Our ACL Fest picks for this weekend by Melissa Pepper

Rolling Stone magazine calls Austin City Limits Music Festival "a Texas institution almost on par with South by Southwest." 80,000 music lovers  attend the festival each day. For those market researchers out there who will be joining us in Austin this weekend, we have our picks for you.

Michelle's picks:

Friday - St. Vincent.

She is known for her live performances that break boundaries encompassing many genres.  Her electric energy will be sure to captivate you and make you happy you did not miss her set.

Saturday - Broken Bells

Broken Bells is composed of producer Danger Mouse and James Mercer (the lead vocalist of The Shins) and when they come together it's mellow rhythms and ear pleasing melodies.  Their new album “After the Disco” has a spacy feel and so does their new amazing stage production.

Sunday - Fitz and the Tantrums

A great way to give yourself the energy you need to make it through Day 3 of ACL is to go see Fitz and the Tantrums. Their soulful feel-good jams and audience participation driven performance will keep you dancing.

Terry's picks:

Generally, I’d describe my own musical tastes with the brush painted broadly by the term Americana.  Borrowing from the terrific Dawes song,  “A Little Bit of Everything”, I like rock, pop, blues, some country and a splash of 1930’s jazz. Hence, my chosen ACL Fest destinations for Weekend Two…

Ray Benson & Milk Drive

Ray Benson is a naturalized and treasured Texas icon. Having re-energized the Western Swing tradition handed down by Bob Wills for over 40 years with Asleep At The Wheel, Ray is a fine vocalist, versatile lead guitar player with a well honed and engaging stage presence. His pairing with Milk Drive makes all kinds of sense. Often labeled, “Jazz Grass”,  or “Redneck Gypsy Jazz”, Noah, Dennis, Brian and Jesse are fine vocalists and masters of their many instruments. It’s always great fun for me to witness legacy and immediacy trading licks. Expect compelling ballads and energetic instrumentals, however the spirits are moving them all, early on Saturday afternoon in Zilker Park. 12:15 at the Honda Stage.

Parker Millsap

Much like his fellow young Oklahoman,  John Fullbright, Parker Millsap is getting all kinds of terrific attention and press these days. That’s all big fun and deserved but,  happily for his enthusiastic fans, he seems clearly focused on the musical prize for all, the long haul. At just 21, he Parker has serious singing, playing and songwriting chops and is joyfully making the rounds of festivals all over. He’s opened shows for Old Crow Medicine Show, Patty Griffin and many others. He has a naturally beautiful and wonderfully  versatile  vocal prowess, offers some very compelling original  songs as well as thoughtful, distinctive covers of traditional tunes. We get two chances to see Parker in Austin this weekend.  Yippee! Tonight at Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue at 10:30 and Sunday at the Zilker Tent at 2:15.

Lake Street Dive

I’m following longtime Austin DJ,  SXSW Content developer and all around great-guy-music-aficionado Kevin Connor’s lead here.  Of LSD, Kevin says: “My favorite band at Old Settlers.  My favorite band at Americana Fest. They will cure what ails you (if that's possible) and remind you why you fell in love with music in the first place.”  Often described as solid and infectious vocal and instrumental melding of 60’s Motown and British Invasion tunes.  So, go pile into the crowd to see Lake Street Dive. They fire on all the musical cylinders that underscore the soundtrack of my life, likely yours as well. Friday, 3:15 at the Austin Ventures Stage

The Turnpike Troubadours

Having taken their name from from the Indian Turnpike they traveled so often in between little bitty gigs here and there, these fine fellows have it all going on in the finest tradition of Oklahoma’s “Red Dirt” sound.  Great singing of terrific tunes and musicianship on guitars, fiddle, banjo, upright bass, and yes, drums too; this is serious music making presented in the most fun package. Bringing their stuff to ever larger venues and festivals, TTT play both weekends at ACL Fest 2014. Not too shabby. Perhaps it’s best to end by sharing their own description of the voodoo  these guys do so well. Troubadours' front man Evan Felker:  "This music, at its best, can put into words what we have been thinking for our entire lives, and even at its worst, it gets people drinking beer and makes people happy. Either of those is fine with me." Yup, sign me up. Sun, Oct. 12th | 7:00 - 8:00 PM Austin Ventures Stage

Oculus Rift, the perfect qual research facility? by Melissa Pepper

A holodeck is part of our 10-year plan, seriously, sort of. But with the introduction of the Oculus Rift, we're thinking that 5 years is a real possibility. And after reading this post about Marriott teleporting you to Hawaii via an Oculus Rift, 3 years doesn't seem out of the question.

Imagine an immersive shelf test without setting up actual shelves. Or design testing large appliances with the ability to iterate and without the transportation headaches. Or testing floor plans brought to life. What uses can you think of?


Recruit-hacking by Melissa Pepper

Recruiting these days is a challenge. Incidence rates are low (I mean really low); screening questionnaires are extremely long; algorithms, the latest darlings of marketers, lower the incidence rates and lengthen the questionnaires; consumers are hard to reach; and everybody's budgets are tight. That's why we've chosen to become recruit-hackers, staying nimble and layering solution over solution over solution. Here are five of our successful hacks:

  1. We hire talent and train them to be persuasive and discerning recruiters and creative problem-solving supervisors and project managers. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it's not something we take lightly or put on autopilot.
  2. We are aggressive about growing and maintaining our database.
  3. We are active in the Austin community and the marketing research community so that our fellow Austinites know us and trust us and so do our industry colleagues.
  4. We have pioneered a high tech/high touch approach to recruiting. We start with an online pre-screening survey to quickly get to the folks who likely qualify. And we follow-up with a tailored phone screening that assures we recruit eloquent participants who fit the study profile.
  5. After experimenting with different approaches to using social networks, we have found that curating groups on Facebook and LinkedIn give us the networks and reach we want while maintaining some privacy and control.

We spend time most Fridays brainstorming new hacks because solutions these days have short shelf lives. We evaluate hacks based on ease and cost effectiveness. Our hit rate is about 5%, but our hits keep us in business.