Career

Year In Numbers

December 24, 2018

Another year, another year in list form 😂 Here’s what my 2018 looked like:

  • Listened to 3,533 different songs on Spotify (down from 4,196 in 2015)
  • Celebrated my third year at Bolster in August
  • Read 8 fiction books (my favourite was The Vegetarian)
  • Went on my first ever solo holiday to Hobart in November
  • Moved desks three times at work to keep things fresh
  • Went to 8 music festivals
  • Went to Sydney five bloody times
  • Ate the exact same breakfast and lunch about 250+ times at work because decision fatigue (Special K for breakfast, brown rice, tofu and veg for lunch)
  • On a related note, got takeout exactly three times at work this entire year
  • Went to one wedding
  • Only rearranged the furniture in my bedroom twice this year which is fairly low
  • Had roughly 100 surprise visits from my favourite neighbour
  • Only posted on Facebook 14 times (but 268 Instagram Stories and counting because #bestpractice)
  • Played four gigs with Fever Land (more FL action in 2019 for sure)

On the first point, here are my top 100 tracks from the year. (Very glad that I ended up going to Meredith since The Breeders and Yaeji feature in this bad boy.) Happy 2018, and here’s to 2019 and people continuing to read this blog for reasons completely unknown to me 🍸🍹

Music Industry Pathways Program

November 30, 2018

Absolutely love the work that The Push does for youth in music, and was so honoured to take complete their Music Industry Pathways Program for 2018 as a mentor. Kate and Lou from The Push paired me with Johanna, a wonderful human being who also happens to be an incredible graphic designer working in the music space in Melbourne. Here’s us being cheesy:

P.S. info about how to apply for the 2019 program here!

Digital Strategy Innovation Summit

September 20, 2018

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve spent the past couple of days in Sydney:

  1. Sleeping in a capsule hotel,
  2. And doing nerdy things at the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit.

Capsule hotels, it turns out, are just glorified, high-tech hostels. Felt like I was in Aliens or The Fifth Element… Not sure if Mila or Sigourney ever wore thongs to the bathroom to avoid getting athlete’s foot though.

On the other hand, the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit definitely covered innovation, digital and strategy. Most of my digital and strategy skills are self-taught (peppered with a few great short courses here and there) so it was eye-opening, reinvigorating and inspiring to hear experienced strategists and innovators talk about things in my wheelhouse. And also comforting when it turns out that vague concepts in my heads are actually frameworks with fancy names.

Here are some quotes because everyone loves a quote:

  • “Digital is not a threat. It can be your answer. If you get Facebook really right, you have 500K marketing managers for your radio station.” – Linda Bracken, Former Head of Audience Strategy & Digital Design, ABC.
  • “Transformation is a subset of innovation. New technology is a symptom of human curiosity.” – Scott Ward, Founder, Digital Infusions.
  • “Machine learning is the high interest credit card of technical debt.” – Paul Tune, Machine Learning Engineer, Canva.
  • “Data only takes us so far. It shows us what’s happened in the past. Design thinking helps us figure out why things are happening.” – Scott Ward.
  • “Creating a product is easy. Selling a product is hard. You have to create something that people need rather than selling something you have.” >> Sadly did not catch this person’s name! Believe she was in marketing/comms strategy, and replaced someone who was ill so isn’t listed on the program.
  • “Don’t capture people’s data for no reason. Solve a problem, solve a beautiful problem.” – Jennifer Scott, GM Digital Transformation, ANZ.
  • The customer is in the centre.” – Rob Hango-Zada, Co-founder, Shippit.
  • “Creative disruption is the new business as usual.” – Scott Ward.
  • “Whenever you see customer friction, this is where change is going to happen.” – Jennifer Scott talking about waiting in line for a supermarket checkout, and then seeing what Amazon Go is doing in the US.
  • Not a direct quote, but Ali Adey (Head of Digital, Simon De Winter) and Kim Peirce (Founder, Babe Australia) talked about how they find micro-influencers to be more valuable than influencers for brands. While they have less followers, their audiences tend to be more niche and engaged. They’re also seen to be more authentic when endorsing brands because they aren’t already up to their eyeballs with brand deals.
  • “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable with uncertainty. We need to get excited about being uncomfortable with uncertainty.” Harmandeep Singh, former VP of Strategy and Innovation at Brady.
  • “Engagement is captivating interest for long enough that they give a shit.” – Rob Hango-Zada.

The recurring theme here was HUMANS.

Whether it’s customers for consumer-facing activity like marketing, sales, customer service and product innovation, or staff if we’re talking about processes, product development and digital transformations. A common sentiment across the board was that the best technology, processes, apps and ideas mean shit if they don’t fit the people. If you haven’t thought about how your team feel about something or how they are going to implement it, or you’re assuming blindly that people want your product, then you’re in trouble. (Side note – I have many, many thoughts about how this definitely still applies to creative industries like music. There’s much debate about writing music for yourself vs. writing music for the market, but that’s a giant blog post for another day.)

Story time. Back in my early twenties I worked in the diamond industry for a couple of years doing quality control and logistics. (Before you stalk me on LinkedIn, this job ain’t listed on my profile.)

My office was a very secure diamond vault, and I needed to get through five floor-to-ceiling fridge doors to get to it. Imagine the Get Smart credits – that was my morning walk into my office. It was also super cramped and so dark in the vault that I could barely read the tiny barcodes on my diamond bags.

The company paid a consultancy firm some hefty cash to help us improve productivity and therefore make more money. Some creepy dudes in suits came in for a few months, but not once did they actually talk to any lower level team members. Instead they went to lunch with upper management a few times, and then back with ‘business solutions’.

Their improvement for my role was to swap out my normal product trolley with a giant ‘high productivity’ trolley that did not fit into my bloody vault. I pointed this out to them, and they said they were 100% sure it fit because they checked the building’s blueprint. Turns out they didn’t think about the fact that a human needs to be able to fit WITH the trolley in the vault to put things on it, so I had to instead have my trolley outside the vault to do my work and walk double the distance every single time I retrieved a product. And also – no new lights.

People are important apparently. Talk to your humans. 😂

BIGSOUND: Edition Seven

September 12, 2018

Wot wot

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This year marked my seventh time up in Queensland for BIGSOUND. Here are some things that happened:
  • Ran a workshop with Bolster‘s Director Anthony Zaccaria on understanding data and being able to pull out actionable insights from a bunch of numbers.
  • Got attacked by a BIGSOUND monster. See above.
  • Finally watched No Mono live after months of hearing my friends gush about them. They were GREAT.
  • Went to watch No Mono’s second showcase, but accidentally walked through a Bin Juice set on the way and was blown away. Absolute music highlight of the whole conference. I didn’t end up catching No Mono again.
  • Asked a question at Darren Levin’s content panel, and then had a complete stranger in the loo afterwards tell me I had a lovely voice. (Not sure if she liked my question.)
  • This gem from Alex’s data panel, from the moderator Chris Carey: “Data only has an answer if you have a question to ask.” So figure out why you are looking at the data (what’s your artist’s top city, or the best retailer for record sales, or the top track this year, or good targeting ideas?) and then look at the data. Was fitting with the panel focusing on how there is so much bloody data available to us now, but people aren’t necessarily getting any extra value here. 
  • Got my own hotel room in a twist of fate because my roomie ended up breaking her ankle before flying up to Brisbane. Broken bones suck but privacy is pretty great.
  • The most incredible views from the Bolster boys’ hotel room.
  • Drunk conversations at the Eventbrite party comparing investing to advertising optimisation. (Give me a whisky and ask me about this.)
  • Heard a certain media person on a panel claim to simply take brands’ money and then bury their paid editorial with other content as their ‘native content strategy’… NB: person in question is not a Bolster employee, client or partner.
  • Pretty sure the Bolster espresso martinis were pure rocket fuel. See below.
  • Not getting completely sick! This is a BIGSOUND first for me. (I do feel not 100% and have been avoiding humans this week, but hey, this is still a big win.)

Bolster x BIGSOUND x Brisbane x…. Beverages 😏 #bigsound

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CHANGES

July 9, 2018

Australia’s newest music industry event found its home in Melbourne this week. CHANGES was a music industry summit by day, and industry-showcase-and-adventures-on-Smith-Street-with-a-side-of-kebabs by night. In a spin to the typical conference format, CHANGES had zero panels. Instead they focused on small room workshops and masterclasses, as well as one-person keynotes by industry experts to let attendees get a deeper view on each topic.

CHANGES was run by the excellent folk at The Push, and Bolster was involved heavily through the graphic design, website, digital advertising and also popping up here and there on the event program.

Bolster‘s Director Alex Zaccaria opened the conference with an interactive keynote. We posed advertising trivia questions based on industry and Bolster stats, with attendees answering these with real-time polls using their mobile phones. For instance… How many metres of content does the average person scroll through daily on their phone? What percentage of festival ticket holders actually like said festival on Facebook? What percent of website banner ads booked for festivals and tours are actually ever displayed on a real screen to a real human? If you want to know the answers to those… chat to us 😂

LNWY and IOHYOU hosted the CHANGES closing party at the Night Cat, with some pretty phenomenal music from Krakatau, ALTA and Billy Davis & The Good Lords. (If you haven’t heard of LNWY, it’s Bolster’s evergreen content outlet with Laneway Festival. I love it, and so should you.)

On a more personal note, I also ran a closed door workshop with Al Parkinson, hosted by Music Victoria. We had good chats around all things social media, marketing and helping artists get ahead.

Here’s to CHANGES 2019!

Sarah Chav' - facebook.com/sarahchavphotos

Sarah Chav' - facebook.com/sarahchavphotos

Photos: Sarah Chav

The Smith Street Band!

April 16, 2017


Congrats x a million to The Smith Street Band for scoring a top 3 ARIA chart debut with their new album! Such an incredible feat, and wonderful to know that indie music fans in Australia really still do buy music and support local talent.

I was so lucky to work on the album at Bolster via Remote Control and their management agency Little Giant (who, coincidentally, are “desk neighbours” in our office building). I’ll leave you with the following little video because CONFETTI CANNON:

Awkward, You Didn’t Check The Date

April 2, 2017

Happy April Fool’s Day!

Yesterday the Bolster crew pulled an April Fool’s PR prank that, um, didn’t work. We put up social media posts and a blog post about starting a new arm of the business… specifically a doggo club in Collingwood, by the name of WALKIES.

bolster_walkies_club-1024x1024

I thought our pun-filled blog post made it pretty clear that this was a pisstake. Come on, ‘Courtney Barknett’? Apparently not.

A whole bunch of mates and clients messaged us to tell us how utterly excited they were. Sorry guys. It’s not real.

But not all of the blog post is wrong. We are moving office very soon, and the Collingwood converted warehouse in that pic is where we’ll be setting up shop very soon (albeit minus the Photoshopped WALKIES branding). Update on new office digs shortly!

The Austin Buzz

March 10, 2017

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SXSW is almost upon us! While I’m not headed over to the States for the music/tech/film conference, Bolster is still in on the action with another ‘buzz’ site.

This time round, the Bolster Creative team have created The Austin Buzz, an unofficial social media hype site. If it looks familiar, it’s because it’s the same technology we used for last year’s BIGSOUND Buzz app.

The Austin Buzz pulls together social media data around all the music acts trying their hand at South By this year, with info being drawn from public Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts. User mentions/tags are also weighted according to the authority of the social media post’s author. In other words, a Pitchfork mention has more gravity than your mum on Twitter, sorry… There’s a nice little write up on The Music Network if you want to read what Alex Zacca had to say about it.

Kudos to the design team for their top notch graphic design work, which you can check out on this very monochromatic Instagram channel.

Side note – very pleased to see some amazing Aussies musos representing our fine country in Texas this week, including the likes of Kučka, C.W. Stoneking and Alex Lahey.

2016 Year In Review

December 27, 2016

2016 was a very weird year for everyone involved. Hey there, Brexit/Trump/Bowie/Snape/Malcolm Turnbull! On a more personal level, I had some shit things happen to me too (i.e. having my flu misdiagnosed as meningococcal and getting sent to the ER) but otherwise, some pretty sweet things happened to, including:

  • Celebrating an entire decade of calling the world’s most liveable city home.
  • Running a BIGSOUND Conference workshop with Alex for Bolster that ended up being the most popular workshop at the whole conference by far.
  • Getting to play five shows at Canadian Music Week with Darts, and successfully navigating LAX with 22kg of music gear.
  • Back on home soil, getting the chance to play some amazing Darts gigs this year, including opening for Tiny Little Houses, Bully, Bleached and Polish Club, plus playing Volumes Fests in Syd.
  • Finding a FREE HAT.
  • Figuring out what I sound awful why I try to sing. (It’s to do with my breathing, apparently.)
  • Heading over to Singapore in November and eating all the foods.
  • Successfully doing a webinar on digital advertising.
  • Speaking at the 8 Percent conference panel around the place of record labels in the current music climate.
  • Watching The Cure play Splendour In The Grass.
  • Completing a 100-day healthy challenge where I had to eat cleanly for 100 days. I accidentally found out that not eating processed food for over 3 months cures adult acne. The more you know.
  • Learning to knit!
  • Getting the chance to work with some absolutely phenomenal clients at Bolster, including Iggy Pop, Adele, Flume and more.
  • Finishing an online course in best practices for copywriting for web and learning some new things too.
  • Travelling more than I ever have in my entire life, with a record of 22 flights over 12 months. No flights booked for 2017 though and that makes me so happy.
  • Learning that I will never be satisfied with whatever headphones I own. (Currently on the Aiaiai TMA-2 Studio Presets which are okay, but HMU if you know something better.)

Happy New Year, guys!

Year In Music

December 20, 2016

Is it a bit weird that I work in the music industry and am constantly listening to new music, yet my most played songs of 2016 are largely songs from previous years?

According to Spotify, the tunes I spun the most this year were:

  1. ‘When I’m Small’ by Phantogram (new album was good, but this song just takes the cake)
  2. ‘Take a Dip’ by Weaves
  3. ‘Digital Witness’ by St. Vincent

Apart from these top three, I ended up listening to 3,273 unique songs by 1,266 total artists for over 35,262 minutes… Full playlist below. Largely chicks with guitars singing loudly… Typical.

In terms of new albums I really dug, I thought the new Glass Animals album was ace and had GA’s signature style but was a real progression from their first album. September Girls’ new LP ‘Age of Indignation’ also got a real thrashing this year, but I still love their older ‘Veneer’ EP so much.

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