All posts by Odette Jacquet

Understanding the difference between Brands and Members is crucial to getting the most out of AE. Keep reading to learn why!

What is a Member?

A new member is added to your dashboard every time someone signs into your website, signs up for your newsletter or enters into a contest using AE Connect.

Therefore, every person in your dashboard is a member.

Over time, AE collects relevant data about your members. This data grows as members engage in social media and connect more of their social media accounts (via social login).

The usefulness of AE depends on your members. You will be using your members as a jumping-off point for many of your business tasks, such as:

  • Using segments and groups of members. For example, you can use AE to find members who watch a lot of DIY videos and target them specifically.
  • Filtering members by specific types of data. One example of this is using AE to select your segment of members who have paid Spotify accounts.
  • Creating micro-targeted ad campaigns. For instance, you can create a new ad audience with members who haven’t listened to your artist’s new album yet.
  • Find your most engaged audience. Quickly sort your members to find those with the highest engagement score.
  • Select members who opt in to your brands’ email newsletter. You can import new subscribers from AE to Mailchimp or Salesforce.

tracking activity on social media with social listening software ae

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is a Brand?

A brand can be a property that you own (like your own coffee shop) or a property that belongs to a competitor (your worst enemy’s coffee shop).

You are in charge of adding applicable brands to your dashboard. It does not happen automatically.

So if you were a record label, your brands would be the artists under your label as well as anything else you want to keep track of. This could be similar artists under other labels, potential sponsors, etc.

Here’s where it gets a bit muddy.

AE tracks key behaviors that your members exhibit against the brands you’ve put into Appreciation Engine.

For example, each time a fan uses the artist’s primary hashtag, that action is stored in AE.

Having up-to-date and complete lists of brands makes a big difference in terms of the value of the data.

It's easy to track the brands you care about

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Practices for Adding Brands

We want you to get the most out of every brand that you add. Here are a few recommendations to keep in mind whenever you add a new brand:

  1. Create brands for properties that you do not own. Create brands for your competitors, potential sponsors, partners, or any other key brands that interest your business.
  2. Add as much detail as you can for each brand. The more detail we have around a brand, the deeper Appreciation Engine’s tracking can go. The deeper the tracking, the better your data will be.
  3. Double-check that all the information you’ve added is correct. You don’t want to be tracking the wrong brand or a meaningless typo.

Hopefully, you have a better idea now of the differences between brands and members.

The ball is in your court!

Sign into your account or get started today for free!

What is an API and, more importantly, why should you care? This article will help you to understand APIs and how AE uses them to make cool stuff happen!

How do APIs work?

API stands for Application Programming Interface.

In plain English, APIs are messengers that relay information back and forth between different applications and servers.

In fact, each time you type a URL into your web browser, you are using an API.

For example, when you visit www.spotify.com, a request goes out to Spotify’s server (a.k.a. where all the data that makes up Spotify lives).

You are basically saying in code, “Yoohoo! Show me the Spotify website please!”

Once your browser has received a response from the server, it can display the page.

In this scenario, your browser is using Spotify’s API to relay information from Spotify’s server.

So thanks to APIs, applications and platforms are able to communicate with other applications and platforms. Hello Internet!

This is huge because a lot of existing software and tools rely on API’s every day to do their jobs…including AE.

When you first signed up, you may have wondered “How is AE able to funnel such awesome and useful data into the dashboard?”

Well, let’s break it down.

Let’s say you have a website for one of your emerging artists. You learn about how AE works and decide to integrate it into your site’s newsletter sign-up form.

Now, when a fan signs up, AE starts to track their artist related activity online and across social media.

APIs actually sit behind this entire process.

In this case, the newsletter sign-up form is an API that connects your website to AE’s dashboard.

An example of AE’s social login

And if the fan signed-up using their Twitter login, another API is in charge of getting in touch with Twitter and requesting data about the user. APIs like this one continue to request data regularly, enabling AE to provide real-time data!

Basically, APIs allow AE to gather key customer insights and pass them safely and securely to your dashboard. (Want even more detail about this process? Nerd out here.)

When you sign up for AE, one of the first things you will do is create an application for each social sign-in option you want to offer.

But, don’t worry, it’s actually rather simple. Plus, we have tips and help docs to guide you every step of the way!

We hope APIs make a little more sense now.

Learn more about how to get AE set up.

Or, get started for free right now!

Every month at the AE offices, we choose our Pop Culture Picks. It could be an album, a band, a book, a movie, a TV show, a podcast, or anything else we enjoyed over the previous 30 days. Keep scrolling to find out what caught our attention this month!

Annabel's pop culture pick this month is the great british sewing bee
Annabel Youens, CMO and Co-founder

Annabel’s Pick

The Great British Sewing Bee 📺

In Short: Season 5 of the Great British Sewing Bee airs February 12th, 2019. Tune in for a good laugh and to learn more about the world of sewing!

If you read my Pop Culture Picks with any regularity you might pick up on a theme here: my love of British reality shows made by the BBC.

This year’s Bee has a new host, Joe Lycett, a British comedian. I’m not too familiar with him but was sent this clip (NSFW) – ha! Season 5 sees Joe in the sewing trenches with the contestants, while Patrick Grant and Esme Young circle the sewists like great white sharks, literally picking at their stitches. Patrick loves a well-made garment and Esme loves some flair – they are such a perfect pairing.

I started watching the series when I took up sewing, hoping to pick up tips. But in fact, the show has taught me much more about the history of fashion and why garments are constructed in certain ways. If you have any interest in clothing you’ll come away with an appreciation for a well-made garment and most likely look a little closer at the clothes you purchase. Better yet, try your hand at making your own!

Joe Lycett posted this Season 5 trailer on his Twitter. Give it a watch if you aren’t already convinced!

 

Jeff's pop culture pick for february is star trek discorvery
Jeff Mitchell, CTO and Co-founder

Jeff’s Pick

Star Trek Discovery 📺

TL;DR: Season 1 is great and Season 2 is even better! 

I believe I have watched every iteration of Star Trek: the original series, the animated series, TNG…the list goes on. I’ve read novels set in the Star Trek universe. I’ve even attended a sci-fi convention and asked a question to an Enterprise series actor during a panel.

So, now that my credentials have been established, I’ll provide my opinion on the latest series. I’m going to (try to) avoid major spoilers and focus on a high-level impression.

The first season introduces us to the starship Discovery and is set 10 years prior to “Star Trek: The Original Series.” The season covers the original Klingon war against the United Federation of Planets, with the Discovery being the most important weapon on the Federation’s side.

They definitely hit the ground running and I was a big fan of their nod to aspects of the original series, including the mirror universe, Harry Mudd of tribbles fame, Spock’s father Sarek, and more.

The entirety of the season covered a single story arc, with none of the self-contained episode format used in most of the other series. I did like the storyline and I really enjoy Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham. Each episode was fast-paced and fun; they are not afraid to surprise!

Some aspects bothered me a little. For one it was a bit darker than I anticipated, although I think we were introduced to the story at a dark time (The Klingon War). For another, there was very little focus on the crew other than the 4 or 5 main characters. I’m used to being introduced to the bridge crew over the initial season but the story format and pacing did not really allow that.

Lastly, it’s not really as much of a “kid’s show” as the other series, F-bombs are dropped fairly frequently. I find this a little sad because I was a kid who fell in love with Star Trek during after-school afternoons and weeknight “prime-time” TV. I imagine this series may be hard for some parents to share with their kids.

Having said all of the above, season 2 actually appears to have taken some of this on board. We have a far more positive captain as a role model, none other than Captain Pike of the Enterprise!  Although there is an overarching storyline again, this one looks like it will allow a bit more of the old school “away mission” type episodes. As a side effect of that, more time is being given to other members of the crew. We will also get to meet a young, pre-Kirk Spock.

I’m liking what I’m seeing in season 2 so far, it has all the aspects I liked from season 1 while addressing some of the issues.

Overall, I’m impressed with the quality of the show, and how fast the series has gotten up to speed. Something difficult to do in the post-20-something episode season era of the past.

There are already additional Star Trek projects in the works, such as a Patrick Stewart revisit of Picard and a Section 31 series. I’m all for it.

Some version of Star Trek has been there most of my life, so let’s keep it boldly going!

Jennifer’s Pick

Jenn's Pop Culture Pick is the album mint by alice merton
Jennifer Tigner, Intermediate Developer

Mint by Alice Merton 🎶

TL;DR: Alice Merton’s debut album shows off her strong voice and radio-friendly beats.

This month, Spotify recommended to me a new release which I ended up really enjoying. Alice Merton’s new pop album Mint brings great beats and catchy lyrics. Her voice is confident but not overpowering.

Her debut song, “No Roots,” was released in 2016 and the world loved its deep bass and emphasis on the chorus. The song made the charts all over the world before making its way to the US, where it reached Gold status.

Mint is quite radio-friendly, with each song sounding like it could be a mainstream hit. “2 Kids” is one of my favorite songs on the album, as is “Homesick”. I like how her lyrics are relatable and easy to sing along to (great for me as I sometimes I have trouble making out the words when people sing!).

The album does get a bit repetitive near the end – I can tell there’s room for growth, which will bode well for her next album!

Odette’s Pick

Odette's Pop Culture Pick is the beyond meat burger
Odette Jacquet, Precision Marketer

The Beyond Burger 🍔

What you need to know: The Beyond Burger is a delicious way to reduce your carbon footprint. Keep reading to learn more!

The new Canada Food Guide was quietly released last month. To the people’s surprise, there were some pretty radical changes from the 2007 version. Not only did they do away with the traditional food groups and serving sizes, the government highly emphasizes the consumption of fruits, veggies, and plant-based proteins (the “dairy food group” is completely gone!).

This huge shift in the food guide is just one part of a greater movement. Companies are getting crazy innovative to bring us food that satisfies our cravings while minimizing harm. Lab-grown tuna anyone? Or how about some eggless scramble? Nah, I’ll just stick with my non-dairy Ben & Jerry’s.

My pick isn’t about any of those tantalizing treats though. It’s about the Beyond Burger- an epic, plant-based alternative to the traditional hamburger. Using ingredients like pea protein, coconut oil, and beet juice extract, the resulting burger looks, cooks, and tastes” the same as a regular beef burger.

I tried a Beyond Burger for the first time a few months ago and was happily surprised. It was delicious and very, very convincing.

Caveat: I’ve been vegan for 5 years now, so I don’t think I’m a super trustworthy source. I actually find a lot of plant-based foods very similar to their animal alternatives. But a quick Google search will show you that I’m not the only one convinced by its meatiness!

Beyond Meat, the mad geniuses behind it all, state that it took them 7 years of prior research and testing before releasing the burger in 2013. They have now added Beyond Chicken, Beef, and Sausage to their line of meatless products. 

Other Cool Facts:

  • It is the first burger to be sold in the meat aisle at the supermarket in the US.
  • Tyson Foods, the largest animal agriculture corporation in the U.S., owns a 5% stake in the company.
  • When A&W Canada rolled out the Beyond Burger to chains nationwide in July 2018, it sold out completely in a matter of weeks!

The mission of Beyond Meat is to find a better way to feed the planet. They state on their website that “[b]y shifting from animal to plant-based meat, we can positively and significantly impact 4 growing issues attributed to livestock production and consumption: human health, climate change, natural resource depletion, and animal welfare.”

This claim is fully backed up by current science. If you want to learn more about the impact of animal agriculture but don’t like reading, check out the movie Cowspiracy (8.3/10 IMDB).

Economist and Forbes both declared 2019 year of the Vegan. I, for one, can’t wait to see even more food innovation in the next 11 months!

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Every month at the AE offices, we choose our Pop Culture Picks. It could be an album, a band, a book, a movie, a TV show, a podcast, or anything else we enjoyed over the previous 30 days. In this special edition, we bring back each of our favorite picks from 2018. This is your opportunity to get caught up before we start a fresh new year!

Annabel’s Pick

Annabell's pop culture pick for january
Annabel Youens, CMO and Co-founder

The Great Interior Design Challenge 📺

In short: If you like interior design, British accents, and contestants under pressure, this show should be your next Netflix binge.

When you’re jet-lagged and up at 1 am you want to find some “easy” watching. With great delight I opened up Netflix, after returning from Australia, to find a new season of The Great Interior Design Challenge was available. Oh, joyous day!

The British contestants get two days to complete massive room re-designs. That is not nearly enough time and Daniel and Sophie (judges extraordinaire) have very high standards. It’s stressful for the contestants but I find it incredibly relaxing to watch the old carpet being pulled back…will it be beautiful hardwood or plywood?

The British know how to do a reality show. It’s not focussed on the rivalry between the contestants (I’m looking at you American reality TV) but instead focuses on struggles the designer has to overcome. Grab a cup of tea and settle in for high design drama.

Read my original write-up to learn more!

Jennifer’s Pick

jenn's pop culture pick for january
Jennifer Tigner, Intermediate Developer

Dirty Computer  by Janelle Monáe 🎶

TL;DR: This album shows a true and rare talent. It’s worth taking the time to listen in full without distractions — it will enrich your day, I promise.

In this day and age, Janelle Monae is the hero we need. That’s why I chose this album as my pop culture pick of the year.

Her messages are about self-expression, freedom, and being treated well (re: equally). Her style is unique and speaks volumes. Most of all, I’ve loved listening to her for years now and the growth from her previous albums (which were also awesome) to this one is incredible.

Janelle is a true artist and I really enjoyed this album. I also saw her perform the album live in concert and it was the first time I thought to myself that I really should have splurged on seats closer to the stage!

Click here to read my original write-up.

Mike’s Pick

Mike's pop culture pick for january NOFX
Mike Penhall, Senior Developer

NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories by NOFX 📕

Long story short: It’s not for everyone, but if you’re a fan of the band or just great rock ‘n’ roll biographies in general, this is a must. 

I’ve been a fan of the punk rock band NOFX for a long time now — they’ve been around for over 30(!) years and I’ve been there for close to 20 of those. They’re still going strong, but given their DIY attitude and aversion to interviews, it’s been hard to piece together a history of the band until now.

Written on a chapter-by-chapter basis by current and former members of the band, this book tells their long and fascinating story in what many might consider disturbing detail: drummer Smelly’s battles with heroin addiction, singer Fat Mike’s weird sexual habits, and the band’s well-known enthusiasm for illegal substances all get written about here.

NOFX are one of my all time favorite bands so it’s great to see them finally getting some of the recognition they deserve after all these years. I’m also a sucker for music biographies and this is an excellent one!

Odette’s Pick

Odette's pop culture pick for january is insight timer
Odette Jacquet, Precision Marketer

Insight Timer 📳

What you need to know: Insight Timer is a mobile app that offers thousands of free guided meditations, courses and, of course, a timer for your meditations. It is a game-changer for those looking to start a meditation practice.

I know I’m not the only one wanting to get back on track after the holiday season. And for many that looks like writing down a few New Years Resolutions. So what if 90% of your resolutions never happen. I think they are still a valuable tool for self-reflection!

One that has been on my list for at least 5 years is starting a regular meditation practice. Success has varied considerably, but last year I progressed the most. And that is partly due to my discovery of Insight Timer. The other helpful element was going on a meditation retreat, which I highly recommend if you can get the time off!

Get more details about this awesome app in my original write-up.

Jeff’s Pick

jeff's pop culture pick for january is ethnos
Jeff Mitchell, CTO and Co-founder

Ethnos 🎲

In short: This game is a nuanced combination of earning points for playing card sets and controlling the map. It’s quick, lots of fun, and full of replay potential.

Ethnos was recommended to me as a bit of a dark horse for board games and I was told it was surprisingly addictive. This indeed turned out to be true, and I have had many great sessions with friends since getting it. Of those friends, a few have even bought the game themselves as they enjoyed it so much. This includes friends who have played a wide variety of challenging board games for years, and friends who have just started getting into board games. The fact that it appeals to such differing levels of gaming experience says a lot.

I fully expect to get years and years of enjoyment from Ethnos.

Learn more about Ethnos in my original write-up!

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AE was recently featured on Music Think Tank, a leading music industry and artist advice blog. In our article, we discuss how Spotify Pre-save has hugely impacted online music marketing since its release.

Having worked in the music industry for over 10 years, Annabel has valuable information to share about music marketing. In the article, she provides helpful suggestions for music marketers wanting to succeed and speculates on where the music industry is shifting.

To read the full article visit the Music Think Tank blog. We share some of our favorite quotes below…

Streaming for Success

“There’s no doubt that streaming is taking the place of traditional music consumption modes. And, with over 191 million monthly active users, Spotify has the edge.” – Annabel Youens

 

The Whole Fan Journey

“Traditionally, labels have focused on release cycles: promote an album and reach as many listeners as possible. Now, labels are looking at the whole fan journey.” – Annabel Youens

 

Reduce Fan FOMO

“Pre-Save campaigns make life easier for fans. Fans don’t have to mark their calendars, hope they don’t forget the release, and eventually download the album on Spotify. This technology adds value for fans, which goes a long way towards building loyalty.” – Annabel Youens

Music Think Tank is a leading music industry and artist advice blog, managed by Hypebot.com.  As a group blog, it brings together key thinkers in the music business, creating a rich online community.

One more thank you to Music Think Tank for featuring AE on the blog!

We hope you get a chance to read the full article.

Want to learn more about promoting your music online using social media?
Check out our 4-step guide here.

Every month at the AE offices, we choose our Pop Culture Picks. It could be an album, a band, a book, a movie, a TV show, a podcast, or anything else we enjoyed over the previous 30 days. Keep scrolling to find out what caught our attention this month!

Annabel and Jeff’s Pick

Jeff & Annabel's Pop Culture Pick is Australia
Jeff Mitchel and Annabel Youens, Co-founders

Australia ✈

Spoiler Alert: Jeff and I are going to Australia for Christmas! 

Yep, we chose an entire country as our Pop Culture Pick. It’s really just an excuse to share some things that we love about Australia! This isn’t our first trip down under, and won’t be our last…Here’s what keeps us coming back:

1.Flat Whites – some of the best coffee in the world is made in Australia. It’s a bit of an obsession down there and one we can totally understand.

2.Violet Crumble – this chocolate bar is a thick slab of honeycomb (a.k.a. “sponge toffee” in Canada!)  covered in chocolate. They’re only available in Australia and there is something so satisfying about this crunchy, dense combination.

3.Beaches – those long sandy beaches you see in the promotional videos are legit. Not only are there thousands of beaches, but they’re also well organized. Most have paths carved through the dunes to protect the flora and fauna that live there. And quite often there is a shower near the parking lot. After a day in the sand, sun, and surf you can rinse off before hopping in the car to pick up fish and chips for dinner!

4.Pies – in Australia and neighbor NZ, pies are not filled with fruit. These pies are thick meat pies with flaky pastry. Jeff’s favorite is steak and cheese. Mine is mince and cheese. A gas store staple, you can find a pie just about anywhere in the country. Top tip – don’t try driving and eating a meat pie from its wrapper. It’s a disaster.

5.Friends – this is my number 1 reason for loving Australia. One of my best friends from Kindergarten lives there and for 37 years we’ve kept in touch by letter, recorded tapes, emails, and visits. When I see her it’s like we were hanging out yesterday, even when it’s been years between visits. She’s the type of friend I scream with joy when I see. What is better than that!

Jennifer’s Pick

Jenn's Pop Culture Pick is Stardew Valley
Jennifer Tigner, Intermediate Developer

Stardew Valley 📱

TL:DR; Stardew Valley is a warm, leisurely, and wholesome role-playing game that fills you with a sense of accomplishment.

I started playing this game on my iPhone and I just. Can’t. Stop.

Stardew Valley is a relaxing, go-at-your-own-pace roleplaying game in the old 2D pixel style. The game is reminiscent of the beloved Harvest Moon. You play by planting a garden of crops, taking care of your barn animals and your farm property, fishing, mining, and forming relationships with the other folks in Stardew Valley.

The game starts on the first day of spring and cycles through the year, with 28 days (4 weeks) per season. Each day passes in about 20 minutes of real time, and then I have to bring my character back to my house to sleep each night. One time I forgot to do so and I ‘fell asleep’ outside around 2 am. A doctor brought me home and kindly emptied my wallet along the way! 😂

It is oddly fun and satisfying seeing my work on the farm come to life as time passes. Here’s a taste of how the game plays. I wake up, see if the ores I mined have turned to bars in my furnace, water my plants, feed my animals, and head to town for 9 am when the woodworking and blacksmith stores open. From there it’s a choice of making friends and bringing them gifts, foraging for items in the forest, or ax-picking rocks down in the mines (among other things). I particularly enjoy visiting the beach and hunting for seashells. It’s the daily routine that gives the game a real sense of purpose and leaves you feeling content.

Stardew Valley originally came out in 2016 (2018 on iOS) with rave reviews. IGN gave it an 8.8/10 and Metacritic, an 8.9/10. That’s pretty darn good. Plus, the graphics and colors are stunning on my iPhone X’s OLED screen.

If you want a game that is both fun and relaxing to play, give Stardew valley a try!

Mike’s Pick

Mike's Pop Culture Pick is the game Ys VIII
Mike Penhall, Senior Developer

YS VIII 🎮

TL:DR; Lightweight action JRPG with a difference.

This one’s been out for a while on various systems (PS4, PS Vita, Steam) but it’s reasonably new to the Switch, my preferred console for Japanese role-playing games (JRPG). The Ys series (pronounced ‘ees’) has been around since the NES days, but admittedly this is the first of the series I’ve ever played and I’m enjoying it a lot.

In many ways Ys VIII is a pretty standard action JRPG. Heroes with big swords, magic, talking animals- you know the drill. But there are a few points of difference as well. Unlike most JRPG series that see a new world and characters with each sequel, the Ys series has followed hero Adol Christen since the very first game. The combat is also seamless and takes place in the overworld – no switching back and forth between exploration and battle mode. This works so well you wonder why it isn’t used in more games!

The scenario and game world are great, with the protagonists shipwrecked on a mysterious island, and Adol searching for any remaining survivors to return to the ever-evolving Castaway Village. It’s also refreshingly fast moving for a JRPG with just a short prelude episode before dumping you into the game proper. Highly recommended.

Odette’s Pick

Odette's Pop Culture Pick is the movie Free Solo
Odette Jacquet, Precision Marketer

FREE SOLO 🎬

In short: Free Solo is a documentary about climber Alex Honnold and his journey up El Capitan without the use of any ropes. While easy to sum up in a sentence, this film captures one of the most impressive, challenging, and dangerous athletic feats ever achieved.

El Capitan is a 3,000 ft vertical face of granite in Yosemite National Park. The smooth rock offers very little handholds, making it quite a challenging climb. Naturally, it has become a longstanding favorite of rock climbers, with thousands scaling it each year.

In 2017, Alex Honnold, an American climber, made it from top to bottom in under 4 hours. This in itself is no big deal. While most do the climb over the course of a few days, the speed record at the time was around 2 hours.

What made it absolutely *insane* was that he climbed the whole thing with no ropes. I repeat. No. Ropes.

Imagine being on the side of a sheer cliff of granite over 2,000 ft in the air with nothing keeping you there except your two hands and feet?!

There were times in the film when Alex only had one hold and it was his big toe on ⅛” lump of rock. Not to mention the vertical crack near the end of the climb that he ascended by jamming in one arm above the other…I’m no climber but witnessing Alex’s strength and fearlessness was dang inspiring.  

Free Solo has that classic National Geographic feel. It is full of breathtaking shots of El Capitan and the surrounding Yosemite National Park. You also get to see how the film was shot- drones and a film crew made up of professional climbers did the trick!

The film isn’t just about Alex’s climb up El Capitan. We also get to learn about his daily life, early years, and family. This provides a lot of context for why he was almost uniquely qualified to attempt the climb. My one critique is that there was just a little too much fluff about the impact of climbing on his romantic relationships…It had me thinking: let’s get back to the dizzyingly gorgeous cinematography already!

With a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, you can’t really go wrong. But if you’re still not sold, check out this 360 degrees snippet from the film (click and drag the screen to rotate your view!). You can also watch the trailer here.

A few words of warning: I am not afraid of heights, but this is one heck of a nerve-wracking film. Be prepared to sweat a little, especially if you see it in IMAX like I did!

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Every month at the AE offices, we choose our Pop Culture Picks. It could be an album, a band, a book, a movie, a TV show, a podcast, or anything else we enjoyed over the previous 30 days. Keep scrolling to find out what caught our attention this month!

Annabel’s Pick

Annabel's pop culture pick in november is love to sew
Annabel Youens, CMO and Co-founder

Love to Sew  📻

In short: My pick gives you everything a sewist could want in a podcast. It’s also an interesting insight into how audiences connect with brands that are authentic.

Helen Wilkinson and Caroline Somos host the specialized podcast Love to Sew. From Vancouver, BC (Hello from over the water!) these two ladies chat about sewing, making, and small business. They also interview guests involved in sewing, printmaking, and fabrics from all over the world.

Sewing used to be considered a Home Economics class or a necessity skill because you couldn’t afford to purchase clothes. Lately, sewing has gone through a revival. A lot of people are turning to their hands, and needle, to make their own clothes.

Many are discovering this art because they refuse to support fast fashion any longer. Others, because they are tired of not fitting into the “sizes” offered by mainstream fashion. For me, it’s a combination of these things, combined with the fact that it’s a huge stress reliever. When I’m sewing I’m concentrating on the feel of the fabric, the design of the pattern, and also trying to figure out how this 2D pattern becomes a 3D object I can wear. I’m definitely not thinking about my start-up!

I love the podcast because I learn A LOT about sewing. Every episode teaches me a new skill, or how to look at the craft in a different way. Helen and Caroline also come across the mic as “themselves.” They have corny jokes, make up songs and craft a mean sewing pun. The success of their podcast reaffirms my belief that if you are yourself and share useful information with your audience, people will connect with you. Any brand can learn from that.

How does this low-tech hobby keep me grounded at my startup? Read the full blog post here.

Jennifer’s Pick

jenn's pop culture pick for november is elle king shake the soul
Jennifer Tigner, Intermediate Developer

Shake the Spirit by Elle King 🎶

TL;DR: Her talent as a songwriter mixed with her smoky voice are a recipe for success. This album works through some hard emotions but stays fresh with mellow beats and well-written lyrics.

I remember listening to the radio a couple years ago and hearing a song that made me think “wow, that girl’s voice is way better than all the other mediocre pop songs on the radio right now.”

Fast-forward a few years and Elle King has come out with her second album. A real pleasure to listen to, it showcases a depth of soul that is rare for a pop radio star these days. Her voice is husky and thick, with moments of southern soul and blues. When I listen to the album, I get the sense that she’s using her music to get emotions off her chest, like you would with a close friend.

The songs “Baby Outlaw” and “Shame” ease you into the album with a fun beat. From then on, tracks start to get more serious. It quickly becomes evident that she’s gone through tough times in the last few years. “Good Thing Gone,” “Runaway,” and “Chained” are slower ballads that show the sadness she is feeling as she works through the failure of her relationship. “Sober” brings to light other issues that she has faced head-on in the making of this album. It ends on a positive note with “Little Bit Of Lovin,” a self-encouraging track with gospel vibes.

Mike’s Pick

mike's pop culture pick for november is roots, radicals and rockers by billy bragg
Mike Penhall, Senior Developer

Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World by Billy Bragg 📖

TL;DR: A definitive history of the 20th century’s first youth-led musical movement.

Skiffle music evolved from the UK’s traditional jazz scene in the mid-1950s. This occurred roughly parallel to the evolution of rock n’ roll in the US. Marking a strong change from the stale, ponderous, overly-produced BBC sponsored pop music of the time, Skiffle featured energetic interpretations of traditional folk and blues songs. These tunes were not easy to come by and were readily sought out by the music-loving teenagers of the time. Expertly written and researched by punk/folk musician Billy Bragg, Roots, Radicals and Rockers is a definitive look at the oft-overlooked genre that went on to inspire artists as diverse the Beatles and The White Stripes.

Odette’s Pick

odette's pop culture pick is mariam and amadou
Odette Jacquet, Precision Marketer

Dimanche à Bamako by Amadou & Mariam 🎶

In short: They fell in love at a school for the blind and have been making music ever since. This afro-blues-world album features traditional African instruments- you will not be able to stop your toes tapping along to the beat!

Amadou and Mariam met at a school for the blind in Mali. After discovering their shared interest in music, they started performing and recording tracks. In 2003, they were approached by famous world music star Manu Chao, who went on to produce their album, Dimanche à BamakoThe album was hugely successful and won the BBC Awards for Best World Music Album in 2006. Now, at age 50 and with many grandchildren, the duo continues to make music and tour the world.

Dimanche à Bamako is an energizing and diverse album. Most of the tracks are bluesy-funky-world-music-mashups, like “Taxi Bamako” and “Beaux Dimanches.” The album also features sparse, beautiful songs like “M’bife” and “M’bife Blues.” While you probably don’t speak French or Bambara, you will still be able to feel the emotion behind the lyrics. Oh and if you are already a fan of Manu Chao, you will enjoy the catchy and upbeat tracks “Senegal Fast Food” and “Camions Sauvages.” His signature style really shines through on these two, as well as his unique vocals.

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Every month at the AE offices, we choose our Pop Culture Picks. It could be an album, a band, a book, a movie, a TV show, a podcast, or anything else we enjoyed over the previous 30 days. Keep scrolling to find out what caught our attention this month!

Annabel’s Pick

annabel's pop culture pick for october is viticulture
Annabel Youens, CMO and Co-founder

Viticulture 🎲

In short: Make wine, drink wine and have fun!

I have a fantasy of owning a vineyard named Duojong Wines. My fantasy co-owner Mij and I visit our vineyard annually to sip award-winning wines on our shaded patio. Ah….

In reality, I know running a vineyard is very hard work! Having spent one day picking Pinot Noir grapes during harvest season in Queenstown, I got a very small taste of what it takes to be in the business.

I feel like I’ve found my perfect middle ground with the board game Viticulture. I get to drink wine and pretend to run my own winery. Do I plant more Pinot Gris vines? Should I build my tasting room now or wait? Will I be able to fill an upcoming order for Champagne? Oh, the decisions!

Viticulture is a worker placement game. You use your workers to plant vines, build structures, harvest the grapes, cellar the wine and fill orders. Each season you can perform specific actions, like planting in the spring and harvesting in the fall. It’s all about using your resources wisely and figuring out the best strategy to get ahead on the leaderboard.

I’ve only played the game once but I’m hooked and already strategizing my next game!

Jeff’s Pick

Jeff's pop culture pick for october is b: the beginning
Jeff Mitchell, CTO and Co-founder

B: The Beginning 📺

TL;DR: An epic Netflix Anime series with stunning graphics, great characters, and an overlapping storyline that includes both crime AND supernatural powers!

Netflix has gathered quite the catalog of quality Anime, with favorites like Fullmetal Alchemist, Death Note, Psycho Pass, Ajin and more. Recently, the streaming giant has even started to create their own original Anime, such as B: The BeginningWhile definitely worthy of a shout out, this 12-episode series is somewhat hard to describe, with two overlapping storylines.

The first storyline is a procedural crime drama involving an unorthodox, genius detective, Keith Flick. Along with his colleagues, Keith is looking into a series of crimes, primarily one involving a serial killer called “Killer B.”

The second storyline is a more supernatural tale about a secret group of young ‘god-like’ beings who have a variety of super-human abilities. This group is actually behind the crimes the detectives are trying to solve.

Pros:

  • Excellent animation. The characters are very well drawn and the action sequences of the crimes, as well as the supernatural battles, look visually stunning.
  • Great characters. Keith Flick is very likable, as is Lily, who is the Watson to his Holmes. On the supernatural side I thought Koku, as the protagonist, and Minatsuki, as the villain, are well-matched and intriguing.

Cons:

  • Complicated storyline. The most common critique of the show is that the storyline is complex and convoluted. In its defense, the plot really does comes together at the end of the season. And throughout, each episode drew me in and kept me interested, making me want to see how it all pans out.

Overall, I feel like this was a great effort by Netflix and I would be interested in seeing more of the series. Judging by the title,  B: The Beginning, I’d say this is a good possibility.

Odette’s Pick

Odette's pop culture pick for october is what we do in the shadows
Odette Jacquet, Precision Marketer

What We Do In The Shadows (2014) 🎬

What you need to know: A horror-comedy-mockumentary about a group of vampire flatmates and their struggles with mundane life. If you hate vampire movies, watch this.

Vampires. There’s something about these mysterious, blood-sucking creatures that we are so taken with. And why not? They can be noble and villainous, seductive and sparkly- ready to fill any desire of the imagination.

This faux documentary follows a group of four vampire flatmates, living in Wellington, New Zealand. We sit in on their house meeting, go out on the town in search of blood, and attend the annual undead ball. Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, 2016), who wrote, directed and starred in the film, clearly had fun with this one. It’s quirky, goofy, and drop-dead hilarious throughout!

Highlights include delicious Kiwi accents, an Inception-style zero-gravity fight scene, and blood spurting worthy of Tarantino himself. Watch this film on Halloween with friends and family (or roommates if you’ve got any!) and be prepared to laugh your guts out.

Mike’s Pick

Mike's Pop Culture Pick for October is Colleen Green
Mike Penhall, Senior Developer

Casey’s Tape / Harmontown Loops by Colleen Green 🎶

TL;DR: Sugary lo-fi pop rock and great songwriting, worthy of some of punk rock’s all-time greats.

I guess sounding like the Ramones is a bit of a cliché these days, but few do it with as much style and great songwriting as LA songwriter, Colleen Green. Casey’s Tape / Harmontown Loops is her first release since 2016’s also excellent I Want To Grow Up (there’s that Ramones thing again).

The album is made up of a recent EP and a couple of new tracks and is her most accomplished work to date. There’s a lot more than the Ramones influence going on here though. “I Wanna Be Ignored,” despite having a very Ramonesey title, is an infectious disco bounce and “Maybe I’ll Get Hit By A Car Tonight” adds synthesizers and doo-wop swing to the mix.

Colleen Green is one to watch. If you’re still not convinced, consider that her first album is named Milo Goes To Compton – a reference to both the Descendents and N.W.A! This alone is a reason to check her out.

Jennifer’s Pick

Jenn's pop culture pick for october
Jennifer Tigner, Intermediate Developer

Cat Lady 🃏

TL;DR: Are you bad at complex board games like I am, but still like to have fun? Then do I ever have the (quirky & cute) card game for you!

A few weeks ago, I was feeling pretty stressed out. My partner noticed and came home with Cat Lady! I laughed right away.

This is a simple “draft” card game with a straightforward objective: gain cats, feed them, and win with the most points! The deck has awesome cards featuring cat food, cat costumes, cat toys, and if you are lucky, catnip. Stray cat cards, for example, give you extra powers to help you win!

Cats include Chairman Meow, Pablo Picatso, Sir Cuddleface, LeVar Purrton and Waffle (you’re sure to win with this one!). I know it sounds silly in a bad way…But with artfully designed cards, cute cat names, and easy strategy, the game comes together so well. I still don’t win most of the time, but every once in a while I become the crazy cat lady! 😻

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Check out our pop culture picks from previous months:

Every month at the AE offices, we choose our Pop Culture Picks. It could be an album, a band, a book, a movie, a TV show, a podcast, or anything else we enjoyed over the previous 30 days. Keep scrolling to find out what caught our attention this month!

Avery’s Pick  

Avery's pop culture pick for the month of September is flower boy by tyler he creator
Avery Kushner, Junior Software Developer

Flower Boy by Tyler The Creator 🎶

TLDR; Flower Boy is a creative masterpiece that brings something new and fresh to the world of Hip Hop.

Behold, the soundtrack of Avery’s life during the month of August. The production value on this thing is amazing, especially considering Tyler The Creator himself produced it. Tyler’s talent is fully showcased on Flower Boy, no question. Flower Boy is a creative masterpiece that brings something new and fresh to the world of Hip Hop.

Raw creative drive is masterfully harnessed and propagated throughout each track while seamlessly tying the album into beautiful coherence. Each track is undeniably funky, marching along with strong breakbeat grooves. This is then layered with either extremely pretty chords like on “See You Again” or downright nasty melodies such as on “Who Dat Boy.” Oh yeah, and Tyler’s low register punchy rhymes are tight as usual.

There is a certain honesty invoked in this album that is rare in music, let alone in an entire album. It is honest in the sense that you can hear the artist’s pure unhinged expression of creativity. And I for one am completely blown away.

Jennifer’s Pick

Jenn's pop culture pick for the month of September is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Jennifer Tigner, Intermediate Developer

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 📖

TL;DR: A beautiful book about a group of students growing up in a boarding school in England. The only twist: they were born and raised to provide organs for other people.

This month I read a book that was as strange as it was entertaining.

The story follows the main character Kathy and her two friends Ruth and Tommy as they grow up in a boarding school in England in the 20th century (the book isn’t exact, but I’d guess the 1970’s/1980’s). This boarding school is completely isolated from the outside world and the students only interact with their teachers (a.k.a. ‘Guardians’) and each other up until they graduate. The students grow up together, forming deep friendships, and over the course of their education, they slowly learn what they really are: ‘Donors’ and ‘Carers’.

It turns out that the students are grown for the sole purpose of donating their organs, one by one until they ‘Complete’ (die!). The students claim that they always sort of knew their fate, despite being taught this reality piece by piece and when they were too young to fully understand. It is a simple truth in this fictional society and no one questions it: not even the students themselves.

The novel focuses more on the students’ experience of growing up, leaving this a grim subplot that lurks in the background. Ultimately, this is what makes Never Let Me Go a haunting and morally heart-wrenching read.

Annabel’s Pick

Annabel's pop culture pick for the month of September is Be the Cowboy, an album by Mitski
Annabel Youens, CMO and Co-founder

Be the Cowboy by Mitski 🎶

In short: My pick gives you sweet, angsty and surprising songs. 

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had an album on repeat. Enter Be the Cowboy by Mitski. 

Now admittedly, I have a bit of thing for angsty women and Mitski is bang-on: angsty, sweet, and confused. But what I love most about Mitski’s album is that each track is so very different:

  • Me and My Husband” is instantly catchy. You will be humming this song.
  • Lonesome Love” has a lovely guitar strum and beautiful vocals.
  • Nobody” is a new-disco track. How can you not love Mitski singing into her hairbrush in the video?

You need to listen to the full album to appreciate her range. The songs will surprise you. Enjoy.

Odette’s Pick

Odette's pop culture pick for the month of September is Insight Timer, a meditation app.
Odette Jacquet, Precision Marketer

Insight Timer 📳

What you need to know: Insight Timer is a mobile app that offers thousands of free guided meditations, courses and, of course, a timer for your meditations. It is a game-changer for those looking to start a meditation practice.

Insight Timer is my favourite app right now because nothing else has been so effective at getting me to meditate.

The first thing you will see is a world map lit up with dots. These are people who are using the app right now to meditate (3,993). Next to that is the day’s total number of meditations so far (426,882) and the option to search for meditators near you. Meditating is a solitary practice but it sure is nice to know that you aren’t alone!

Who knew that you could gamify meditating. The app tracks your activity allowing you to see your stats: frequency, duration, and averages with pretty charts to boot. You can also reach milestones and earn badges based on your activity (for example, the 7 days in a row milestone or the lofty 365 consecutive days badge!). It is actually weirdly motivating…

The meditation timer itself has lots of handy features like interval bells to keep you focused, ambient sounds and 9 different singing bowls to choose from to signal the end of your practice. I love that it keeps on timing after the bell sounds so that you can add on the extra minutes if you go over. 

If having a meditation practice has ever been on your list of new year’s resolutions, this is the life hack you’ve been waiting for!

Mike’s Pick

Mike's pop culture pick for the month of September is the album Future Me Hates Me by The Beths.
Mike Penhall, Senior Developer

Future Me Hates Me by The Beths 🎶

TL;DR: Crunchy indie pop rock hooks on kiwi band’s great debut album.

The Beths are an indie garage pop band from Auckland, New Zealand. Fronted by singer/songwriter Elizabeth Stokes, the Beth’s write euphoric guitar-driven pop with huge hooks and that crunchy lo-fi-on-purpose sound associated with indie bands.

Future Me Hates Me is the band’s debut album, but you wouldn’t know it: their songwriting is accomplished, their sound is tight and they’re already making waves on the global circuit. Highlights include “Little Death,” “River Run: LVL 1,” “Not Running,” and the title track “Future Me Hates Me.”

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Check out our picks from previous months: