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Social Media Interaction between USF and its Students

Interview audio:

A group project that analyses what people have been saying about Taco Bell online.

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Gabe Lopez, owner and founder of Brave Nu Digital

“I don’t need some fancy office,” said Gabe Lopez, 23, as he walked inside of the Borders on Dale Mabry Saturday morning and took out his laptop.

Since August of 2009, Lopez has worked from home and in various coffee shops on his start-up creative business, Brave Nu Digital, offering services like identity branding and web and print design to his clients. Lopez also shoots his own photography and film footage.

Lopez decided to start his own business after a short stint of working for Fourth Door Creative in Tampa. He worked 14 hours a day at that agency until he “started smelling some fishiness.” He felt like he was paid less, yet had more responsibility than the other employees.

Lopez spends most of his time working inside Borders in lieu of an office.

“I realized I could do this on my own,” Lopez said.

Then he began building his own network of clients.

One might expect Lopez to hold an advertising degree, but he’s never set foot in a university classroom. He attended Manatee Community College in Bradenton, Fla., for a year and a half, but thought he was “shooting himself in the foot” financially trying to pay for school. Instead of a traditional education, Lopez chose to sharpen his branding and design skills through online tutorials and shadowing Keith Burnson, who is an art director for an advertising firm in St. Pete.

Burnson, 29, is a friend and business partner of Lopez. He described Lopez as “a rare breed for someone his age for how successful he is.”

“There’s nothing he can’t do,” Burnson said. “He’s like a prodigy.”

But even with Brave Nu Digital’s gaining momentum, Lopez’s family still pressures him to go back to school.

“It’s tough trying to live up to his success,” Lopez said about his father, who came to America with nothing, didn’t know any English and eventually obtained a master’s degree.

Lopez, however, stays confident in his decision not to complete college. He feels his drive to succeed and passion for “pioneering a company’s brand from the ground up” is enough.

“I’m freaking hungry,” Lopez said.

Lopez routinely gathers images with his digital camera for use in his advertising and art.

At times when business is slow, Lopez likes to experiment with digital art to keep his creative juices constantly flowing. Pieces that he creates end up on posters or T-shirts and sold in the store on his website. While he just shipped an order to California, Lopez claims the store has nothing to do with making money.

“I just wanted a platform to display my art,” he said.

Displaying his work on his website also allows Lopez to get affirmation and feedback from viewers.

Once, an Auburn University graduate looking for work sent his resume to Lopez. To an outsider, Lopez’s mostly one-man show looks much larger and polished than it actually is.

“I was naked in my room on a beanbag eating Cheetos,” Lopez said about receiving the e-mail. “It’s not what you think.”

(This post is a personality profile written for my Beginning Reporting class.)

The lovely Florence Welch

I just wanted to take a moment to applaud Florence + the Machine, a favorite of mine for awhile, for her performance last night. Any expectation I had for her was obliterated by her vocal talent. She’s got some major pipes on her, and I was blown away hearing her live.

What made me even happier was that MTV gave an unknown artist in the US performance time on their main stage. I’m surprised they didn’t put Justin Bieber in her place.

It’s awesome that her record label was able to score this gig for her. They really had to when it boils down. The London-native songstress already has a 4x platinum record in the UK, plus she won the “Mastercard Album” BRIT Award (the GRAMMYs of the UK) and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. If her label didn’t back her for her US debut, they would be idiots.

“Dog Days Are Over” was a previously unknown track to most Americans, but her performance has catapulted the song out of obscurity to No. 5 on the iTunes singles chart and her record Lungs has reached No. 2 on the albums chart. Hopefully Florence will keep climbing.

Gaga's shocking performance of "Paparazzi" at last year's VMAs

This situation reminds me of last year’s VMAs when Lady Gaga shocked everyone with her performance of “Paparazzi.” Once the performance aired, the track rocketed to No. 1 on iTunes and began getting tons of radio airplay. In my opinion, this track wouldn’t have had the chart success it did on it’s own, but the performance made it relevant in pop culture.

This just shows the power live performances have. In a time of declining record sales and disposable pop music, live performances are the one stronghold artists have in the short attention span of music consumers.

So artists, take note: if you create an engaging experience for your audience, they will respond positively. How many other artists do you see in the top twenty who also performed last night?

Watch the performance here

The funeral procession...

Or so thinks Microsoft. Today the company held a funeral and memorial service for the two devices to celebrate the manufacturing release of the Windows 7 phone.

This “funeral” consisted of Microsoft employees carrying giant iPhone and Blackberry props down a street in Redmond followed by a parade of gorillas, zombies, princesses and an angel in a jacuzzi. Oh yeah, then they all did the Thriller dance.

As weird as a pseudo funeral might sound, the event was clever. From a public relations perspective, Microsoft generated a genuine buzz around their product. I think this was an awesome way to get people aware and excited about the arrival of MS’s new phone.

However, I do think Microsoft will run into some problems with their cockiness. The public hasn’t even gotten their hands on the phone, and Microsoft hasn’t had the best track record with phones. To proclaim the death of two leading mobile device producers might be hyperbolic. But that’s just coming from a guy who already loves his iPhone.

new kylie video

Posted: September 3, 2010 in music
Tags: , ,

“Get Outta My Way” was one of my favorite tracks from Kylie Minogue’s new album, Aphrodite. The vid is fun and sexy, plus the choreography is super cute.

I absolutely loved the opening sequence with all the dancers on the floor. It’s nice to see some creativity in pop clips.