finished his final exams, we took in the beautiful town of Bamberg.

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And here’s the camera capturing my face just after she tells me a ridiculous joke. 🤦‍♂️

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Last day before our flight home with Josh in the morning. Some wine in Frankfurt to celebrate a wonderful trip.

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September

Back from Europe, a week of rest, and then I so enjoyed finally having the chance to meet the phenomenal Lolita Taub in person. Gorgeous view of Baltimore in the background!

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Then over to Washington, D.C. to visit Shaina for her birthday. She makes funny faces.

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She also made me a special keychain — “one tiny fuck” as she called it.

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We hit up the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. to take a peek at work from David Best (who’s most well-known for his ephemeral wooden Temples at Burning Man). 🔥

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And yes, we are very mature…

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I did an awesome interview with entrepreneur Rich Cardona which I’m excited to post in the new year! And had the immense pleasure of meeting Allen Gannett before heading back to Atlanta.

I published this piece on three things you should be doing on LinkedIn (or you’re missing out!).

And then dropped my second podcast recording as Mario Porecca’s guest on his fantastic show the “Ten Minute Mindset.” We talked about humor, humility, creating value, how to define a mission, and how to build relationships with people who might otherwise seem unreachable. 🎙️

👉 Listen to Part One of the episode here! 👈

10min mindset

👉Listen to Part Two of the episode here! 👈

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Made it out to Atlanta Blockchain Week to hear about some of the great blockchain and crypto stuff happening in Atlanta tech. ⛓️

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I met Jon Ossoff again at his official Senate campaign kickoff event.

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And I met the legendary civil rights icon and hero Congressman John Lewis as well!

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October

You know it’s gonna be a good month when it starts with old college friends coming to visit — thanks Esther!

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October was an absolute marathon of Atlanta tech! I started the month off by landing access to the first-ever OTT Fest! The sheer number of talented film, tech, and media speakers over the multi-day event was incredible. 📽️

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I finally met OTT Fest founder (and newly-minted Thea CEO!) Kate Atwood in person.

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I won a Roku…from tweeting about the amazing panels… 😱🤣

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Over the same day during lunch, I raced up to Google Atlanta in Midtown and was able to see my friend Antoine Woods speak at their Founders RoadMap event.

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So I was able to add to my “Google guest” pass collection (I’ve now crossed off Atlanta, Seattle, and San Francisco ha).

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I was super excited to serendipitously hear Stefanie Jewett speak too, and finally meet her in person as well. 😃

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I was able to attend the TechStars Atlanta demo day and hear some awesome new companies pitch! 🚀

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I kept up the pace by heading out to Atlanta’s Startup Battlefield.

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I was excited to record my third podcast episode as a guest with Luke Williams on his show, the “Grab a Cloud” podcast. The episode drops early in 2020! 🎙️

And my fourth show as a guest, on Emily Velilla’s show, also releasing in the new year. 🎙️

Then I capped off October’s tech marathon by going down to my first Atlanta Startup Village event (thanks to Aly Merritt for the invite!).

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Actually that’s a lie; October’s tech marathon was really capped off with an awesome care-package from my friends over at Shrug Capital (thanks Nick and Niv!). 📦

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November

Could November begin any better than another amazing care-package from the incomparable Nikki DeMeré, who has become one of my closest friends and allies?

I don’t think so. 🤗

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I was super excited to represent my alma mater Brandeis University at the college fair this year. Once a Bradeisian, always a Brandeisian. 😎

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Back up to D.C. to spend Thanksgiving with Shaina. Can’t believe I’ve now known her for ten years. But she works for a tour company and told me some of the cool things about D.C. as we walked around. 🇺🇸

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And I introduced her to her first Philz Coffee! ☕️

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A day in Fredrick, Maryland with Shaina and Kate, two of my closest friends in the whole world. It was cold haha. And Kate’s son is adorable, even if he’s not interested in the picture. ❤️

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Met up in D.C. with my other college friend Victoria — and I was rocking my Liechtenstein shirt.

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And I started planning a short webinar with my friend Elaine Jacques — we’ll see about getting it out the door in the new year. 😉

December 

With multiple birthdays and anniversaries, December is family time.

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Met this wonderful girl a couple months back — here we are at Garden Lights at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Chelsea made funny faces in some pictures… 😂

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And we saw Hanson! The 90s kid in me was happy. 🎸

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December is also friends and siblings time.

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Mom couldn’t resist taking one last funny picture of me for the year. ✡️

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And of course I had to finish the year by posting my new list of “100 Independent Albums and EP’s” that people probably missed in 2019. Gotta keep the ties to the music world strong. 😉🎸

Reflecting on 2019

This was a marathon year for me. I feel as if the seeds that I sometimes serendipitously planted years ago in tech and music really began to yield amazing relationships and opportunities in 2019. And I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. I can see myself continuing to write about music, tech, relationships, mental health, business, and diversity, and so much of my inspiration is drawn from dialogues I had this year.

No plan ever survives the battlefield, and 2019 was certainly no exception to that rule. But I’ve grown as a person and as an entrepreneur, and intend to keep that trajectory moving at full force as we move into the next decade.

Bring on 2020! 🚀

(And remember to look for the orange sunglasses. 😎 😉)

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100 Awesome Independent Album and EP Releases You Probably Missed in 2019

Welcome to the FIFTH annual list of independent albums and EP’s that probably slipped under your radar this year. I’ve been in the music industry for over a decade at this point (I know right?!) and it continues to floor me just how much talent is out there.

Yet here we are again, with even more incredible music for you to sink your teeth into. One of the truest things that keeps me creating these lists year after year is the excitement I derive from the serendipitous discovery of these wide swaths of creativity. Sometimes the best artistry emerges from the best-kept secrets.  🤘🎸

Since 2015, I’ve given you lists of 100 independent albums and EP’s you probably missed during the year. Here they are:

And so, here is the 2019 list in all its glory. I’m equally excited for the new crop of artists here as well as for those returning again. A healthy helping of the content on this year’s list is from artists I’ve known for years and who continue to crank out new material. It’s all balanced by an influx of new content from new artists whom I’ll certainly be keeping tabs on into the new year.

As with all previous lists, these 100 albums and EP’s come from artists all over the world. This year’s list includes artists from: Canada, Greece, Germany, Spain, Austria, Hungary, France, almost ALL of Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland!), Australia, Estonia, Argentina, Mexico, the Philippines, New Zeland, Indonesia, Switzerland, Italy, Russia, Bulgaria, the U.K., Poland, and 21 different U.S. states. The independent world is massive.

It’s always interesting to see what each year brings in terms of style and genre, and this year’s list seems to heavily feature classic garage punk, pop-punk, shoegaze, alternative, metal, folk rock, and hard rock material.

With all that out of the way, here are 100 of the independent albums and EP’s that you probably missed in 2019. All were released during the 2019 calendar year.

As always, albums are in no particular order.

Remember, if you dig this and want to see more, follow me on Twitter @adammarx13 and let’s talk music, tech, and startups!

Come take a peek under the radar at the material you probably missed this year—live in my music world for a little while. 😎👍

 

1. What Happened To Us? (Vol. 1)The Head — Atlanta, Georgia, USA

What Happened to Us

2. Breathe In ColoursForever Still — Copenhagen, Denmark

Breathe in Colours

3. GhostBloody Diamonds — Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Ghost

4. I’m The ReaperThe Beautiful Monument — Melbourne, Australia

I'm The Reaper

5. Gone Off the EarthFelic — Helsinki, Finland

Gone Off the Earth

6. Far CanalFox Ache — Brisbane, Australia

Far Canal

7. EphemeralWe Are The Catalyst — Gothenburg, Sweden

Ephemeral

8. Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones on Audiotree LiveHannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones — Los Angeles, California, USA

Hannah Wicklund Live

9.  Retrospective | ReactiveHave No Clue — Esztergom, Hungary

Retrospective, Reactive

10. Mourning Vibes IIDownStater — Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Mourning Vibes II

11. When Daughters & Sons RevoltPast Tense Of Never — Graham, North Carolina, USA

When Daughters

12. Show Me Your TeethBeth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters — Cardiff, Wales, UK

Show Me Yourth Teeth

13. The Extinction of UnicornsThe Dead Love — Sydney, Australia

The Extinction of Unicorns

14. The Wood Room SessionsJust Like Honey — New York, New York, USA

The Wood Room Sessions

15. Useless HandsRival Town — St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Useless Hands

16. Not So BoldDance Contraption — Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Not So Bold

17. Main Street RevivalMain Street Revival — Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Main Street Revival

18. Crowned In FrostFrozen Crown — Milan, Italy

Crowned In Frost

19. Come What MayOh See Demons — Bergen, Norway

Come What May

20. How Your Life’s Played OutMontgomery — Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Howw Your Life's

21. Alone in the DarkIn Good Nature — Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Alone in the Dark

22. Brand New WorldDesert Queen — Tartu, Estonia

Brand New World

23. Asleep in the Deep EndAndross — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Asleep In The Deep End

24. It Was BeautifulFawner — Bristol, England, UK

It Was Beautiful

25. TrayaSet Fire — Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Traya

26. Notti di FolliaOut For Summer — Moderna, Italy

Notti di Follia

27. SliceSpo — Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Slice

28. Feeding The VoidHysteria — Dresden, Germany

Feeding the Void

29. Here & Now (EP)Dangerfield — Brisbane, Australia

Here and Now EP

30. CelebrationCityState — Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA

Celebration

31. Dream LivingLost Mind — Torrelodones, Spain

Dream Living

32. So It BeganSilvernite — Greece

So It Began

33. Bridges We Build | Bridges We BurnTeresa Banks — Helsinki, Finland

Bridges We Build, Bridges We Burn

34. SerenitySaint Raven — Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Serenity

35. Two SidesDirty Rugs — Seattle, Washington, USA

Two Sides

36. ATERAZea Mays — Bilbao, Spain

Atera

37. LP1Clouds & Satellites — Savannah, Georgia, USA

LP1

38. Three on Three EPJack Droppers & the Best Intentions — Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Three on Three EP

39. CRAFTING EPCRAFTING — Wilmington, Delaware, USA

Crafting EP

40. The World ConspiresBirdeatsbaby — Brighton, England, UK

The World Conspires

41. TranscendHello, Mountain — Denver, Colorado, USA

Transcend

42. Spiral DownBlue Velvet Drapes — Los Angeles, California, USA

Spiral Down

43. RedeemerRed Handed Denial — Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Redeemer

44. MaladjustedMy Secret Haven — Warsaw, Poland

Maladjusted

45. Glitter TrailsGlitter Trails — Los Angeles, California, USA

Glitter Trails

46. MemoriasCarla Monterrubio — Mexico City, Mexico

Memorias

47. The TollDUSK — Vienna, Austria

The Toll

48. Manic EPLie to Life — Detroit, Michigan, USA

Manic EP

49. Genetic NobodiesGenetic Nobodies — Los Angeles, California, USA

Genetic Nobodies

50. Skull FlowerJohn Tessier — Paris, France

Skull Flower

51. UnbreakableKeep Flying — New Jersey, USA

Unbreakable

52. Scream In My DreamStrangers In The Attic — Zurich, Switzerland

Scream in My Dream

53. Stories in TimeTime Jugglers — Sofia, Bulgaria

Stories in Time

54. A New DawnAltHero — Santa Cruz De Tenerife, Spain

A New Dawn

55. On A FlowBreitenbach — Frankfurt, Germany

On a Flow

56. L’hameçonATHECIO — Lyon, France

L'hamecon

57. Dusky WingDusky Wing — Los Angeles, California, USA

Dusky Wing

58. PALIMONY EPPALIMONY — Gainesville, Florida, USA

Palimony EP

59. On FencesBetween Bodies — Berlin, Germany

On Fences

60. DormancyPlaying Pretend — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Dormancy

61. Woodland RitesGreen Lung — London, England, UK

Woodland Rites

62. Peachy Keen EPGolden Cinema — Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Peachy Keen EP

63. ThunderjoyWest Valley Shakers — Sheridan, Oregon, USA

Thunderjoy

64. Queen of the PillThe Jackets — Bern, Switzerland

Queen of the Pill

65. After DarkPale Lips — Montreal, Quebec, Canada

After Dark

66. ErebusReturned To The Earth — Nuneaton, England, UK

Erebus

67. SchizophreniaAltersight — Saint Petersburg, Russia

Schizophrenia

68. IVOMAHA — Toronto, Ontario, Canada

IV

69. EgressTopLady  — Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Egress

70. Blind by MidnightDino Bravo — Burlington, Vermont, USA

Blind by Midnight

71. Cool EvilGlued — St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Cool Evil

72. StressorWine Lips — Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Stressor

73. Here It IsFragile Canyons — Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Here It Is

74. Feels Like ForeverPretty Bird — Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Feels Like Forever

75. Larmes ConfettisCosmophone — Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada

Larmes confettis

76. UNOBlack Betty — Villa Maria, Argentina

UNO

77. The GhostwriterThe Ghostwriter — Detroit, Michigan, USA

The Ghostwriter

78. Pen NamePen Name — Canterbury, England, UK

Pen Name

79. Hoping, Not HopefulLow Vault — Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Hoping, Not Hopeful

80. Planet HunterPlanet Hunter — Wellington, New Zealand

Planet Hunter

81. Butterfly DistortionDive to Blue — Buenos Aires, Argentina

Butterfly Distortion

82. Take Her My LifeCastle Black — Brooklyn, New York, USA

Take Her My Life

83. Starburst – EPTruett & The Traitors — Springfield, Missouri, USA

Starburts EP

84. GoMoND — Bandung, Indonesia

Go

85. A War WithinEnmy — Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

A War Within

86. The Devil You KnowThe Coathangers — Atlanta, Georgia, USA

The Devil You Know

87. Manic MoodEasy Jane — Beirut, Lebanon

Manic Mood

88. DemonstrationFloral Canyon — Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Demonstration

89. ExhaleThe Sleep Department — Brooklyn, New York, USA

Exhale

90. epSoft Topics — Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

ep

91. SPLASH – EPService Delay — Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Splash EP

92. Welcome to the BlockStonewall BLVD — Denver, Colorado, USA

Welcome to the Block

93. The New Joys E.P.The New Joys — Brooklyn, New York, USA

The New Joys EP

94. SuperfuzzSuperfuzz — A Coruña, Spain

Superfuzz

95. OvernightInsomnia — Milan, Italy

Overnight

96. EP 2019Dischord — Aix En Provence, France

EP 2019

97. Young & DumbAll In Due Time — New York, New York, USA

Young and Dumb

98. Indeed EPIndeed — Budapest, Hungary

Indeed ep

99. MuralMural — Cebu, The Philippines

Mural

100. No Missed Calls, No New MessagesThe Ragetones — Pueblo, Colorado, USA

No Missed Calls

***

If you enjoyed this list please share and give these artists some love!

2018: A Year in Review

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Back in January, I set a list of goals for myself this year.

It may have been a bit lofty, but I am nonetheless proud of what I got done this year. I achieved some of them, and some of them I’m reinstating for next year. But life is about more than just work goals — here are some of the highlights of my 2018. 👍

January

I opened January with a slew of great projects. I continued writing for Crunchbase News, writing more on Spotify as they approached this April direct listing. My dad then proceeded to make a joke about the direct listing — I’m still laughing. 😂

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A week later, I followed that with some interesting editing work on Andy Sparks’ new Holloway project.

January capped with a great talk from Arlan Hamilton here in Atlanta, which of course I enjoyed attending. It was great to see Arlan again and hear her backstory — “inspiring” barely begins to appropriately describe it. 🙌

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Though I didn’t publish too many Minimum Viable Network pieces this year, one of the ones I’m most proud of drew heavily on my experience during Arlan’s talk. I begin to think a lot more about the power of ubiquity.

I finally said goodbye to my iPhone 4S. 📱

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Remember that time at the Product Hunt party last year that Eric Willis was poking fun at me for still being the only person in tech with one? 😂😱

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I snagged an invite to the Atlanta Jewish Film festival — they made me wear a tie. 😱 👔

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February & March

February was slow, but in March, I took a break from Atlanta for a few days to fly up to D.C. for the gun reform march — the March for Our Lives speakers were amazing to hear in person.

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My college friend and I caught some culture at the Smithsonian.

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A week later, March ended on a high note when I had the pleasure of meeting Randi Zuckerberg following her talk at Georgia State. 👏

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April

In April, I started becoming much more vocal about harassment, diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility. I’ve been a huge supporter of Backstage Capital since I learned about their mission, and I believe equally as much in the work being done by Aileen Lee, Jenny Lefcourt, and others at AllRaise.org. I’m happy to be an ally in whatever way I can and will continue to be loud about changes which need to be made. I’m similarly inspired by and have become an ardent supporter of the work that Melinda Epler & Wayne Sutton are doing with Change Catalysts (plus their partnership with Backstage is fantastic!). 🤔

I saw some of my closest college friends in New Jersey and considered leaving tech for a future in modeling. Then reality set in. 😂

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I published my last piece on time & money before taking a long, well-deserved break from writing.

I made a meme.

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May

Right around mid-May, I hit a wall. I was having a hard time fighting past some anxiety and depression. I was having constant conversations with some of my closest friends and supporters, to whom I will always be grateful. But I realized that conversations may not be enough, and perhaps some fresh air was in order. So I took a break from Atlanta and worked on changing my perspective.

June

I flew out to the Bay Area and got to see Kiki Schirr again (she also hosted me, which means she’s a special kind of saint lol). Day 1, I had lunch with my super-patient editor Alex Wilhelm and he gave me a tour of the Crunchbase offices! 👍

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I finally got to meet Ken Yeung in person after many months of snarky Twitter comments. He’s just as snarky in person. 😱

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I drank a lot of Philz Coffee. A lot. ☕

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Coffee with Barrett Daniels, who’s become a close friend and confidant, and with Rei Wang, someone whom I think is doing fantastic work with new founders. Then got to drop by and finally meet Ruben Harris in person! 🚀

Lunch again with Adam Singer, and got to hit up his album release party! It ended up making my list of new albums this year (see below). There was a lot of snark and even more discussion about music than we normally touch on.

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I meandered down to San Jose and had lunch with Poornima Vijayashanker, who’s been both a pivotal influence on my understanding of accessibility in tech, and an amazing friend. 🤗

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I hit up Sacramento for some awesome hiking with college friends.

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July

Then came some time in Chicago, where I had some awesome pizza with fellow Crunchbse News writer Jason Rowley. He’s got great taste in pizza places. 🍕

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I hung out with a college friend I hadn’t seen in years.

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I met Cory Warfield, who’s become a close friend and mentor, and has completely turned me on to using LinkedIn in a new way. 🙌

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Got back to Atlanta just in time to go meet Emily Best— her company Seed&Spark was putting on a great event here in Atlanta. 📽

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I finally met Andrea Hernandez in person at an event here in Atlanta to promote more women in tech and business. 👏

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I saw the March for Our Lives speakers at their town hall here in Atlanta.

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I snagged tickets to *the FINAL* Warped Tour here in Atlanta. Got to see Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Simple Plan, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Mayday Parade, August Burns Red, and The Interrupters. 🤘🎸

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August & September

In September, I had the super pleasure of meeting Jim Augustine— COO of Zuckerberg Media— when Sue’s Tech Kitchen came to do their event in Atlanta. 👍

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I spent a lot of time thinking about anxiety & depression, and talking about how to address these issues in a much more pointed and accepting way. I am more thankful than I could really even articulate to those of my friends— especially those in the startup/tech world— who have supported me through these challenges in my own life. To Kiki Schirr, Alex Wilhelm, Jason Rowley, Christina Warren, Nikki DeMere, Poornima Vijyashanker, Adam Singer, Espree Devora, Nick Abouzeid, Bryan Landers, Cory Warfield, and numerous others who have helped me find a more positive mindset this year, I am eternally grateful. 🤔🤗🙌

October

I voted early—  there are big things coming in the near future for Georgia. 🗳

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Halloween encouraged me to wear a tie more often ha. 😉 👔

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November

Hit up New Jersey for Thanksgiving break and Kerry Flynn took me to an awesome bar! We talked tech, music, and going to school in Boston. 🤘

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Some family time at Ellis Island. This has inspired my sister to start researching our family history and in the last few weeks, we’ve all learned things we never knew!

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Then the siblings and I pretty much froze at the Statue of Liberty. 🗽

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I returned from my six-month break from writing, and damn it felt good.

I’ve been exploring new projects with some awesome people— we’ll see what picks up in the new year.

December

I doubled down on Atlanta.

And I capped off this year with my new list of “100 Independent Albums & EP’s” that you all probably missed at some point.  😎🎸

Reflecting on 2018

The second half of 2017 was extremely hard for me for a number of reasons and I tried to enter 2018 with a new mindset. Nothing ever goes 100% according to plan, and I had a couple stumbles this year. But I’ve grown my network, cultivated deeper relationships, tried to create as much value as I could, created new things, and became determined to live my life in a more positive way. None of these things happen overnight, but it’s all about the journey.

Be well all, keep moving forward!

Bring on 2019! 😎🎉

 

 

 

 

 

100 Awesome Independent Album and EP Releases You Probably Missed in 2018

Another December just about passed, and another 100 independent albums and EP’s you probably missed this year. In any artistic industry, so much of the exciting content flies quietly under the radar, except for when you know where to look for it. 🤘🎸

Since 2015, I’ve given you lists of 100 independent albums and EP’s you probably missed during the year. Here they are:

Now here comes 2018’s. I’m so stoked for the new crop of artists here, as well as for those returning again. A lot of the content on this year’s list comes from artists I’ve known for years, producing music for new projects they’ve put together recently. This is a different kind of excitement; I love seeing the evolution of these creatives.

As with all previous lists, these 100 albums and EP’s come from artists all over the world. This year’s list includes artists from: Canada, Greece, Germany, South Korea, Belarus, Austria, Singapore, France, South Africa, Sweden, Australia, Norway, Spain, Estonia, Ukraine, Italy, the U.K., Switzerland, Russia, and 22 different U.S. states. The independent world is massive.

It’s always interesting to see what each year brings in terms of style and genre, and 2018 seems to have been heavy on punk, pop-punk, alternative, instrumental, metal, and jazz-influenced material, both in terms of my personal taste and overall releases.

With all that said, here are 100 of the independent albums and EP’s that you probably missed in 2018. All were released during the 2018 calendar year. Music is multidimensional, and all these artists should be treated as such.

As always, albums are in no particular order.

Come expand your universe and live in my world for a little while. 😎👍

1. Satellites — Chelsea Shag — Atlanta, Georgia, USA

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2. Painting with Scissors — Andy Gruhin — Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

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3. Feels — Fair Panic — Wayne, New Jersey, USA

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4. Overseas — White Coven — Zaragoza, Spain

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5. Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones — Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones — Nashville, Tennessee, USA

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6. Dreamland — Just Like Honey — New York, New York, USA

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7. Personal Issues — Oh See Demons — Bergen, Norway

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8. My Only Hope — Adam Singer — San Francisco, California, USA

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9.  Mind Tricks — Brownstone Inc. — Graz, Austria

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10. Thriving, Given The Consequences — Soviet Ohio — Syracuse, New York, USA

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11. In Moon We TrustHālley — Paris, France

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12. What The Wreck? — Stan Stewart — Ithaca, New York, USA

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13. Poor You, Part Two — Jinxbox — Middlebury, Vermont, USA

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14. Centipede – EP — Blooming Fire — Los Angeles, California, USA

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15. The Candleman and the Curtain — The Earth and I — Warwick, New York, USA

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16. Everyone I’ve Ever LovedValleyheart — Salem, Massachusetts, USA

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17. Kingdoms — Coopertheband — Nashville, Tennessee, USA

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18. Self Titled — Alias May — Melbourne, Australia

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19. Make My Millennium — Resident One — Atlanta, Georgia, USA

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20. FunnySexyCoolHollywood Horses — Birmingham, Alabama, USA

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21. .ghostworld – EP — .ghostworld — Singapore, Singapore

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22. Heaven and Her Demons — BlackBeak — Johannesburg, South Africa

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23. Wherever That IsPanhandler — Stockholm, Sweden

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24. White Roses EP — Dream Chambers — Nashville, Tennessee, USA

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25. Soul Transfer — Emphasis — Tallin, Estonia

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26. Westline Drive EP — Westline Drive — San Francisco, California, USA

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27. EP — Lampion — Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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28. Salvation — The Penske File — Burlington, Ontario, Canada

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29. Hypnotizing Euphoria — The Who Was Phone — Zurich, Switzerland

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30. Bridges – EP — For The Fire — Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

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31. Disposition — Young Animals — St. Louis, Missouri, USA

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32. Glow In The Dark — Rachel Rose Mitchell — Melbourne, Australia

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33. Dear Beer — The Bombpops — Los Angeles, California, USA

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34. Aftermind — HighView — Canberra, Australia

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35. It’s History, It’s Poetry — Detour North — Chicago, Illinois, USA

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36. Voices in My Head — Failing Up — Los Angeles, California, USA

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37. Omega — Shades of Dissonance — Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

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38. From the Wild Sky — Halie Loren — Eugene, Oregon, USA

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39. Up in Roses — Fever — Portland, Oregon, USA

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40. Passing Years — Looking For Alaska — Regensburg, Germany

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41. Desire Paths — Turnspit — Chicago, Illinois, USA

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42. Absolution EP — Keating — Columbus, Ohio, USA

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43. The Fallen King — Frozen Crown — Milan, Italy

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44. Heartwoken EP — The Revies — Los Angeles, California, USA

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45. Amnesiatic — ODD ROBOT — Fullerton, California, USA

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46. Everything Is Temporary — Between You & Me — Melbourne, Australia

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47. Duoyu — Duoyu — Athens, Greece

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48. Six People in a Dream — Baronaqua — Melbourne, Australia

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49. Hometown Static — Second Street — Kansas City, Missouri, USA

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50. Happy Thoughts — Midfield — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

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51. Becoming a Ghost — Becoming a Ghost — Troy, New York, USA

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52. BedtimePawn Pawn — Toledo, Ohio, USA

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53. Alliance — We Call The Shots — Phoenix, Arizona, USA

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54. Mother’s Keeper — Mother’s Keeper — Birmingham, Alabama, USA

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55. Is an EP — THIS — Buffalo, New York, USA

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56. Distraction EP — Paper Citizen — Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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57. Nostalgia — deerfield. — Syracuse, New York, USA

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58. Street Talk — Big White — Sydney, Australia

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59. For Me This Time — Analog Heart — Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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60. While We DreamLights & Motion — Gothenburg, Sweden

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61. Raw SugarL’Absence — Zaragoza, Spain

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62. TamelessBuffalo Rampage — Moscow, Russia

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63. Never Asked for It EPSorry, Scout — St. Louis, Missouri, USA

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64. Old SoulSharp Sleeves — Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

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65. Aspire — VENUES — Stuttgart, Germany

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66. From Blue to BoneMama Doom — Poughkeepsie, New York, USA

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67. Heart Whispers (EP) — Grace & the Midnight Angel — Clovis, California, USA

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68. Cirque Du SkankSkunk Funk — American Canyon, California, USA

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69. Spring Silver EP — Spring Silver — Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

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70. The View From HereStealing Home — Concord, California, USA

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71. Weird’N’ConfusedAppocaloosers — Madrid, Spain

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72. InceptionWallbangers — Nantes, France

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73. Wanderlust EPGrowling Rabbit — Minsk, Belarus

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74. Paper SaintsPaper Saints — Dallas, Texas, USA

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75. Spinneret EPJEM — Singapore, Singapore

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76. Cashmore DemosCashmore — Brisbane, Australia

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77. DakotaGo Murphy — Fargo, North Dakota, USA

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78. Categories of ColourEither/Or — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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79. FacadeBoxford — Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA

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80. Casual CornerBlesst Chest — Portland, Oregon, USA

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81. Paper HeartsThe Brothers Union — Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA

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82. New RuinsCandace — Portland, Oregon, USA

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83. Growing PainEnvious View — Springfield, Missouri, USA

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84. Hangin’ On!The Glycereens — Brisbane, Australia

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85. Digital EPAnemoria — Fullerton, California, USA

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86. AgonizeSever The Ear — Gwangju, South Korea

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87. Laugh It Off!Domino & the Derelicts — San Jose, California, USA

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88. Glass BonesWolvesMouth — Voorhees, New Jersey, USA

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89. AshesLed By Lanterns — Birmingham, England, UK

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90. A Quiet Riot Vol. 1We Are Riot — Bremen, Germany

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91. Membership DuesSad Girlz Club — San Francisco, California, USA

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92. Broken CodesIn Parallel — Nashville, Tennessee, USA

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93. The Deep Sleep — Unveil — Sherebrooke, Quebec, Canada

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94. The NexstoneThe Nexstone — Kramatorsk, Ukraine

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95. Comfort Zone — Superhaunted — Miami, Florida, USA

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96. Fault Lines EPAeve Ribbons — Manchester, England, UK

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97. Visions EP — Noise Maze — Udine, Italy

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98.The Outer Space (EP)Fallcie — Saint Petersburg, Russia

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99. JarenJenn’s Apartment — Lansing, Michigan, USA

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100. Nothing LeftMy Favorite Fault — Moscow, Russia

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***

If you enjoyed this please share, and feel free to Tweet me. Let’s talk music and tech!

Unbundled, Part III: Democratizing the Future

Why democratization and identity are the future of music.

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This is the final entry in the Unbundled series on music dynamics. Read the previously published pieces here:


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Power, Gatekeeping, Scarcity, and Democratization

Which brings us back to the last step in the cycle: unbundled once again. Only this time, the unbundled dynamic refers to power and ownership. The new unbundled form of power—referenced above—removes the focus of power from the major labels and fractures it, splintering it to varying degrees among the plethora of new artists and startups now emerging.

This is the best thing that could happen because it leads to a more stabilized version of meritocracy in music. The top-heavy, unbalanced paradigm of major label control over everything that a fan is exposed to is ending, and being replaced with a much murkier—but more expansive—reality. This in turn affects scarcity and gatekeeping on a massive level.

Scarcity is obsolete; democratization wins.

Ownership

Perhaps the most prickly point here is the concept of ownership in the new age. This is a contentious topic even among friends, and no one really knows what the landscape is going to look like in the next few years. What can be surmised, however, is that concepts of ownership of musical material are evolving. Sampling and other trends in electronic and DJ music, along with self-recording and independent releases, have muddied the waters of who owns what and to what extent.

Now the action of covering or remixing someone else’s song and posting it online bristles feathers. But (most) artists who do this also attribute the proper credits to the original artist(s)—many times in the cover or remix’s title—simply because it’s the right thing to do and because it helps them to disseminate their new version.

Asserting that cover songs and remixes hurt the original artist is a cloudy and jaded argument at best.

Yet, the argument can be made that with this new overhaul in ownership orthodoxy, perhaps the right people are now able to own the things they should have been able to all along. Let us not forget the reality of master tapes (where a record label owns the rights to an artist’s original recordings) which so many artists have regretted. Controlling one’s own material, and deciding what to do with it, are the ultimate power plays an artist can make. Appealing to this new sense of power is the best avenue for emerging music startups to make.

Such a concept is fairly reminiscent of points made by bitcoin enthusiasts, wherein a control-dynamic is illustrated. Controlling access to the material—in this case, bitcoin—is the ultimate power, and any major purchaser can go directly to a bitcoin supplier (i.e. miner) and negotiate significant discounts for their volume of purchase.

In this scenario, the music fan is the purchaser, the artist is the bitcoin miner, and the service that serves as a conduit between the two is better off appealing to and providing value to the artist rather than only the fan. Both are important, but the latter controls the material which the former wants to consume.

Money and Community

One of the loudest major factors that floats around is the argument over money, from streaming, downloading, merch sales, ticket sales, etc. Let’s be clear though: streaming and downloading—the purchase of musical material—is not where the real money is for artists. It never has been. The money has always been in the merchandise and live ticket sales. What does this mean nowadays? Community.

While it is certainly arguable and many times probable that new unbundling dynamics have struck at artists’ ability to make money from the sale of their music, it is equally arguable that it has enabled them to make money from other, more lucrative, avenues.

An artist can only sell a $10 album so many times (unless you’re a major label darling). Their real bread and butter is in their community cultivation: growing their base, getting people to come out, getting people to spread their music and message, and capitalizing on those efforts. Streaming and downloading revenue is at best a holdover until a better stream is tapped.

The dynamics that exist now in this new unbundled world provide new opportunities for artists. Now, they don’t need to make their money off music sales or streams. Enough access to fans and communication/funding tools exist that they can actually give their music away for free and turn a profit somewhere else.

And this is exactly what a growing number of artists are choosing to do.

The dissemination of their material onto a global stage is much more important than a few album sales here or there, and leads to better things on the other side. A more expansive universe brings more shows, more exposure, more true fans, and more branding opportunities. These are the real things that grant artists staying power.

The Expansive Powers of Identity

Lastly, there is identity. I examined in a previous piece how we’re seeing the rise of “identity platforms” in media. Music is no exception to this. In fact, it might be the shining example of it.

Identity gives music—and by extension all art—certain powers that contribute staying power. Identity is so powerful precisely because it exists independently of genre, mainstream recognition, money, or history; it’s unique in it’s own ability to build bridges where previously there were none. Regarding music, identity brings together people on a core level that can almost supersede differences they might otherwise have.

The power identity—especially in relation to art and music—in its potential to create ever-expanding identities—to create communities. Money is certainly a factor in this, but if a shared identity which draws people towards one another, and can shield them—for better or worse—from outside forces seeking to compromise that unique, collective identity. As music is given the ability to disseminate more and more, more communities will arise around newly-minted identities, and art as a whole will become more lush and layered.

In the wake of these trends in art, music, and media, the power will lay with companies and platforms to not only cultivate these newly emerging identities, but to provide fertile ground for even more embryonic ones. Music becomes a vessel for the expansion of art and identity.

The Upswing

Where does this leave us? In unchartered territory to start with. Artists will continue to grow their power as new technologies make the opportunities possible. The companies which see this trend and capitalize on it will be the ones to stick around and do well. The others, however, who are resistant to this new set of events, will find it challenging to court artists and acquire material if they are determined to hold fast to a paradigm that was beneficial mostly to the major record labels.

Independents artists, and consumers of all strata (not merely the mainstream), will not be ignored or marginalized anymore. They will continue to experiment with the bundling/unbundling process until they find the right fit for themselves, and for their careers. There will be less of a set standard that all need to conform to, and more of a flexible set of possibilities and avenues for people to mix and match to reflect their changing personal experiences.

The future of music is three things: freedom, community, and democratization.

***

Find me on Twitter @adammarx13 and let’s talk music, tech, and business!

What I’ve Learned from Chris Sacca: Value, Empathy, and People

TL;DR: Life is all about relationships. A reflection on how Chris Sacca’s notions of value and relationships have shaped my views on business and people.

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I was debating whether or not to write this a post under the Minimum Viable Network banner, but in the end it seemed that it was better as a stand-alone thought process. Frankly, I was going to save the whole reflection for another time, but sometimes when you have to write it out, nothing else suffices.

Creative Minds

No doubt that most of the tech and VC world is talking about Chris Sacca’s retirement from VC today. And while I won’t pretend I saw it coming, I also can’t say that I’m 100% surprised by it. Growing up, working, and socializing among artists and creative individuals, one thing I’ve come to accept as true is that truly innovative minds become restless and constantly seek new adventures and challenges.

In my time identifying as a writer, poet, journalist, painter, artist, founder, I’ve heard people who don’t quite understand the pull describe it as “lack of focus” or “a desire for obstacles over happiness.” But that cheapens the real feeling that we contend with; it’s not about lacking focus or not wanting to be happy. Just the opposite—it’s about finding happiness and meaning in new adventures and letting those new teachings sharpen our focus and perspective on life.

I’ve had the unique opportunity of speaking to Sacca just once, and in that short exchange, I saw in him what I’ve described above. And it made me want to get to know him even more.

There’s a myth popularized by artist biopics that truly creative people prize art/winning/results above all else, especially relationships with others. Sacca proves that to be dead wrong. In so many ways, the greatest creators and innovators were great because of the relationships they cultivated, most times with oft forgotten people in the background. Van Gogh had his brother Theo to support him and keep him (mostly) sane, Jim Morrison had his long-time companion  Pamela Courson, and in many ways Steve Jobs had Wozniak (certainly not forgotten) to keep him balanced for a time.

Relationships don’t distract from incredible achievements; they are what make those achievements possible.

Relationships Define People

So what does any of this have to do with Sacca? Everything.

My first thought reading Sacca’s retirement post wasn’t “oh no, but I wanted Lowercase to fund my next company,” or “but why walk away, you’re winning.”

It’s simply: “Money or no money, I still want to know Sacca because of the things he’s espoused over the last few years which have shaped my perspective in tech and business, as well as life.”

I’m more grateful to Erik Torenberg and Product Hunt than I could even say for facilitating the aforementioned encounter. In life, sometimes the most transformative experiences can come from the most serendipitous opportunities, and that was certainly true here. (A full reflection on this experience for the Minimum Viable Network is forthcoming when the time is right.)

So why has listening to Sacca and reading his posts been “so transformative?” Because his notion of creating value for others before asking for yourself, prizing empathy, and networking through conviction have become central tenets to how I think.

Core Tenets

In creating the idea of the Minimum Viable Network, so much is centered around the concept of creating value for others, cultivating deep relationships through empathy, acting as a support network when your friends and allies need you, and projecting magnetic positivity and opportunity. When I talk to artists, I tell them to go out and project a powerful, positive persona—that’s what attracts people. In helping a good friend of mine prepare for a lecture on ethics at Syracuse University (happening tonight!), I told him to emphasize empathy, and that power will come from a conviction for honest networking.

To other founders who now tweet me and ask how to get into tech and startups (why they tweet me is still a mystery haha), I say simply: Go and create ridiculous amounts of value for other people; don’t worry about “getting your’s” right now.

Karma comes around when the time is right. Focus on making yourself so magnetic to others that they can’t not know you.

I’m Richer for Seeing Life Through Relationships with People

I’m in so many ways richer for shaping my perspective on life around these core ideas. I’ve had the good fortune of building an incredible network of friends and allies, seemingly through just running my mouth and doing things for other people. The irony? It was never a “strategy” I was employing—creating value for others to create value for myself. It was—and is—simply doing things for others because I can, and because I want to. But like I said, karma has a funny way of keeping track.

So at the end of all of this, where am I?

Still positive, still excited, and still looking forward to my first coffee with Sacca, whenever that might be. In tech as in music, everyone seems to know everyone, and reputation is everything. So I have total faith that people who endeavor to help others will see their paths cross at some point. Until then, I’ll keep learning, keep building, keep creating value, and keep empathizing with others.

Life is relationships. And relationships happen at the most serendipitous of times.

***

Find me on Twitter @adammarx13 and let’s talk music, tech, and business.

Unbundled, Part II: Shifting the Paradigm

How a new music paradigm is rising out of the wreckage.

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This is a continuation of the Unbundled series on music dynamics. Read the previously published pieces here:


The second act in the “bundled/unbundled” production is the “bundled” piece. It’s about exploring the bundling process as it pertains to music, and really trying to determine the proper scope of examination. Said scope, when broadened enough, shows a shifting paradigm of power and perception rising out of the wreckage of the previous music landscape. It’s similarly divided into three parts:

  1. Bundled in the Wrong Way
  2. Power and Paradigm Shift
  3. Sexy vs. Unsexy

The first of these is an exploration of what types of bundling already exist, and how it might not be the right kind of bundling to pursue. The nature of peoples’ interaction with music has changed, so it follows that the things bundled in music should change as well. This is a particularly difficult thing to accept because it requires a reworking of thought regarding something already perceived as “done.”

The second part is a discussion of how power naturally shifts during these seismic events, and how the new power should be held by a previously dismissed faction: the artists.

This flows right into the last part, which is an exploration of how many of the things which should be considered and bundled may not be the “sexiest” or most exciting of things to include. But “sexiness” and utility don’t always go hand-in-hand, and reality prevails at some point.

BUNDLED

Bundled in the Wrong Way

This is the biggy. Inasmuch as many things in the music universe(s) have become unbundled, so too are there a variety of things that have also become bundled. In the light of all the unbundling going on (Chris Saad blew through an extensive example list from everything including music and news to relationships and war), it appears somewhat unsexy to talk about the things going through the bundling process.

Where unbundling is fast and sexy and simple, bundling appears slow and outdated. But in music at least, this is far too simple an assessment.

The reality is that there are many things in music that have always been bundled, but bundled in such a way that they appeared to be unbundled. Many of the things which “music” apps are now trying to tackle separately—distribution, marketing, social, ticketing, analytics, messaging and/or communication, and live booking—have always been bundled under the banner of the record label.

The label controlled virtually everything, from distribution and radio play (yes, payola is real) to marketing and fan engagement. If you wanted to exist as an artist, you needed to be a part of this world in some way. Otherwise, you were relegated to the “independent” pile, which in the years prior to 1991, was much less glamorous than it is now.

Power and Paradigm Shift

When the digital age hit, the unbundling of the record labels’ power began. Since around 2005, major label power has seeped, and independent power has reached new heights. However, in their new-found power, independents were also sold a myth that everything they needed could be solved by partaking in a variety of unbundled services, from analytics to social platforms.

What this myth fails to address though, is the massive time-suck it really promotes. There are a great many things that should be bundled. Things like analytics, ticketing, distribution, radio play, social engagement, community, and marketing should all be offered under the same banner of a startup or new company.

But—and this is so important—done so in a way where the artists retain their power.

Sexy vs. Unsexy

The unbundling that has occurred has amazingly and unexpectedly taken much of the power away from the labels and delivered it to the artists. Artists now have the ability to control nearly every aspect of their operation, from recording through distribution through community engagement. But they don’t really have it all in one place, for free (yes this is huge), with the level of choice they need.

They have a variety of music discovery sites to choose from, a variety of analytics engines to use, and a variety of social platforms to post on, among other things. This is too much, and simplification is necessary. A music company should offer all of these types of functions under its purview, wherein artists can then choose to use them—or not—as they like. Choice and freedom remain intact while efficiency and simplicity are underscored.

But why stop there? Why not tackle the unsexy things that major labels have always done and give that power back to the artists as well?

Have a company that encompasses all the functions above, and then add (fan-driven) radio play, legal information and resources, management, copyright, and informational context. In making the experience of one site all-encompassing, you then succeed in changing the artists’ paradigm, thus changing the music landscape.

Giving artists access to these “unsexy” things is just as easy as (easier actually than) giving fans access to the music they want to hear.

The only difference is that instead of focusing on half of the equation, you instead complete the circle, and do so independently of the former rigid structure.


The Power of Knowledge

Whereas the points of the previous piece—choice and format—led to the overarching concept of community, the three points here point to something different, but equally important: knowledge.

If knowledge is power, then bundling things in a new way to give artists access to more knowledge clearly translates to a shift of power in their direction. This upends the previous paradigm immensely.

As artists gain perspective and knowledge on things like music analytics, marketing strategies, and engagement statistics—as well as “unsexy” things like legal resources and contacts—the power shifts significantly away from the major record companies. Their power has always been cemented in two main things: money and knowledge. But once artists and creators have access to the second of these two things (knowledge), they can apply it flexibly to attain the first of these two things (money).

This creates major fissures in the current music landscape, and opens up a splintering ecosystem of new opportunities for creatives at all levels of music creation and engagement.


The next movement in the symphony will be Part III: Democratizing the Future, which will take a look again at a new unbundled dynamic. Concepts discussed will touch on how the new unbundling will change music ownership and identity.

Stay tuned!


Find me on Twitter @adammarx13 and let’s talk music, tech, and business!

Unbundled, Part I: Reformatting the Barriers

How unwrapping the previous barriers is changing music.

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This is a continuation of the Unbundled series on music dynamics. Read the previously published piece here:


The first movement in this symphony is the “unbundled” piece. It’s all about “reformatting” the conceptual barriers that initially existed for decades. It’s divided into two parts: Choice and Format.

The former is an exploration of how choice has evolved with the changing technology, and how it’s taken on a power it previously lacked. The latter, however, discusses how new formats have changed music and broken down barriers which artists historically were—most times—unable to scale. Similarly, it’s given light and life to format types which for decades have been ignored by the broad base of music consumers, except perhaps for the most die-hard fans.

unbundled

Choice

The first and most obvious form of unbundling in the music industry is the industry itself; no longer is there simply one music industry to partake in.

Now there are multiple, and they exist as completely separate universes; the major label mainstream, the exponentially growing independent industry, and everything in between. Along with this kind of unbundling of different musical arenas comes a freedom for music fans to explore in new ways.

Where non-mainstream fans were once relegated to shoddy mixtapes and bare-bones independent releases (which many times meant lower quality), now they have a plethora of music sources to choose from, as do all music listeners.

This leads to a level of choice the likes of which has never been seen in music. Now, it’s realistically possible to exist as a music fan outside the mainstream in a holistic way. You’re able to not only find the music that you like, and which speaks to you, but are similarly able to take advantage of growing communities of people like yourself. With the free access to all this new material comes access to other like-minded people.

This is community.

Chris Saad pointed to two distinct contributing factors which have lead us in this direction:

  • Reducing the cost of inventory and discovery to, in many cases, zero or near zero
  • Reducing the cost of direct communication and orchestration with more people at once—bypassing the need for manual mediators/editors/orchestrators/curators

Format

Saad’s post also mentioned this within the scope of musical format. What was once a record and CD has now become digital information, thus with more power to disseminate. Even the album format itself is restructuring, as fans looking for a single-song experience are abandoning the long form in favor of something musically shorter.

But this has a swing dynamic as well; while some argue that the album format is dying (or is already dead), many see the opposite.

The unbundling of the album format has actually given it more power than it had before. Now, when an artist chooses to create a full album, a fan knows that there is an artistic meaning behind that, rather than a record label’s fiscal bottom line.

It also lends long-overdue validation to releases that fall in between singles and full albums. EP’s and double-sides have long been ignored by most but the hardcore fans. Now, however, they exist with the same legitimacy as their gaunter and fuller peers.

The Ironic Thing

The ironic thing about these two points—choice and format—is that they’re inherently about one overarching concept: community.

As choice expands and begins to encompass formerly ignored genres and artists, new communities have the ability to coalesce and thrive. Choice isn’t merely about having new material for already established communities to engage in; alternatively, it can lead to a mixing of communities that otherwise might not happen.

Punks and jazz fans may begin to mix over a new punk-jazz fusion genre, and people who otherwise would never have met one another can now suddenly exist alongside each other. This leads to an increased level of creativity and an exponential production of creative material.

And this material is further disseminated throughout communities—splintering them and rebonding them—through new formats of information technology. Communities cease to be rigid and orthodox in their functionality towards music and instead become more elastic—they become living, breathing things which grow and continue to evolve.

This is the unbundling process within music as it should be: an unwrapping of previously rigid dynamics that lends more flexibility and power to the overall process of community cultivation.


The next movement in the symphony will be Part II: Shifting the Paradigm, which will take a look at the BUNDLED dynamic. Concepts discussed will touch on how bundling — but doing so incorrectly in the new era — impacts music consumption and community cultivation.

Stay tuned!


Find me on Twitter @adammarx13 and let’s talk music, tech, and business!

Unbundled: Introduction to the Bundle

Why the unbundling of the music universe matters.

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In recent years, the dynamics of bundling and unbundling have changed everything in media. But they’ve had an especially palpable effect on music.

This is an exploration of the bundling and unbundling dynamics taking place in the music universe right now. Because of the massive amount of information discussed herein, it is necessary to cover it in series of parts, each explaining a particular aspect of change and restructuring.

This series will appear as the following:

  • Introduction to the Bundle
  • Part I: Reformatting the Barriers
  • Part II: Shifting the Paradigm
  • Part III: Democratizing the Future

Additionally, all four pieces (including the introduction) will subsequently appear as a single, holistic text, entitled: Unbundled: The Story of Music.

This is the first entry in the story.

A New Emerging Dichotomy of Freedom and Reach

A few months ago, Chris Saad penned an article on the dynamics of bundling, and how they’re affecting a number of fields. In his piece, Saad addressed how concepts of bundling are impacting areas of creativity like art and music, among others. Ironically, it had a similar air to Joshua Topolsky’s earlier article on media companies, which itself prompted my response on music-startup realities.

Such examples were only briefly mentioned, but one can go deeper on them, particularly in the way of music. Things are happening now to the age-old structure of music that arguably haven’t changed for the better part of five or six decades. And even that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Part of what was so intriguing about Saad’s examination of these morphing areas is just how much change is going on which is not being discussed. In many ways, Saad’s piece shines a light not only on the changing bundling and unbundling dynamics taking place in music, but how these two different forms—yin and yang—are interacting with one another to shape a new musical landscape. What we see is an emerging dichotomy of freedom and reach that we haven’t seen in quite a while.

Three Trends in a Specific Order

Within the context of music, three trends—unbundling, bundling, and unbundling again—matter. And they matter in that sequence. This is so because each (un)bundling action touches a different area of the music arena, and thus their interaction together forms a new paradigm.

They lay out as follows:

unbundled

Covered in Part I, Reformatting the Barriers

  1. Choice
  2. Format

BUNDLED

Covered in Part II, Shifting the Paradigm

  1. Bundled in the Wrong Way
  2. Power and Paradigm Shift
  3. Sexy vs. Unsexy

unbundled

Covered in Part III, Democratizing the Future

  1. Power, Gatekeeping, Scarcity, and Democratization
  2. Ownership
  3. Money and Community
  4. The Expansive Powers of Identity

The music industry, like all other forms of media, is undergoing such a massive tectonic shift that we’re only beginning to now see how big the fissures are. The most interesting thing will be how these changing power paradigms affect the music coming out, and the communities which are built around the material.

Stay tuned!


Find me on Twitter @adammarx13 and let’s talk music, tech, and business!

100 Awesome Independent Album and EP Releases You Probably Missed in 2016

It’s that time of the year again — when all those “Best of…” lists come out telling us the supposed cream-of-the-crop releases in music. And as happens every year, they skate right over the slew of amazing independent releases that dropped into our lives.

Last year, I drew up a list of 100 independent albums you probably missed in 2015. Now it’s time to do the same for 2016.

In the interest of fairness, it’s important to note that most of these releases simply follow my personal taste in music genre-wise; they certainly don’t encompass all the amazing independent albums that came out this year in jazz, EDM, rap, classical, or other styles.

As with last year’s list, these 100 albums and EP’s come from artists all over the world. This year’s list has artists from: Canada, the U.K., France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, China, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Belarus, Germany, Israel, China, Mexico, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and from 20 different U.S. states. That’s how big the independent universe is, regardless of genre.

So here are just 100 of the albums and EP’s that you probably missed in 2016. All were released during the 2016 calendar year, so this gives you an idea of just how small a window into the music world the mainstream actually cuts. As always, albums are in no particular order. Do yourself a favor and go expand your universe. You’d be shocked at what you discover.

  1. Forget About ItIt’s Butter – Los Angeles, California, USAa1993529676_16
  2. I Talk to StrangersI Talk to Strangers – London, England, UKa0865780043_16-1
  3. The Centauri Conspiracies: Part 1 — The AwakeningSunshine & Bullets — Tampa, Florida, USA
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  4. Colours Chelsea Shag — Atlanta, Georgia, USA600x600bb
  5. Good DaysSkyline — Austin, Texas, USAa0007603069_10
  6. Muster PointJeeps — London, England, UKa3598822201_16
  7. ScarsForever Still — Copenhagen, Denmark12
  8. Body WarsJune Divided — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USAjune-divided-body-wars-ep
  9. Silent ElephantSilent Elephant — Lille, Francea2226111291_16
  10. The Parts We SaveHeel — London, England, UK
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  11. Breaking FreeA Truth Divides — Fall River, Massachusetts, USAa1106324655_10
  12. EmergenceHour 24 — Temperance, Michigan, USA4a92d0_efe37ce2146445358c6a8af10e5ef140.png
  13. Hardly Loaded EPPhantomHead — Lynchburg, Virginia, USAa2643529918_16-1
  14. Tough LoveBloody Diamonds — Toronto, Ontario, Canada13308599_990879211032274_8926664851863017403_o
  15. A Moment of SilenceThe Funeral Portrait — Atlanta, Georgia, USA14563572_1125466497544768_7992703852251309118_n
  16. EpicentreBouquet of Dead Crows — London, England, UKa0429878601_10
  17. She SpeaksShe Speaks — Kildare, Irelanda2252113179_16
  18. WandererRed Handed Denial — Toronto, Ontario, Canada12799213_10153426011084071_1317740590743645433_n
  19. Dark NarrowsLights That Change — Flintshire, Wales, UKa2142808787_16
  20. The ReIntroductionAlmost Kings — Atlanta, Georgia, USA0006541155_10
  21. BlackSuan — Athy, Irelanda0731599391_16
  22. Mean SomethingKinder Than Wolves — Orlando, Florida, USAa3400336724_16
  23. For Your ObliterationThe Dead Deads — Nashville, Tennessee, USAa0316039504_10
  24. No Mirror / Baby StepsBirdeatsbaby — Brighton, England, UKa2859507464_16
  25. Screech BatsScreech Bats — London, England, UK12764898_977824338969132_6112466179685560664_o
  26. Five KitesFive Kites — Uckfield, England, UKa3539413199_16
  27. Pow WowRed Apple — Madrid, Spaina0626135829_16
  28. HoopdriverHoopdriver — London, England, UKa1149210371_16
  29. The Mud Lords EPThe Mud Lords — San Francisco, California, USAa2762874709_16
  30. StonesCherry Water — Wilmington, North Carolina, USAa2364345222_16
  31. Please Welcome Imperial JadeImperial Jade — Barcelona, Spaina4135821107_16
  32. From The CaveFrom The Cave — London, England, UKa0846461208_16
  33. Imminent for Your InterestsPeople Like Us. — Los Angeles, California, USAAlbum Art rough
  34. Otra Vez ISidewatcher — Detroit, Michigan, USAa0310545470_16
  35. EraserheadEraserhead — Aurora, Illinois, USAa0142508800_16
  36. AlterhoodAlterhood — Tel-Aviv, Israela3217298871_16
  37. Eugenia EPDarla and the Blonde — London, England, UKa2573911246_16
  38. Cosmophonie EPCosmophone — Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canadaa1977159592_16
  39. Hit the AirBasic Land — Monterrey, Mexicoa2682732415_16
  40. Born to DancePürple — Brighton, England, UKa2572290725_16
  41. Double A-SideThe Mis-Made — Sydney, Australiaa0839401698_16
  42. Refuse to Shine EPMr.Mountain — Portsmouth, England, UKa1375774276_16
  43. Gaining PerspectiveGlory Days — Brisbane, Australiaa3697331310_16
  44. The Sky, the Lie, and Who We Are Before We Die — True North — Los Angeles, California, USAa1878484356_10
  45. Luxury EPPatio — New York City, New York, USAa1711486514_16
  46. PhantasmagoriaWhite Claudia — Chicago, Illinois, USAa0392641707_16
  47. Cruise DealMirror Travel — Austin, Texas, USAa0016514373_16
  48. Call Me by NameGood Fiction — Albany, New York, USAa1006386476_16-1.jpg
  49. BipolarKreepy Krush — Minsk, Belarusa3570746258_16
  50. Good HangsLauren Patti — New Jersey, USAa3026102687_16
  51. Copper CrownCopper Crown — Toronto, Ontario, Canadaa0415375489_16
  52. Cuatro —  Tranparentes — Alicante, Spaina0741328815_16
  53. It’s Too Bright InsideLush Vibes — Vallejo, California, USAa1998902662_16
  54. Ropes EndRopes End — New York City, New York, USAa3134658973_16
  55. Only RosesCarissa Johnson — Boston, Massachusetts, USAa2929911764_16
  56. Theories of the UniverseHaunted Ghost Town — Sunnyvale, California, USAa2755326863_16
  57. Soft Grudge — Mulligrub — Winnipeg, Manitoba, CanadaMulligrub-Soft-Grudge--640x640
  58. Dirty LyxxDirty Lyxx — Boston, Massachusetts, USAa2040502891_16
  59. StagesKopacetic — Shreveport, Louisiana, USAa2728269849_16
  60. Much Love — Microwave — Atlanta, Georgia, USAa1730261151_10
  61. MetadonnaMetadonna — Valencia, Spaina0150878033_16
  62. Break Down the WallsBreak Down the Walls — Hawthorne, New York, USAa1176554633_16
  63. Stuff EPMy Cruel Goro — Icelanda2414949285_16
  64. ShadowboxVivienne the Witch — Perugia, Italya3238750359_16
  65. In the Arms of the SunVox Vocis — Phoenix, Arizona, USAa2512338494_16
  66. DiscourseSex With Strangers — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canadaa2127562643_16
  67. Sleep Tight, When You Wake Up We’ll Be GoneThe Few. — St. Louis, Missouri, USAa2511948533_16
  68. Harmony and DisconnectRising Down — Tampa, Florida, USAa2963571272_16
  69. VectorsYeah Sure Whatever — Marin, California, USAa1649515922_16
  70. DEVILTRAINDEVILTRAIN — Bamberg, Germanya1542791299_16
  71. Buried in the SoundLost Frontiers — Pomona, California, USAa3721344826_16
  72. Nosebleed WeekendThe Coathangers — Atlanta, Georgia, USAThe-Coathangers-Nosebleed-Weekend
  73. The Eternal SeaThe Eternal Sea — Tauranga, New Zealanda2466588262_16
  74. Traces EPTraces — Phoenix, Arizona, USAa2543588091_16
  75. Elevation —  We Are The Catalyst — Gothenburg, Swedena2368062794_16
  76. MABON SONGSCrypt Trip — San Marcos, Texas, USAa0313274180_16
  77. Angel — Heroes — Los Angeles, California, USAa4173242852_16
  78. Swan Valley Heights — Swan Valley Heights — Munich, Germanya0676605006_16
  79. Abandoned — Counter Theory — Valparaiso, Indiana, USAa0689683623_16
  80. AntsAnts — Rivergaro, Italya1366200431_16
  81. The Journey (EP)Rusty Joe — Casais, Portugala3938316616_16
  82. SpectraMyrrias — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USAa1053203725_16
  83. Dimensionauts EPRobot Jurassic — Edgewater, Maryland, USAa1323032774_16
  84. BelieverWeird Neighbours — Sarnia, Ontario, Canadaa0850762461_16
  85. Hell Is Not Other People, It’s YouThe Republic of Trees — Scarborough, England, UKa3751139773_16
  86. The LippiesThe Lippies — Grand Rapids, Michigan, USAa0852829300_16
  87. Far Away, As We Fade —  AggronympH — Yichang, Chinaa3169651902_16
  88. The DepartedSummer Drive Home — Weymouth, England, UKa0290939636_16
  89. Mix TapeThe Hang Lows — Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USAa0584312114_16
  90. SweetMeatThe BlackLava — Torino, Italya3220774202_16
  91. Singularity — Fight Like Sin — Lafayette, Indiana, USAa3594774885_16
  92. Chasing a PhantomChanging Scene — Bel Aton, Maryland, USAa1533314418_16
  93. Abandoned HomesThe Aesthetic — Seattle, Washington, USAa1922360043_16-1
  94. ConnectorFable Circuit — Shepherdstown, West Virginia, USAa3669455937_16
  95. InburnInburn — Illigan City, Phillipinesa2748366475_16
  96. The Lost Ones (EP)LUNGS — Sacramento, California, USAa2346140061_16
  97. AmbulanceThe Amazing — Stockholm, Swedena0811660077_16
  98. DetoxPyke — Arendal, Norwaya4237766781_16
  99. Start AgainThe Middle Ground — Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USAa3612480243_16
  100. Valley Queen EPValley Queen — Los Angeles, California, USAa2154869007_16

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