Time to take stock in the albums that were on everyone’s favorite lists. This word cloud is based on top album lists from several media publications – Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, NME, Chicago Tribune, Paste, Stereogum, KEXP, etc. It’s our abridged visual version of the very comprehensive Village Voice Pazz and Jop poll. The cloud is listed by artist only for simplicity. The cloud is also weighted by the rank the albums received on each entity’s list.To see more complete information of album titles and official list rankings, check our compiled list below.  Look’s like if you haven’t checked out Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange yet, you probably should. It IS good stuff.

One us recently received some newly purchased clothes in a reused box. Big deal right?

However, the box contained a sticker asking recipients to reuse the box to,  “Keep it going!…Track its journey by scanning the QR code or entering it at aboxlife.com”

What a great use of a QR code we thought. We whipped out our smartphones to scan the code only to have it go nowhere. It only contained four letters of text. We were left feeling verklempt. Since we are a little nerdy when it comes to scanning technology whether it be QR codes of NFC chips, we pushed through our desire to abort. We entered the box info by hand through their website. And what we saw was great -  A link to a map tracking where your box came from complete with short write ups from each box recipient. It really took the simple of idea of reusing a box further by creating a narrative – a travelog for your shipping box.  It ups the likelihood that recipients will reuse their boxes.

We gave aboxlife.com the benefit of the doubt thinking it might be a isolated glitch with our specific QR code. We tested several other aboxlife.com QR codes we found through a google image search. Unfortunately, we had the same problem with each one of them.

Sigh, a solid enough concept that it’s hampered by a poor execution of QR code usage. As we’ve blogged before, this is in part why QR code’s have been slightly tarnished. In the case of aboxlife.com the QR code glitch is enough to prevent adoption of their product.

 

Bummer. Poor shipping boxes

Lately we’ve noticed some grumbling on the web that question the usefulness of QR codes. Our favorite is wtfcodes.com. It showcases some head-scratchingly poor QR code usage. As we’ve mentioned before that although QR code use in marketing has risen, many don’t use the technology correctly. There’s also skepticism about whether or not the consumer/end-user actually scans them thus asking questions like, “Are We Ready for QR Codes?” Other media point out that the total amount people who scan the codes is a small percentage compared to the total number smartphone owners – It’s 18%. Comscore found 6.2% of the total US mobile audience scanned a QR code from their mobile device in June 2011

Sure the QR code is not seeing much love lately. But there are several things to consider before you give it the ski rope and rev up the boat in shark infested waters.

QR code execution by marketers is not up to par. Once again, we refer to Wtfcodes.com which shows great examples of this. How to do you expect people to quickly embrace something that’s hard to scan, and/or leads them to pointless things? Statistics show people will scan if there’s something that makes scanning worth it. The highest percentage of people who do so, do it to find out more information about the item marketed.

• People scanning QR codes in the real world may be a small percentage, but the growth in QR code scanning since 2010 has been exponential. Separate studies by tech firms show growth in code scans by 800% and 1200% from 2010 to 2011. Even if growth diminished by half, that’s still a sizable amount.

It doesn’t matter if the QR code is not long for this world. The QR code technology deserves respect as it helped usher in a new way to connect with your audience - A nearly instantaneous way for users to learn more about what you have to offer. Your possibility to expand their engagement with you is stronger than ever. This process will continue to thrive as it should and will expand as technology offers even simpler ways to connect like Near Field Communication or advanced image recognition.

Thus it is PARAMOUNT to focus on the core of this great opportunity, not simply the technology that’s providing it. Emphasize on the user experience and the rest will follow. Do it well enough to where the technological details are interchangeable. The mantra – make it fun, simple and worthwhile to the end-user.

That’s what we’re working to offer musicians and promoters with Taggr. An easy way for them to engage potential fans and strengthen connections with existing ones. It’s completely effortless and free for the musicians and promoters to set up and manage. Plus it is designed around the mobile user experience adding extra dimensions to the legendary promotional tool of the concert poster.

QR codes are still worth using. Ok, now I know I just said if QR codes use dwindles, it doesn’t matter. But I don’t mean throw in the towel on them. They’re free, easy to put on posters and other media and still have the strongest adoption rate out there. No other technology is as yet ubiquitous as the QR code.  Their market share might still be small comparative to the total mobile device ownership but as we’ve seen, their potential to continue to grow is high.  As long as you make the process stellar, people won’t think it’s janky. It’s too great of an opportunity to not offer when the moment is right.

 

 

 

Let’s face it there are a ton of ways for bands to get themselves seen and heard online. That’s a great thing.  Now more than ever most bands have to spend more time promoting themselves in addition to creating their art. Having an arsenal of digital promotional supplies with a huge reach potential that are free or next to nothing helps.

Where does this proliferation leave the concert poster? Many argue the poster is a creative extension of the band, quintessential pop art.  More importantly, it still holds its place in letting locals know your band is coming to town.  Sites like Reverbnation, Facebook or Twitter are great for direct fan promotion but the concert poster is still an effective way to get your band seen by someone who’s not a fan – yet.  Therefore why shouldn’t the concert poster be updated for the digital age?

That’s what we’re striving to do at Taggr. We’re providing a way to match the 2.0 prowess of digital music promotion. Ultimately it’s all about the music, yet that’s the one thing music posters have been missing. Until now, people couldn’t instantly hear what the band sounded like upon seeing a concert poster. Taggr will provide a way for interested passerby’s to listen to the band(s) after scanning the concert poster with their smartphones. Plus, they’ll have a way to learn more about the band by accessing the band’s Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Tumblr, etc pages through an intuitive and well designed custom mobile page.

We understand that with the horde of music promotional sites out there the last thing a band or concert promoter needs is another site to manage. It will not supplant any of your preexisting online tools. We just want to build onto them by helping you get the best promotional outcomes from concert posters or concert advertisements in the most effortless way possible.  Taggr will be free and drop dead easy to manage. We don’t want to complicate why you’re in this in the first place -  to create music.

We’re diligently working to release a beta soon and hope you try us out.

I came across this QR code late 2010 after purchasing bananas at the grocery store.  It was to promote the latest Alvin and Chipmunks live action sequel that came out during the holiday season.  We here at Taggr often come across QR code/Microsoft Tag campaigns that fall short of effectiveness. It’s surprising to see how many scannable codes in magazine ads will simply point to an exact copy of ad or just the company’s home page.

However, this one does a respectable job in adding something you can’t get with traditional advertising.

First of all, advertising this kids movie on bananas is a good choice. Especially during the winter. It’s the one consistent fruit you can buy during the winter season for your kids.

Another thing is that the ad goes home with customer. It sits on the their kitchen counter until someone eats it, giving many opportunities for the household to actually see it and scan it.

When you scan the QR code it brings you to a web page to download ring tones for your smartphone from the movie.  Not mind blowing but at least it doesn’t simply point to the movie trailer which a lot of QR codes promo campaigns for movies do. That’s fine for an indie film but not this movie. It was hard to avoid the trailers for this latest Chipmunk flick on TV and even ads for it on the internet. So having a link to see a “sneak preview” on the bottom is fine.

 

It also looks like there’s an umbrella campaign from Dole. You could sign up for their “Dole Mobile Club” to receive coupons and recipes.

The major snag for this entire ad, however, is the size of the code. It is a little too small and took several attempts on many different QR scanning apps to get the scan to work. It was enough, I think, to turn people off from following through. We’ve found that the size of the scannable code definitely dictates whether or not to even use a code in the ad. It’s even more important when you factor in the conditions people will scan the ad in (i.e. sitting down, walking by, on a billboard, etc.) It’s not worth it to squeeze the code in there if you’re not getting a successful ease of detection.  You’re asking the consumer to be pretty active so to not work within the first couple of attempts will instantly turn them off.

Overall, this campaign wasn’t revolutionary, but it was a step in the right direction to what QR codes can add to a campaign. It helped up the ante on keeping this Chipmunk movie sticky enough to stay inside people’s heads. And with not so stellar reviews like these, it seemed to have helped somewhat if you compare the reviews to the fact that their box office take is in the black.

 

It’s one of our favorite things about the end of the year. A chance to see what various people chose for their top ten albums of the year. Above is a wordle of band names from the top ten album lists chosen by critics and music publications from around the US and UK.  It helps see which bands are the stand outs. Looks like Bon Iver’s, “Bon Iver,” tUnE-YarDs’ “whokill” and Fucked Up’s, “David Comes To Life.” made it into a lot of top ten lists. Text versions of the lists are below:

Billboard Critic’s Picks
Adele, “21″
Bon Iver, “Bon Iver”
Jay Z & Kayne West, “Watch The Throne”
Frank Ocean, “Nostalgia, Ultra”
Drake, “Take Care”
Fucked Up, “David Comes to Life”
The Weekend, “House of Balloons”
Florence + The Machine, “Ceremonials”
James Blake, “James Blake”
The Joy Formidable, “The Big Roar” 

Chicago Tribune/Sound Opinions co-host – Greg Kot
Wild Flag, “Wild Flag”
The Roots, “Undum”
tUnE-YarDs, “w h o k i l l”
Van Hunt, “What Were You Hoping For”
Fucked Up, “Comes to Life”
The Feelies, “Here Before”
Raphael Saadiq, “Stone Rollin”
Bewitched Hands, “Birds and Drums”
Das Racist, “Relax”
Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues”

The Guardian UK
Katy b, “On A Mission”
Frank Ocean, “Nostalgia, Ultra”
Beyoncé – “4”
Bon Iver, “Bon Iver”
James Blake, “James Blake”
Metronomy, “The English Riviera”
The Weekend, “House of Balloons”
Rustie, “Glass Swords”
tUnE-YarDs, “w h o k i l l”

KEXP – DJ John Richards
M83, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”
We Are Augustines, “Rise Ye Sunken Ship”
Elbow, “Build A Rocket Boys!”
Radiohead, “King of Limbs”
The Joy Formidable, “The Big Roar”
WU LYF, “Go Tell Fire To The Mountain”
Of Monsters and Men, “My Head Is An Animal”
The Horrors, “Skying”
Milagres, “Glowing Mouth”
The Head and the Heart, “The Head and the Heart”

LA Times – Randall Roberts
PJ Harvey, “Let England Shake”
Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer, “Re:ECM”
Frank Ocean, “Nostalgia, Ultra”
Tom Waits, “Bad a Me”
Adele, “21”
James Pants, “James Pants”
Shabazz Palaces, “Black Up”
King Creosote and Jon Hopkins, “Diamond Mine”
Eleanor Friedberger, “Last Summer”
Fucked Up, “David Comes to Life”

NME
PJ Harvey, “Let England Shake”
Metronomy, “The English Riviera”
The Horrors, “Skying”
Wild Beasts, “Smother”
Kurt Vile “Smoke Ring For My Halo”
Arctic Monkeys, “Suck It And See”
St. Vincent, “Strange Mercy”
Katy B, “On A Mission”
tUnE-YarDs, “w h o k i l l”
WU LYF, “Go Tell Fire To The Mountain”

The NY Times – Jon Pareles
Feist, “Metals”
Paul Simon, “So Beautiful, So What”
Jay-Z and Kanye West, “Watch The Throne”
Ryan Adams, “Ashes and Fire”
Tom Waits, “Bad As Me”
Drake, “Take Care”
tUnE-YarDs, “w h o k i l l”
Lykke Li, “Wounded Ryhmes”
Le Tout Puissant Orchestre Poly-Rythmo,
“Cotonou Club”
Liturgy, “Aesthetica”

Paste Magazine
Bon Iver, “Bon Iver”
Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues”
My Morning Jacket, “Circuital”
tUnE-YarDs, “w h o k i l l”
Middle Brother, “Middle Brother”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., “It’s A Corporate World”
Wilco, “The Whole Love”
Dawes, “Nothing Is Wrong”
M83, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”
The Decemberists, “The King Is Dead” 

Pitchfork
BonIver, “Bon Iver”
Destroyer, “Kaputt”
M83, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”
PJ Harvey, “Let England Shake”
Girls, “Father Son, Holy Ghost”
Oneohtrix Point Never, “Replica”
tUnE-YarDs, “w h o k i l l”
Drake, “Take Care”
Real Estate, Days
The Weeknd, “House of Balloons”

Rolling Stone
Adele, “21”
Jay-Z and Kanye West, “Watch The Throne”
Paul Simon, “So Beautiful or So What”
Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues”
Radiohead, “King~of~Limbs”
Lady Gaga, “Born This Way”
The Decemberists, “The King Is Dead”
Wilco, “The Whole Love”
Wild Flag, “Wild Flag”
Robbie Roberston, “Clairvoyant”

Sound Opinions co-host – Jim Derogatis
Le Butcherettes, “Sin, Sin, Sin”
Wild Flag, “Wild Flag”
Das Racist, “Relax”
The Feelies, “Here Before”
Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi, “Rome”
Fucked Up, “David Comes to Life”
Bewtiched Hands, “Birds and Drums”
tUnE-YarDs, “w h o k i l l”
The Decemberists, “The King is Dead”
The Go! Team, “Rolling Blackout”

Spin Magazine
Fucked Up, “David Comes to Life”
PJ Harvey, “Let England Shake”
Ema, “Past Life Martyred Saints”
Kurt Vile, “Smoke Ring For My Halo”
Girls, “Father Son, Holy  Ghost”
Danny Brown, “XXX”
The Rapture, “In The Grace of Your Love”
G-Side, “The One…Cohesive”
Wild Flag, “Wild Flag”
Lykke Li, “Wounded Ryhmes”

Spinner
EMA, “Past-Life Martyred Saints”
The Weeknd, ‘House of Balloons’
Fucked Up, “David Comes to Life”
Dum Dum Girls, “Only in Dreams”
Tennis, “Cape Dory”
Adele, “21”
Tom Waits, “Bad as Me”
Bon~Iver,~”Bon~Iver”
The Beach Boys, “The SMiLE Sessions”
Cults, “Cults”

Happy 1st Birthday Cake

Happy First Year to us; Happy first year to us…

 

Slightly over a year ago our nascent business idea hatched and took top prize at Startup Weekend Portland November 2010. We feverishly left the gates running and pushed to get something out to market fast.  But, we came across some snags.  Gratefully, there’s a lot of really great support within the start up community on the web about the challenges of launching a start up.  Not to mention we had a few great people from the Portland start up world volunteer their professional wisdom. All of it helped us realize to expect these things.  It also helped us realize to slow down a smidgen and turn those snags into opportunities.  We didn’t forcibly squeeze something janky out to the masses.

We took time to road test Taggr in the real world, albeit on a controlled scale. An awesome club here in Portland, OR called Mississippi Studios has used Taggr since February 2011. Each week they publish the Taggr codes within their weekly ads in the two competing local alternative weeklies. Scanning the codes with a smartphone provides interested readers instant access to see who’s playing that week and instantly learn more about the bands/artists and hear what they sound like directly through their mobile device.  Mississippi also appreciates how Taggr offers actual data on what’s getting scanned and clicked through.  It helps them gauge where their ads are the most effective.

The step back also helped us find our new CTO.  He brings a refreshing outlook and a killer talent for creating a robust and solid backend to make Taggr reliable, user friendly and scalable. We’re so happy to have him even if he is a fan of the new Metallica/Lou Reed collaboration Lulu.

We’ve also spent this time developing ways to utlize Taggr outside of QR codes. So as the technology for smarphone scanning changes we’ll be right there with it.

So all in all, stepping back has poised us to take a  larger, surefooted step forward into our next year as we prepare for our beta launch for the early part of 2012.

 

 

 

We’re fortunate enough to partner with the fantastic Portland music venue Mississippi Studios to road test the Taggr experience. They debuted a Taggr created QR code in this week’s (Feb. 24 – March 2) Portland, OR alt-weekly The Portland Mercury.

Mississippi Studios Ad in Alt-weekly

Got a smartphone? Now you have a chance to instantly hear the acts coming to Mississippi Studios

If you’re in Portland, OR – pick up a copy scan it and send us feedback.

(Of course you can scan the code right here with your smartphone. You’ll need to download a free QR code scanning app for your Android or Iphone.)

Ilie Mitaru for Oregon Business writes about Taggr in the February issue of Oregon Business.

The article is also available here: http://www.oregonbusiness.com/articles/96-february-2011/4750-embedding-music-posters-with-bar-codes

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