A Celebration Of The Musical Greats We Lost In 2016

When someone we care about passes away, it’s difficult to smile, but it’s important. Celebrating the life that was lived, in addition to mourning the absence of it, can be incredibly therapeutic. In 2016, there were many traumatic events that took place that ranged from trivial to history making, from the presidential race to the death of Vine. We saw some of our favorite musicians pass away, but that doesn’t mean they’re lost to us – we still have the beautiful art they left behind.

We here at LIVV know the importance of great music for every occasion – we’ve even built a company around it so you can take it with you everywhere. Because of that, we thought it important that we celebrate a few of the greats that are no longer with us. Scroll down to stroll down memory lane, and stay to the end for a few emerging artists who can satisfy your craving for new music:

George Michael
The most recent to pass away in the music world, George Michael left behind a legacy of not only great songs but also incredibly generous charitable acts. Our favorite song of his was Freedom, which is the ultimate warm up song at the gym or road trip tune on a long empty expanse:

 

Sharon Jones
Funk and soul queen Sharon Jones lost her battle with pancreatic cancer in November. Her songs and performances are all full of incredible energy and heart, and she always seemed to put her whole self into every piece she sang. Our favorite song is 100 Days, 100 Nights, a classic soul jam that has a great beat for cardio or working late in the office:

Leonard Cohen
We lost this counterculture legend in early November, but he was able to live until the wise age of 82. He was a contemporary of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, and shared the same incredible level of talent. His voice, similar to Johnny Cash, was most known in the song Hallelujah, which we argue is not so much a Christmas classic as a pure classic. We listen to this song during solo yoga sessions, long bike rides and, of course, when we’re in a bit of a mood:

Prince
The King of Pop left behind a very different legacy than the old souls we’ve listed. We doubt we have to remind you of any of his hits, but just in case, he was known for flamboyant, high energy style and of course, the color purple. We love listening to Kiss (especially the extended version) to get energized:

Phife Dawg
Co-founder of the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, Phife Dawg brough philosophical rhymes to all five A Tribe Called Quest Albums, as well as producing his own solo album, Ventilation: Da LP. Check out Oh My God by A Tribe Called Quest next time you need to hit a rhythm in the gym or just in life:

David Bowie
How could we possible make a memorial list without David Bowie? The singer was the hero of misfits, outcasts and strange looking people everywhere – even Tilda Swinton, when she was a young teenager. We love Rebel Rebel while driving or slugging through a difficult task, like olympic lifts or research projects:

There are many more that we weren’t able to cover in this post, but we wanted to salute a great new artist that should be on your radar, especially if you dig these older sounds: Miles Mosley. Rolling Stone explains him as “Lenny Kravitz backed by a killer jazz crew,” and we don’t disagree. He’s been around for a while, but hit it big in 2016, and we couldn’t be happier to add him to our list.

Check out his song, Abraham, next time you need a boost of motivation:


Here’s to more music in 2017!

How Bass Makes Us Happier

Photo Credit: The Future FM

Photo Credit: The Future FM

Music has long been linked to the enhancement of emotions, mood, and performance—tuning artists, athletes, and even business people into better frame of minds and bursts of confidence. Back in 2007, the USA Track & Field association created a ban on the use of headphones and portable audio players at all official races in an effort “to ensure safety and to prevent runners from having a competitive edge.” The rule was amended within a year, as a direct reaction to the recognition that the right music and headphones could greatly increase a runner’s success rate.

Evidence shows that a boost in confidence needed for success can come straight from the buds playing bass in our ears. In fact, a recent study revealed that bass-heavy songs can induce mindsets of authority and power — meaning a great pair of headphones matched with a strong playlist can make for quite a productive Monday.

Today, researchers are finding that electronic dance music— as is the case with most genres that are naturally defined by their heavy bass— can impact a listener’s emotional state. Check out what happens to you when the bass drops:

Mood Enhancement

Listening to music to get your mind off of your troubles isn’t exactly a new concept. In fact, research has found that most people pull on their headphones and turn up the music as a way of resetting their emotions and tuning into their own self-awareness. Turning up the bass on tunes can allow a listener to escape their plateau and reflect on their own interests and pursuits. With bass music generating a feeling of empowerment to a listener, songs with bass can be an important component during these reflection periods. Giving a listener a sense of empowerment, bass can turn these low mood or feelings of self-consciousness into positive ones that seek inspiration.

Mind Stimulation

Think about how likely it is for you to walk into a rave or club and hear the tunes of EDM hits rather than the classical sounds of Beethoven.

Songs with generous bass and high melodic energy can be the most contagious when it comes to getting motivated to move your feet. Music with an emphasis on bass can release “happy neurotransmitters” such as dopamine and oxytocin in the brain putting a listener into a completely different mind frame. These neurotransmitters work to spark a person’s pleasure center and can prompt music listeners to focus the release of their gained energy on physical movement.

Reduction of Stress

The use of music to reduce stress has been well-established and has also been effectively used as a stress management tool. Listening to music can have an immense impact on our states of mind, especially when it is heavily influenced by a bass. The strong pulse of EDM music (a genre whose bass notes radiate with force) can have a beneficial effect on physiological functions as a listener’s heart rate and pulse work to mimic its sounds internally.

Music, specifically the kind that has considerable bass, can trigger the release of biochemical stress reducers and combat a person’s stress levels. Put simply, your body interprets the bass beats as heartbeats, and matches them, similarly to how it matches the heart rate of someone you are near.

Sound Sleep

Whether it’s work-related stress, thoughts that seem to wrestle with others, or simply anticipation for what tomorrow brings, everyone has experienced the inability to get a catch Z’s in bed at some point. Most people find that the cure for such distractions is diverting attention to an unrelated one that can keep their minds off of current concerns.

More so than sheep counting, music has consistently proven itself as a panacea for restless nights.  Research has proven that music can reduce various factors, including stress and anxiety which can interrupt a person’s resting state. Songs with heavy bass stimulate physical change such as lowered heart and can help avert our attention to an abstract focus allowing us to vanquish stressors and avoid Insomnia.

Better Work Out

Exercise is another key to happiness that has long been touted as a method for reducing stress, improving sleep and boosting mood. There’s a reason why gyms amp up the music in Zumba and Spin classes, it pushes exercisers and trainers to charge through a tough workout and complete the course.

Next time you’re looking to change your mood or your energy level, try putting on music that matches before reaching for coffee or intoxicants. It really does work!

How to Power Through Slumps At Work

Holiday employee office worker acting happy and silly

With all of the planning, shopping and running around involved with the holiday season, it’s easy to run out of fuel at work. The holidays are a mentally draining and distracting time of year that can truly affect your focus and overall work productivity. Boost your energy and increase your motivation this holiday season — and any time of the year— by checking out these 6 ways to get through without allowing your brain to melt into your hot cocoa.

Resist Multitasking

Think of your brain as a smartphone. While it’s capable of running various “apps” at a time, it has a limited amount of RAM. Too many open apps and it won’t run nearly as well if you had just one open. When your attention is split between various cognitive tasks (i.e. meetings, project deadlines, holiday planning, shopping lists) your brain can become mentally exhausted and burn out. Boost up your energy at the office by minimizing your distractions and avoiding the urge to multitask. If you can eliminate meetings during the holiday season, take them off of your calendar. Avoid coupling work tasks and crossing off your holiday shopping list by setting work deadlines for yourself. Keep yourself accountable to them by giving the deadlines to a work partner or boss who can help you stay on task. Even getting all of your gift shopping done at once by taking a weekend day or work evening to online shop can go a long way.  

Dodge Debbie

Everyone who goes to work in an office knows someone like Debbie. She’s filled with holiday glee and radiates positive festive cheer with her candy cane sprinkled muffins and gingerbread cookies, but the truth is, her sugars and treats are a downer. All of her sugar and sweets will have you souring one moment and crashing at your desk the next. Ramp up your energy at work by avoiding the Christmas gift baskets when they make their round to your desk. Instead, opt for foods and drinks that will keep you productive in the workplace. Munch on snacks like almonds or cashews and go for healthy carbs like yams and carrots.

Be Clean

Getting sick can be the sniffly sniper of productivity in the office and cause a dip in your work rate faster than you can say the word “influenza.” Unfortunately, there’s always someone in the office who will bring in the office holiday bug. Decrease your likelihood of catching an illness by keeping your workspace clean, getting enough sleep at home, and ramping up your immune system with a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables. Following these steps, plus other helpful health tips, can help in decreasing an illness-related drop in your productivity. And if you’re sick, do your workmates a favor and call out!

Get Outside

Season Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a huge problem in the winter months for almost 5 percent of adults in the United States, though you don’t need a prescription to know that being indoors all the time can leave you a bit melancholy. Symptoms include depression, fatigue and odd sleeping patterns that can be extremely taxing. When the sun is blocked during the winter months and it gets dark before you’re out of the office, Seasonal Affective Disorder can lead to depression.

Help yourself by combating SAD by heading out of the office when the rays are still out, even if it’s just for a brisk walk at lunch. Suggest your team do it’s morning 10 minute outside, or go for a quick breath of fresh air during that coffee break. Dipping outside for a quick walk can do good for your fitness as well especially since, try as you may, Debbie’s muffin basket can be easy to give into.

Embrace The Holiday Cheer

Let’s face it, everybody loves Elf on the Shelf, candles, holiday wreaths and mini Santa Clauses. While too many decorations can be distracting, getting a little festive in the office can keep the spirits up for the office worker who feels overwhelmed or unmotivated. This year, make the decision to not let the holidays get you down by suggesting a work holiday party, stocking seasonal drinks in the communal fridge, or planning after-work excursions to nearby ice rinks. Setting a time to mingle and have fun with your coworkers might just be the boost of morale your team needs.

Get Musical

You don’t actually have to head out with the locals and sing “Joy To The World” from door to door, but embracing the holiday season with some tunes can go a long way.  In fact, scientific research has found listening to music can release the “feel good” neurotransmitter, dopamine, which can do quite a number on lifting your spirits. After you’ve powered through and finished a task, pop in your headphones and give yourself 15 minutes to listen to some music to get you motivated. Keep your brain on its toes by trying out a new song. Try out an oldie with a newbie twist and check out Pentatonix’s “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”  It’s the perfect holiday tune for a cappella nerds.  

Headphones: A Pillar of Western Society

Photo Credit: James Drury

Photo Credit: James Drury

Consumer tech has some drama it’s gossiping about: Apple has failed to release it’s AirPod headphones in time for the holiday season, after making them the centerpiece of the last unveiling event. This marks a rare misstep for Apple, and one of the few soils on an otherwise perfect marketing record. Oh, and very likely several hundred thousand dollars in lost sales.

But why does everyone care? Why is so much at stake for a pair of headphones? They aren’t even the fancy kind that has a built in mp3 player – they’re just earbuds.

Earbuds are never just earbuds. Headphones are as much a part of fashion as they are required tools for navigating an increasingly crowded and loud world – but they haven’t always been this way.

Previous to 2001, headphones were not fashion – they were just a way to listen to music without bothering people, or shut out noise. However, that year, Apple released the iPod, and with it, the white earbud became a statement that you were An Apple User. They became a statement that you were part of a club, and they became ubiquitous.

This started the craze for fashion-forward headphones, but it did not really come into its own until 2008, when Beats by Dre launched. Technically, the headphones were nice, but nothing terribly special – but they sounded amazing to those who had been listening with Apple’s original plastic nubs for years. The bass-heavy sound appeals to a massive audience of casual listeners – and the focus on fashion, celebrity endorsement and general bling convinces 11% of headphone users (most people, especially younger) to shell out hundreds on them. They redefined marketing for an entire industry – no wonder Apple bought them.

Beats by Dre solidified that the look and perceived status of a pair of headphones was just as important as the actual quality of the sound they produced when pricing them. However, some would argue that Beats by Dre has actually “expanded the market for higher quality headphones,” not ruined it, by raising the acceptable price of a pair of cans.

Adding to this evolution of the headphone industry is the explosion in popularity of the open office concept, which made news a few years later in 2013 as it hit the mainstream. As many of you, dear readers, know, this plan doesn’t actually help with productivity unless you work in an extremely collaborative industry. Even then, privacy is often needed when buckling down and digging your feet into an assignment.

Enter: headphones as a social cue. To the point where some people don’t even bother playing music, they just put them on when they want to be left alone.

Headphones being used as a social cue, as well as being an important part of most people’s’ daily outfits, has made the technology a pillar of Western society by becoming part of how we communicate. It also means that there are more options than ever before – from $1 pairs at the drugstore for when you forget your favorite pair, $300 ones custom built for audiophile athletes who need perfect sound to push for their next PR, to $1 million custom-made fashion statements for celebrities.

I dare you to look around at your office and see how many people do not have headphones on or around their person. Now check the gym, and the local running path. Even when we’re at home, we generally have a pair somewhere within arms reach.

There’s another metamorphosis brewing in this market: the appreciation for truly great quality headphones that still look great. Sony mastered the price, Apple mastered the exclusivity, Beats by Dre mastered the fashion, and Sennheiser mastered the perfect sound. But there is a growing demand for headphones that are beautiful, functional and affordable, that only a few manufacturers truly meet at this time (we like to think we’re one of them). We’re excited to see how the landscape of concentrating heads in our offices, gyms and commutes changes over time, and can’t wait to see what’s next in the industry.

3 Ways Athletes Stay Focused – And How You Can Too

livv_focus

Have you ever wondered what the difference was between those who went pro, and those that still just throw the football around on Sundays with friends? It’s not hard to guess: focus. But how do you actually give 100% of your attention to the task at hand?

If a goal isn’t your key priority, it won’t get done – that’s just a fact of life. That’s not to say any goal is less worthy than another; if you had talent in a sport when you were a teen, and chose to pursue a professional career, a rich family life, or both, those are all valid pursuits. But I doubt you wonder why you weren’t drafted to the professional leagues!

As Will Smith famously said, “hard work trumps talent, every time.” But it’s easy to have every intention of putting in the work, only to be derailed by distractions. So what do professional athletes do to stay focused and motivated? Here are the top three principles they follow:

Find Music That Centers You

You see it on TV almost every weekend. In the lead up to a big sports event or game, be it the NFL, NHL, MBA or even an MMA match, you’ll see the NFL Patriot’s Tom Brady or the NBA Cavalier’s LeBron James getting off the plane or training, head engulfed in a set of state-of-the-art, over-ear headphones. But why?

The answer is simple: they’re staying focused.

By tuning out distractions and staying focused on what they have in front of them, they’re able to stay motivated, train harder, and ultimately, perform better. Winners are less distracted. Think about it – when was the last time you saw or heard about a titan of industry, a celebrity or a professional athlete that was easily distracted from their job? Ever seen one of the greats accidentally waste twenty minutes checking Twitter because they lost their drive?

Great headphones paired with great music is a proven strategy to improve productivity for anyone, which is why you’ll see every major athlete – and most effective professionals in any industry – sporting a pair of high quality headphones.

But, as much as we’d love to say otherwise here at LIVV, there’s more to staying focused than just the right music:

Privacy Promotes Productivity

So why does music help productivity? Your first answer may be that the beat gets you energized, and that’s true, but there’s a more important one: privacy helps productivity. It’s a fact that many office planners have had to come to grips with in the past few years, as the trend of open-offices peaked – and many companies found that constant noise and chatter just didn’t work for their needs. Many other office planners are still struggling with this realization.

Headphones, especially over-ear headphones, promote privacy both by blocking out sound, and serving as a social cue to those around you that you’d rather not be disturbed. It’s not that the people wearing them are indifferent or antisocial. But there is a very good chance they’re intent on the task at hand.

Visualization Really Works

Have you ever been told to picture yourself at your goal? Did you think it was a silly thing to do? Well, guess what, it isn’t!

Visualizing yourself completing a task is scientifically proven to help in many scenarios, especially physical. Think of visualization as a way to give your central nervous system a dry run practice session, without actually exhausting your body.

However, if your task is mental, visualization can still work. For example, if you’re trying to finish a tedious task, such as data input or research, picture yourself focusing – and finishing. Focus on that feeling of completion, but don’t mentally reward yourself with it until you’ve actually finished.

If you’re working on a task that needs approval from another person, visualize yourself as them, as they’re approving your work. This can be anything from a doctorate, where you’d likely visualize yourself as part of the committee approving, to a viral marketing campaign, where you’d imagine yourself sharing the content. By visualizing the person who approves, you’ll be less likely to forget a key requirement, and will be better suited to imagining how you can produce the best outcome possible.

Make A Habit Of It

The accepted statistic is that it takes 21 days of continued routine to form a habit. The common wisdom is that if you’re applying that statistic when thinking about an activity, it’s probably going to at least kind of suck for those first few weeks, and then it will start getting better. You’ll either learn to enjoy and find meaning in The Thing – usually true of exercise, healthy eating and productive hobbies – or you’ll at least stop focusing on disliking it, if it’s something more in line with being diligent with household chores or flossing.

So why prolong the pain? The best athletes, and the highest achievers in society do the thing they’re good at most day, not just a few times a year. If you want to learn to enjoy running, for example, you wouldn’t only run once a week! Everyone knows intuitively that would be slow torture, and that running three to five times a week would be much easier.

Feeling prepared? Put on those headphones, blast your favorite music, picture your goal – now go practice!

Moving Past Stalemates: What Every Athlete Can Learn From Tyron Woodley

On Saturday, welterweight world champion Tyron Woodley narrowly defended his belt from Stephen Thompson, but was denied a win from the judges. Despite having landed multiple hits, including a near-knockout and guillotine choke, Thompson was still able to connect several times with impressive power.

The fight was so close that Thompson has already begun arguing for an instant rematch, and will likely get it – if he can convince Woodley to accept over a match with Conor McGregor, who recently teased about moving up in weight class.

So what can we, as everyday people and athletes, take away from this fight and Tyron Woodley’s career?

Keep Fighting, Keep Moving Forward

There are times you will be matched so evenly with an opponent that conquering may be unlikely or impossible. However, that is not a reason to give up and submit. Continue to defend yourself and your accomplishments, and win the respect of those around you.

Professionalism Wins Every Time

After the fight, after Woodley had successfully defended his title but had not landed another win, lightweight champion Conor McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez and demanded that UFC bring out another belt. The UFC had no choice but to borrow Woodleys. Given the tension between the two men that has been building for weeks, it would have been understandable for Woodley to refuse; however, he’s never forgotten that he’s really a part of the entertainment industry, and that preserving his relationship with the UFC is critical to his career.

Woodley told MMA Fighting, “”I’m a good businessman. I love [UFC Vice President of Athlete Development] Reed Harris. Reed Harris is the man. He’s always shot me straight, good or bad, and I love Reed Harris.”

Woodley set a great example of the importance of recognizing when a situation that could be interpreted as an insult is really just the product of necessity, and to stand down and move on. Woodley could have started a negative story about himself by fighting the favor – instead, he opted to take the high road, and won respect because of it.

Stay Humble, Don’t Let Hubris Ruin You

Arguably one of the main reasons that Woodley has been able to defend his title has been because he never relents in his training, or lets his wins get to his head. He told Columbia Daily Tribune that “people who aren’t in the sport that imagine winning a world title, they think, ‘If I had it, I’d wear it to the store. I’d be walking around naked with it.’ Everybody thinks it would be this trophy that you hold on high. Some fighters do that.

A photo posted by Tyron Woodley (@twooodley) on

“I just feel like now the real work starts. Now that I got this belt, I went from being the hunter, the guy with the sniper rifle looking for the top guy, to being the guy who everybody wants a piece of. I’m the one with the red dot on me. I need to make sure I do what I need to do and I train for this welterweight championship. Now it’s time to work smarter. Now it’s time to really separate myself from the rest of the division and make it very visible that it’s levels, and I’m on a different level.”

As an everyday athlete, it’s important to strive to cultivate the same mentality – whether it’s continuing to check your form even after you hit numbers in the weight room you used to dream of, run faster than you ever have before, or simply realize that you’ve become the person that others come to for advice in your sport. Stay humble, or risk the consequences.

Listen To Great Music To Stay Motivated

Woodley spends hours every week training, and works at a pace that would burn out many others. One way that he stays motivated is by listening to great music – namely hip hop. He grew up with the greats, such as 2Pac, OutKast and The Notorious B.I.G., but still loves to discover new music and is far from set in his ways.

One new song that he loves listening to as he trains is “Permission” by Ro James:

Woodley has also been feeling Raury lately – a new artist who he compares to a young Andre 3000:

What did you think of the fight on Saturday? Are you inspired to train harder after watching Tyron Woodley’s powerful moves? Should McGregor and Woodley be matched?

 

Welcome to LIVV

When you’re working out, you’re most likely listening to music through earbud headphones. How do I know this? If you look at any ranking of active headphones, every spot is taken by in-ear equipment, even though over-ear headphones deliver the best sound.

But what if you’re sick of losing earbuds? What if you don’t want to fumble with cords?

What if you want intense, high quality sound without sacrificing your workout?

All of these questions have lead us to found LIVV, and bring the first premium over-the-ear headphone option that is non-restrictive, secure, water resistant and beautiful. They won’t fall off, there are no small parts to lose, and there are no cords. You don’t even need to carry your phone with you, as they even have built in memory.

If you’re here, that means you’re excited about the disruption we’re bringing to the headphone industry, and we’re thrilled to have you along for the ride. We’re going to keep you updated on brand and product news here, but you’ll also find so much more. We’ll be looking at new music, audio technology, sports and more – the information you care about, all in one place.

We’re proud to present the first LIVVFree Audiophile News Flash Update, chock full of great content from around the web, tailored for those who Live Free:

Music

Complekt by Landing  

We’re loving the new track from Connecticut based Landing, who are firmly in the space-rock genre. It’s impossible to not want to demolish a workout while listening to this track:

Great Music Can Mend A Broken Heart…As Well As A Broken Body

South Korean scientists have confirmed what we already knew – music can help us manage pain, and even reduce the level of pain we perceive. So whether you’re the victim of misdirected affection, or a misdirected vehicle, pop in your favorite tunes to help the pain ease faster. At LIVV, we knew this instinctively – which is why we created headphones that allow you to take your music everywhere.

Audio Technology

Soon You’ll ‘Shop Sounds

We all know Adobe as the makers of Photoshop, the iconic photo editor that’s most of the way to joining the leagues of Kleenex, Rollerblade and Xerox as eponyms for their products. However, they announced today that they’re working on a “photoshop for sound,” dubbed VoCo.

At the moment, the software focuses on voice overs, but it’s not hard to imagine the possibilities that it holds for music.

Apple Logic Gets A Face Lift in 2017

For audio engineers and hobbyists everywhere, this is a pretty exciting announcement: Apple’s Logic audio editor will become much more visually accessible in 2017, as it will appear on the MacBook Pro Touch Bar, an already proven tool with other editing software, such as Final Cut Pro.

Sports

Get Inspired

If you’re looking to get inspired, don’t miss Oakland Raiders’ punter Marquette King’s autobiographical piece in The Player’s Tribune. The star describes the first time he was on the field in a major arena, prejudices he experienced throughout his life that made him stronger through life lessons, and how football has affected his approach to life in general.

Learn From The Pros

Jack Slack of Vice broke down the fight between Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez, move by move. It’s incredible to re-watch each attack, and is coupled well with Slack’s commentary intertwined throughout. This great piece would give any MMA fighter insight into how they can improve their own techniques.

Workout Tips

Earn Your Turkey and Pie

New data suggests that, during a week of binging – such as the upcoming holidays – much of the damage can be significantly reduced by continuing to exercise throughout. That’s right, even if you have no plans of limiting yourself to just one slice of pie, if you still go for your morning run, you’ll be much better off.

Proper Programming for Weight Progression

Weightroom celebrity Brian Alsruhe of TNation delivered an incredibly detailed video over the weekend on how he set up his linear progression program over the past decade. The video is laid out to cover three months at a time, and he explains how each exercise is decided upon, as well as how he creates splits that are highly effective and prevent overuse injuries.

 

 

Thank you again for reading our first blog post, and come back next week for everything you need to know about bringing your workouts to the next level with the best workouts, the best music, and the best inspiration.

Vocativ: Helmets to LIVV Headphones

Mark Clayton had a candid conversation with Vocativ‘s Joe Lemire about the story behind LIVV’s inception and his passion for music growing up. Mark has always enjoyed engineering and told the story about his lunch with audio entrepreneur Dale Lott, who was initially skeptical of the headphone design. Mark won him over after lunch and soon realized he has something great on his hands.

Helmets To Headphones: An Ex-NFLer Takes On A $2 Billion Industry