Opening up a new bottomless marketplace for indie music. Speeding up workflow by aggregating quality curated music.
I created this product over a few months based on insights gleaned from several rounds of user research that I conducted. It’s a music licensing desktop app designed for commercial editors and directors and advertising agencies. One unique feature of this app is that it is also a single page widget that allows a user to upload their own music that they get from different sources, such as a music licensing house or their intellectual community, and to take this playlist and video audition it with the rough cut of the video footage. It creates a streamlined and quick workflow for doing this. These were the challenges and opportunities that I identified:
Good Music is Everything
Music sets the rhythm of the story and establishes mood and emotional content. When a commercial is cut down from 90 seconds to 60, 30, or 15 seconds long, finding the right music is essential to the success of the spot. The current workflow of locating and auditioning music is many hours long and a tedious guessing game.
Opportunity: Sync Licensing
When going after a broad commercial audience, the music should have a pop sensibility. One might not be able to license out a top 40 hit song, but in doing my research, I found there is a gap: there is plenty of quality trending “indie” music out there, but currently, the majority is not readily searchable and licensable. What’s missing is a curated platform to support this. Think Bandcamp for licensing!
Client: Got Music?
Project: Product Design, User Experience Design and Research
Online: Please scroll down to view selected project files.
Following are explanations and screen captures of my process for creating a Music Licensing app called Got Music?
Overview of My Process
This is an overview of my entire process. It details my research and methods for how I arrived at my final product.
I began the process with a competitive analysis to learn more about and to survey the field of music licensing. At this point, I only knew that I wanted to work with commercial editors and directors as a user group and with indie music as a field of study.
Interviewing My Target Audience
I was able to locate and interview several commercial editors and directors who work for advertising agencies on million dollar+ budget commercials. To have a range of users, I also interviewed someone who works on lower budget videos and films as a representative of a non-industry user.
While a typical interview only takes 15 minutes, the people I interviewed were generous with their time and gave me 45 minutes to an hour each so that I was able to really dig in and gain some insights into what they do, including their frustrations, aspirations, and feelings.
Revisit Competitive Analysis
Having gained a better understanding of the field through the interviews, I now had a better idea of user needs. I was able to simplify and target my competitive analysis.
Grouping Their Statements Through Affinity Mapping
Next, I performed a process called Affinity Mapping. I took all the statements from my interviews and grouped them according to common ground. Seeing all these statements clustered in groups on post-it notes on a whiteboard helped to focus my understanding of their job function. The spacial representation of this proved to be invaluable for gaining insights and learnings.
My target user had major pain points and frustrations. I was also able to identify a big market opportunity.
Persona / Target User
I created a persona or character to embody a typical user. Creating “Maria” allowed me to get closer to the problem. It allowed me to “care” in a more specific way by collapsing the distance between myself and the user group. I treated Maria as a real person with a history, with motivations, and with real frustrations and goals and feelings.
Identifying a Problem to Solve
Having a target person made it easier to locate the real problem by providing a context.
Ideating to Arrive at a Solution
I used several techniques to get me closer to a solution for Maria. I created storyboards of scenarios she faced and her journey towards resolution. I used How Might We statements to look at Maria’s need from different angles. Finally, I visually brainstormed by sketching quick ideas, both off the top of my head and “way out there,” as well as ideas that made more sense from a technical execution point-of-view. I used a thick Sharpie marker throughout these techniques to prevent me from being too precious with specific ideas. The point of these exercises was to quickly come up with as many solutions as possible.
This is What I Made
My solution to Maria’s problem was a single page app that allowed her to perform any one of three separate tasks on the path to finding a track of music to license: You can search by keywords; you can filter by mood, tempo, genre and instrumentation; or you can upload your own music from your local computer into a playlist. Once a playlist is created, it begins a workflow that streamlines video auditioning music with video footage. You can quickly see and hear how a track of music goes with your video.
I made a paper prototype as a quick way to test my idea with the people I had been interviewing for my research. I went back over the design and tested several times before arriving at what I have now: a single page app. User testing led me to a solution that made more sense visually and economically in terms of flow. The page elements would load dynamically on one page. Some notable features include the ability to upload music and video and sync them.
Testing provided feedback, such as the need for a prominent start button, and provided validation that my app solved a real need. It also flagged concerns that my test subjects had, such as the need for security for the uploaded videos which had million dollar budgets.
Low Fidelity Wireframes and a Low Fidelity Prototype
Feeling confident with my paper prototype, I translated it into low fidelity wireframes created in Omnigraffle and a low fidelity clickable prototype live on Invision. When I tested this on my research subjects, there seemed to be a big disconnect. I did not get many comments and people seemed underwhelmed. This is in contrast to the enthusiasm I got from my paper prototype. Everyone wanted to click on or scrub through the video or play the audio, but in a low fidelity prototype you have to use your imagination to visualize what these features do.
High Fidelity Prototype
From testing my low fidelity prototype, I learned that for a multimedia application, users need to actually see and experience the video and audio. There was a big leap that needed to occur. This could only happen in a high fidelity prototype. I decided to create this.
I used a website called Bubble.is which allows you to build apps that can be launched online. Bubble.is renders real code for common features, for example a Google Maps or Tinder-style swipping feature, in a drag-and-drop format. I created a high fidelity prototype with real youTube video feed, real audio play capability, a file upload function, and drop down menus for filtering by keywords. The research subjects would have the immediate gratification of being able to play the audio, and scrub through and watch the video. This would make it more real for them. I was able to get further validation and also useful feedback.