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Top 20 Albums of 2015: #5 – #1

As we countdown to 2016, we have been reminiscing about all of the amazing albums that dropped in 2015. This list of the Top 20 Albums of 2015 has been compiled by our Music Supervision team, and includes their favorite albums of the year, spanning all genres. The wait is over, here are numbers 5 – 1!

 

5. Tame Impala – Currents

Over the summer, Aussie indie psyche-rockers Tame Impala released Currents, their third album and follow-up to the critically acclaimed Lonerism. This time around, their approach was minimalistic synth-infused pop, with less focus on rock influences and more on electronic sounds.

Song: “The Moment”

 

4. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, Sometimes I Just Sit

Killer guitarist, songwriter and humble performer, Courtney has the whole package. The Aussie rocker draws listeners in with her compelling lyrics, Down Under accent and unusual vocal style.

Song: “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party”

 

3. Justin Bieber – Purpose

The Biebs is back with his most mature album to date.

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Top 20 Albums of 2015: #10 – #6

As we countdown to 2016, we have been reminiscing about all of the amazing albums that dropped in 2015. This list of the Top 20 Albums of 2015 has been compiled by our Music Supervision team, and includes their favorite albums of the year, spanning all genres. Counting down to number one…here are 10 – 6.

 

10. Adele – 25

This year saw the return of Adele with her album 25. Although you don’t need Kleenex for its entirety, there are definite moments when folks of lesser emotional fortitude will require copious amounts of tissues to dry the cascading tears that are wretched from their bleeding hearts when Adele affixes her laser-focus on their heartstrings. To say this album was highly anticipated would be the understatement of the year, as it debuted at number one in more than 25 markets and broke first-week sales records in multiple countries, including the United Kingdom and United States. Outside of the numbers game, the album is a straight-up gem.

Song: “Hello”

 

9. The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness

Abel Tesfaye,

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Top 20 Albums of 2015: #15 – #11

As we countdown to 2016, we have been reminiscing about all of the amazing albums that dropped in 2015. This list of the Top 20 Albums of 2015 has been compiled by our Music Supervision team, and includes their favorite albums of the year, spanning all genres. Check out picks 15 – 11!

 

15. HEALTH – Death Magic

HEALTH’s new album was sort of a throwback to some early 90’s industrial music, hard-hitting beats with a hint of pop quirkiness, just enough to satisfy fans of their early work. The band blended elements of noise, punk and industrial to craft an abrasive album that showed signs of accessibility to the uninitiated.

Song: “Stonefist”

 

14. Skylar Spence – Prom King

Skylar Spence released simply one of the most fun albums of 2015. Call it nu-disco pop, vaporwave, gibber boogie or whatever else you want, these are tracks that keep you dancing all night long.

Song: “Can’t You See”

 

13. Janet Jackson –

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Top 20 Albums of 2015: #20 – #16

As we countdown to 2016, we have been reminiscing about all of the amazing albums that dropped in 2015. This list of the Top 20 Albums of 2015 has been compiled by our Music Supervision team, and includes their favorite albums of the year, spanning all genres. To get things started…here are 20 – 16.

 

20. Vince Staples – Summertime ‘06

Those who dig the dense, laid-back beats of West Coast hip-hop but also want some brash electronic flares (i.e. El-P/Wu-Tang style grit) should stop what they’re doing and peep this debut full-length release from Long Beach’s newest and illest MC. A one-time associate of the Odd Future collective, Vince Staples has one of 2015’s best hip-hop albums with Summertime ’06, featuring guest appearances from the likes of Jhene Aiko, Snoh Aalegra, Kilo Kish and more.

Song: “Norf Norf”

 

19. Thundercat – The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam

Thundercat, aka Stephen Bruner, has played bass for the Suicidal Tendencies and Erykah Badu, and he also worked on Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp A Butterfly.

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Featured Artist: Young Gun Silver Fox

Artist: Young Gun Silver Fox

Twitter: @WestEndCoast Track: You Can Feel it

This is a beautiful sun kissed slice of Laurel Canyon California soul. Conjuring up images of David Crosby jamming with the Doobie Brothers and Hall & Oates. Based in London, Young Gun Silver Fox are Andy Platts (Mamas Gun) and Shawn Lee (Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra/Shawn Lee & AM). Close your eyes and let it wash over you. The single is taken from the amazing new LP, “West End Coast” available now on Legere Records.

Check out Young Gun Silver Fox on Tumblr

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Music Discovery: Music Supervisors Top Picks of 2015

Every year, our Music Supervisors, who range from DJs to label owners, dive through hundreds of albums and thousands of songs to find perfect and unique songs that will fit seamlessly into the audio strategies for our brands. After many years of curating playlists myself, I’ve come to realize that our clients just want one thing: to stand out from the droves of other brands by sharing songs that pique the interest of their customers. Now that the end of the year is upon us, we’ve put our artistic audiophile brains together to come up with some standouts in music discovery, some of which you’ve heard already playing at your local coffeehouse or fashion boutique and some you’ve never heard before.

Artist: Wild Ones

Twitter: @wildonestheband

Track: Dim The Lights

Portland based band ‘Wild Ones’ starts us off with a track that made topped many of our Music Supervisor’s lists of their favorite songs of the year. Daniel Sullivan’s gritty voice sounds like she’s walking the streets under the dim lights of Manhattan–and we have found this track fits nicely with many of our brand’s sonic strategies.

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Featured Artist: Cosmo’s Midnight

Artist: Cosmo’s Midnight

Twitter: @cosmosmidnight

Track: Walk With Me

Cosmo and Patrick Liney are twins from Sydney that make up the production duo, Cosmo’s Midnight. Their name comes from Cosmo making a remix of a Lykke Li track “Little Bit” at midnight one evening. Their music is defined as instrumental, chill out and electronic, yet it fits into a lot of genre categories. Their new EP “Moments” is out now, so check it out!

Other tracks from Cosmo’s Midnight

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The Top 20 Holiday Songs in Retail for 2015

Last week, we shared our list of the top holiday songs in retail for the first time. Culled from song playback data during this holiday season across our 400+ brands, this list of the Top 20 Holiday Songs Played in Retail is indicative of songs you’re most likely to hear while you’re out perusing the big sales, flipping through racks of sweaters, or sorting through piles of The Force Awakens merchandise.

For each of our clients, we develop a music strategy that’s based on a number of factors, including brand and marketing initiatives, target audiences, touch points, products and services, seasonality, and more. We then build playlists that align with these strategies, resulting in highly-tailored music programs that translate each brand’s identity into sound.

Classics, Covers and Co-Penned Originals

When it comes to holiday music, classics and covers always tend to reign supreme, so first off I have to say “congrats” to Kelly Clarkson for another American Idol first: co-penning one of the only original, contemporary songs on the list of top 20 holiday shopping songs, “Underneath the Tree.”

A little sentiment goes a long way during the holidays, so evergreen playlist staples like Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” (the second highest grossing song of all time) and the super-sentimental “Christmas Time is Here” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio,

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Featured Artist: Jane Weaver

Artist: Jane Weaver

Twitter: @JaneLWeaver

Track: I Need A Connection

Jane Weaver is a transformed woman. After years as a folky, slightly leftfield singer songwriter, her new LP, Silver Globe, sees her taking a full-scale leap into the cosmic void of contemporary space rock, and it’s fantastic. Working as an omnipresent pop figure in her genuinely independent micro-industry Jane Weaver is an example of a passionate and resilient Northern female artist who re-creates, re-invents and refreshes where many others come and go.

Other tracks from Jane Weaver

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Featured Artist: Natalia LaFourcade

Artist: Natalia LaFourcade

Twitter: @lafourcade

Track: Hasta La Raiz

 

Mexican born Natalia LaFourcade has been making music since the late 90’s when she was part of the trio girl band called ‘Twist’. She then decided to go solo at the tender age of 17 releasing her first album in 2003 simply titled Natalia LaFourcade. She has since released 4 other albums, but her biggest breakthrough came with her much acclaimed and personal album to date ‘Hasta La Raiz’ that garnered 6 Latin Grammy nominations and 5 wins including Record of the Year, and Song of the Year for her song ‘Hasta La Raiz’ off the same album. Look for more to come from this amazing singer song-writer from Veracruz.

Other tracks from Natalia LaFourcade

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Can’t quit checking your phone? Neither can these musicians.

It’s official – we can’t function without our phones. According to a recent study, 90% of American adults own a cell phone. And, 67% of those cell phone owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls—even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. In fact, the average cell phone user checks their phone 110 times a day! Based on these statistics, it’s safe to say that we’re addicted to our phones.

Luckily we are not alone. Many of our favorite musicians are feeling the drawn to their phones as well. So much so, in fact, that in 2015 we are seeing and abundance of songs themed almost entirely around cell phones; songs that touch on the way we use cell phones to build relationships (Ariel Pink – “Put Your Number in My Phone”), to end relationships (Beach Day – “Don’t Call Me On the Phone”), or simply the way in which we can’t quit checking them (Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”).

These tracks, as well as other similar cell related songs, are great to consider if you’re running an in-store promotion involving mobile,

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Featured Artist: Gwenno

Artist: Gwenno

Twitter: @gwennosaunders

Track: Chwyldro

Gwenno Saunders is a music producer, DJ, radio presenter and singer from Cardiff. She has just released her debut solo album, ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ following a string of critically acclaimed EP’s – ‘Chwyldro’, ‘Golau Arall’ and ‘Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki / Calon Peiriant’. Y Dydd Olaf takes its name from Welsh writer Owain Owain’s 1976 sci-fi novel about globalization, in which brain-invading robots overpower humanity – save for Welsh speakers, whose thoughts they can’t penetrate.

Other tracks from Gwenno

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Music Discovery: November 2015

Doing a quick google search, you can find a mountain of articles about the resurgence of the 90’s – From InStyle to Buzzfeed and Allure to Pop Sugar; 90’s fashion, art, and music is once again “all that.”

One of our Music Supervisors, Blake Kirpes, has featured four songs, from Pale Honey, DILLY DALLY, Blood Orange, and Diiv, who are all representing the 90’s and its influences, through their music. You can check out these songs as well as many other new releases (both 90’s and non-90’s influenced), chosen by our Music Supervisor team by using the BrandRadio player below.

 

 

Artist: Pale Honey

Twitter: @palehoneyband

Track: Fish

Pale Honey is a Swedish female indie rock duo with an amazing self-titled debut! Their new album sounds completely fresh and new, but it also harkens back to the striped down 90’s albums like PJ Harvey’s “To Bring You My Love,” and 1998’s self-titled debut from a little band called Queens of the Stone Age. It’s dark, it’s dynamic, and it’s got distortion…do you need anything else?

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Featured Artist: Coasts + Dive In

PlayNetwork recently organized live music for Trinity Leeds within their unique street food space, Trinity Kitchen. We had the pleasure of working with two amazing bands, Coasts and Dive In, who performed for the guests.

Coasts have performed on Made in Chelsea, headlined the US, and performed at Coachella. Their track Oceans was Zane Lowe’s “Hottest Record” in the summer, and they were invited to perform on BBC Radio One’s Live Lounge. Their new single You is being released on January 1, 2016 – check out the Spotify exclusive.

Dive In’s latest EP Change in the Weather premiered on Consequence of Sound, and they have performed on the BBC Introducing Stage at T in the Park this year. Listen to their new single Let Go. We like it a lot!

 

Featured Artist Photo 110415

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A Haunted Halloween Playlist, Without the Kid Vibe

Halloween: it’s no longer just for kids. According to a DDB Worldwide study, two in three adults feel that Halloween is a holiday for them, and not just the kids. This relatively new trend has transformed Halloween from a kid-centric holiday, into an $8 billion a year industry (Forbes), and it’s safe to say that figure increases each year.

One of the best ways to add a little Halloween flavor into your brand is by injecting some dark, fun, and spooky “Halloween” songs. The tricky part of appealing to adult’s spooky side, is making sure that you don’t come across as too childish. For instance, many people love the “Monster Mash”, but songs like these can come across as too “kiddy” or cartoony, and may not fit with your brand’s sound.

Thankfully there are a ton of great “Halloween-ish” songs from new and relevant artists that will fit most any branded sound. Many of these songs were not specifically written as an ode to Halloween, but once they’re combined and played together with other songs with a similar vibe, you’ll soon find it hard to listen to them without thinking about Halloween.

 

 

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Life is Beautiful 2015: Desert Music, Vegas Style.

Life is Beautiful Festival – Food, Art, Learning + Music in Downtown Las Vegas.

Festivals come and go, and though it may seem like the market is saturated there are still newcomers pushing through, making sense, and creating something with staying power. Now in its 3rd year, Life is Beautiful (September 25 -27) combines a truly sensory experience across food, art, learning + music to connect with a diverse audience as it stretches across 18 city blocks. Great curation meets excellent programming under the heat of the desert skies. Read more about the entire event on our blog, What About the Space.

Life is Beatiful Photo

 

The app was a welcome tool to have on site, as it allowed users to organize your schedule across all food/music/learning events and create a calendar. The best part? Push notifications 15 mins. before my scheduled acts were about to go on stage. I didn’t miss a thing. BOOM!

Life_Is_Beautiful_App

 

Musically speaking, the soundscape of this 3 day event was layered with indie rock, dance music, hip-hop, and basically any genre-bending crossover stuff you can dream up…from Hozier,

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Featured Artist: Ezra Furman

Artist: Ezra Furman

Twitter: @ezrafurman

Track: Lousy Connection

Ezra Furman’s third album has accomplished something many fail to do – he is self-deprecating, but his witty humor allows a glimmer of optimism. It’s an enlightening journey through the mind of an outsider, but an entirely relatable one. ‘Lousy Connection’ is the first single from the LP, and displays ‘50s doo-wop influences that are a big part of his current sound.

Other tracks from Ezra

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Music Discovery: October 2015

Fall is turning into winter and our Music Supervisors have curated a playlist just for you. One of our Music Supervisors, Gabriel Marowitz, has featured three songs, from Fairground Saints, Strange Faith and Kaleo, that stand out from the hundreds that he hears every month. We are sure you will find these tunes as refreshing as he did.

 

Artist: Fairground Saints

Twitter: @FGSaints

Track: Turn This Car Around

This song starts out sounding pretty Nashville, but ends up being sunny California Country Popgrass. This makes sense, as the group’s debut album was recorded in Malibu and not Music City. This song includes catchy vocals and melodic riffs from guitar, mandolin and banjo, as well as nice string arrangements and fiddle in there too. If they can perform live on those instruments as well as they do on the record, this will be a band to watch.

 

Artist: Strange Faith

Twitter: @tru_thoughts

Track: Walking Over

This Sunday morning easy groove comes from Jeb Loy Nichols across the pond in Wales.

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Featured Artist: Dane Taylor

Artist: Dane Taylor Facebook: Shining Bird Music Track: Lets Float

Dane Taylor is the lead singer in the Australian band Shining Bird who recently had a release on Uber recordings. This solo track captures the essence of the sundrenched, blissed out songs which Uber recordings is based on, and was immediately snapped up for a vinyl release.

More info and music for Dane Taylor

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When Should You Start Playing Holiday Music?

That music blaring out of the speakers of the restaurant, retailer, hotel and airplane you visit? Yep, that is the doing of our music supervisors. While you may not notice every song that is played throughout the year, one thing is for sure: when the holiday songs begin, everyone notices. But when is the right time to start playing holiday music?

This is the hot topic among our brands as they try to nail down the perfect timing of their holiday cheer. While there is no one-size fits all approach to holiday music programming, PlayNetwork’s Dean Carlson, Music Supervisor/Procurement Lead, and Julia Cummings our Director of Music Services are here to help you make sense of the pros and cons of starting the holidays early versus waiting until the holiday season is in full swing.

Should you Jingle all the Way into the holiday season—beginning in October? Or wait until December to put your customers into the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

 

Dean’s Top 3 Reasons to Jingle All the Way

Get their attention! Why wait? Even in late-October, shoppers are in a pre-planning mind-frame;

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Music Discovery: September 2015

Fall is upon us, and our Music Supervisor team is ready to slow down the playlist and transition into a cooler season. One of our Music Supervisors, Blake Kirpes, said “Now that we’ve officially jumped into Fall–my favorite season by a long shot–it’s out with the sweaty summer pop jams and in with rainy melancholic fall tunes. Below are some of our favorite Fall tracks; the kind of songs that soundtrack a rainy weekend spent indoors, or a slow weekend drive through the mountains.”

 

Artist: Kurt Vile

Twitter: @therealkurtvile

Track: “Pretty Pimpin”

This is one of my favorite songs of the year. I love everything about it, especially the lyrics. Their new album “B’lieve I’m Going Down” is out 9/25 on Matador Records

Artist: Pearl Charles

Twitter: @pearl_charles

Track: “I Ran So Far”

I’ve really been liking the new “Pearl Charles” EP. I recently bought this on cassette via one of my favorite labels, Burger Records.

Artist: Ultimate Painting

Twitter: @ult_painting

Track: “Break the Chain”

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PlayNetwork Announces New Blog: What About the Space

From music discovery to customer experience, we’ve always been passionate about activating the space – physical, digital, emotional, and experiential – between brands and consumers.

Today, we’re excited to introduce a new digital property, What About the Space. Through our brand development and creative content studio A440, What About the Space shares our perspectives on how space is being used to enhance customer experience. A unique “feet on the street” perspective guides you through the creative, innovative ways brands are connecting with people—from hands-on experiences, to the store environment, and everything in between.

Tamara Deike, a Brand Development Director on the A440 team at PlayNetwork, shares these points-of-view into how retail, luxury, fashion and hospitality brands are using space to engage and inspire.

Check it out at http://space.playnetwork.com.

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Featured Artist: Leo Kalyan

Artist: Leo Kalyan

Twitter: @leokalyan

Track: Fingertips

Leo Kalyan describes his music as ‘oceanic beats’, with his floaty, electronic sound that definitely makes sense. This Londoners’ vocals are smoky and dazed with a very inventive spin. This track is taken off his EP ‘Silver Linings’, Kalyan describes that ‘Fingertips’ is a song about attempting to escape a memory but never being fully able to shake it off.

Other tracks from Leo Kalyan

 

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Featured Artist: C Duncan

Artist: C Duncan

Twitter: @mrchrisduncan 

Featured Track: Here To There

Chris Duncan is a multi-instrumentalist & artist hailing from Glasgow in the UK. He graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) where he studied music composition. His pieces were performed by various ensembles across the UK. He is signed to acclaimed independent label Fat Cat Records and recorded his first Lp at home in his bedroom studio. His interest in both classical and modern music are evident in the lush choral harmonies and acoustic instrumentation that form the layers of the songs.

Check out some other great tracks from C Duncan: https://soundcloud.com/mrduncan

 

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Music Discovery: August 2015

August may signal the end of summer to some, but for our music supervisors, August is a time for upbeat and cool music that contrasts these long hot days. Among the songs selected by the Global Music Supervision team, four songs have been featured as quintessential summer jams by Music Supervisor, Alex Espinosa.  Check out the playlist, featuring songs from Waster, U R, World Beneath The Sea and Railway Lines.

WIN WIN – “Waster” My first selection comes by New York band WIN WIN. Their song Waster was an exciting fine by way of shopping for music at Amoeba record store while on a business trip. With its buzz worthy chorus, off centered guitar riffs and the not so subtle hand clapping has this track, off of their latest release ‘Primaries’ as a standout for me.

Beach Baby – “U R” My next selection is from the English band Beach Baby. With its shoegaze sound and laid back beach feel, their new single U R reminds me of the days of skipping school to go surfing with best friends. Look for them to tour stateside in the coming fall.

Brave Shores – “World Beneath The Sea” World Beneath The Sea by Canadian brother and sister act Brave Shores entranced my musical senses with their drum loops and synths sounds.

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PlayNetwork is Proud to be a Returning Sponsor for Pianos in the Parks!

What do you get when you take 22 pianos, a bunch of talented and creative artists and 32,000+ acres of Seattle & King County parks? You get Pianos in the Parks – Volume 2!

Once again, PlayNetwork has partnered with a variety of outstanding community partners who are focused on supporting the power of art and music. Featuring 22 pianos donated by Classic Pianos, and designed by Gage Academy of Arts students and Alums, these once landfill destined instruments have been transformed into works of art. These pianos have been placed in parks and public spaces throughout the Greater Seattle area with intent to encourage the community to take a moment, sit down and play! To find a piano near you, visit the Pianos in the Parks website.

This initiative demonstrates many of PlayNetwork’s Core Values by showcasing our appreciation of the arts and local community. As part of the program, we are providing video production services for events throughout the month, in effort to generate awareness and encourage community engagement.

The Pianos in the Parks initiative culminates at the Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheatre as part of the KEXP Concerts at the Mural event in August.

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Music Discovery: Fresh Picks for July

With the Summer Solstice just behind us, our U.S. Music Supervisors thought it would be a great time to pull together some of our favorite songs from late-Spring and early-Summer!

In addition to a few fresh mainstream tracks, our playlist features brand new Indie releases from PINS, Public Access TV, FIDLAR and Wild Ones; Electronic releases from Miami Horror, Neon Indian and Disclosure; as well as wonderful new tracks from recent PlayLive guests The Dip and Cayucas.

We also made sure to include some of this year’s biggest and best Summer Anthems, from artists like Beck, Family of The Year, Icona Pop, and The Weeknd! Check out our playlist below, as well as some of the featured tracks for July!

    PINS – “Young Girls”       Public Access TV – “Metropolis”       Wild Ones – “Dim the Lights”       FILDAR – “40oz on Repeat”  

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Featured Artist: Mura Masa

Artist: Mura Masa

Twitter: @mura_masa_

Featured Track: Firefly (Feat. Nao)

Mura Masa is an up-and-coming producer hailing from Guernsey, UK. His style is very similar to the likes of Disclosure and Peking Duk making it very current and appealing to the current dance based market. This track, ‘Firefly’ features vocalist Nao who competes with the likes of AlunaGeorge for originality in her voice. The track is very upbeat and funky; perfect for summer.

Check out some other tracks from Mura Masa.

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PlayNetwork Wins Four Telly Awards for Branded Entertainment Media Clients: Journeys and FedEx Office

Redmond, WA – 6/2/2015 PlayNetwork and their clients, Journeys and FedEx Office were selected winners in the 35th annual Telly Awards. With nearly 12,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous countries, this is truly an honor.

Founded in 1979, The Telly Awards annually acknowledge the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, and corporate video departments in the world. The awards honor the very best film and video productions, groundbreaking online video content, outstanding local, regional, cable TV commercials and programs.

“The Telly Awards has a mission to honor the very best in film and video,” said Linda Day, Executive Director of the Telly Awards. “PlayNetwork’s work with Journeys and FedEx Office illustrates their creativity, skill, and dedication to their craft and serves as a testament to great film and video production.”

“It’s always a great feeling to be recognized for our work,” said John Crooke, VP of Global Brand Development for PlayNetwork. “ But what’s even more exciting is that these awards are a testament to the impact original content and entertainment media can have on the way our brands connect their story to their audiences,

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Sea-Tac Airport Launches Pearl Jam Poster Exhibit

As a part of the Sea-Tac Airport Experience the City of Music program, the Port of Seattle, EMP Museum, Pearl Jam, and poster artists Ames Bros. unveiled a new exhibit of screen prints commissioned over the years for the promotion of Pearl Jam concerts.

This exhibit, a part of the Experience the City of Music program at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, has been titled, “PUSH ME, PULL ME: Pearl Jam and the Art of the Screen Printed Poster”. 85 posters from over 30 artists—including the Ames Bros., Brad Klausen, Munk One, and Ward Sutton—are all featured in this new exhibit.

When Pearl Jam formed in Seattle in 1990, posters were one of the few ways that a band could communicate with their audience. They were vital to advertising upcoming shows, as well as an important aspect of conveying the identity of the band. Poster art reflected the venues and cities in which the band played, represented the musicians and lyrics, with some even touching contemporary politics. But moreover, these posters illustrated some of Pearl Jam’s core artistic values: the desire to foster a climate of creativity, to act as a patron for the other artists,

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