Researcher, Strategist, UI Designer

What started off as a simple rapid prototyping project, developed into a deeper concept for a niche of people: Amateur Music Producers. I interviewed a classmate about a hobby, discovered a problem worth solving and then moved forward with the best solution for it.

The Client

Zulma is a young woman who just moved back to Chicago from living in Asia working as an artist & part-time DJ. She is now going back to school to be able to take her art to the next level. With learning how to plan for the daily commute to school, adjusting to a strict time schedule, and trying to eat healthier, it’s hard for her to focus on her second passion — music production. Having to be stationary, in her room, completely focused on finding and constructing a track just doesn’t seem realistic anymore with this new, busy lifestyle. Setting aside time to even sleep is becoming difficult, much less focus on something creatively taxing.


The Problem with Music Production

Personally, I know nothing about about the process of music production. So, after doing a short amount of online research, I made a simple mind map to layout all of my thoughts. From here I was a able to come up with questions to ask my client in an interview. These questions were focused around the process of making music — the emotional sides of it, where she typically sets up, overall frustrations, etc..



Quotes and Images of interview questions:


"Capture in-moment sounds."

"Communicate Ideas."

"The quest for knowledge."

"Platform for getting constructive criticism."

"Dropbox for music."

Insights from Interviews

1. Setting Matters for music production artists.

2. Staying organized is a challenge when artists get in the 'zone.'

3. It's hard to know what sound is desired .

4. It would be nice to receive feedback faster.

5. Knowing whether or not a track is going to work over various speaker outlets.



The First Solution

Create a mobile app that would allow her to collect and store music clips and samples, reach out to other artists for constructive criticism, and be able to test finished tracks for different speaker outlets.


1. Have a database full of clips, samples and tracks from other artists.

2. Have the ability to message these artists and ask for feedback.

3. Have an algorithm that tests the balance of tracks and makes sure that it coincides with the chose output speaker.


This solution still felt very surface level. It wasn’t solving a problem and seemed like more of a random assortment of solutions compiled into one product. None the less, I ran the idea passed my client. Her feedback was simple and was all I needed to finally realize the actual problem at hand.


"I enjoy finding music and searching — That part is fun to me."

Then it hit me

The process of finding and collecting music was fun — that reined true probably for every artist. That was part of the creative process and couldn’t be interrupted. The problem was not about finding music, it was about when/where she found music. Inspiration could hit anywhere.


Final Solution

Design a cyclical, "cloud based" desktop & mobile application to assist in the process of music production in order to increase productivity for amateur and professional artists. The root of the problem for my client was that inspiration could hit anywhere at any time (ex: at home, on the bus or at work). Finding music was a hectic process and she had to remember where and how she saved all her downloaded or created samples. But the issue was when she wanted to go back to it and start creating music — she couldn’t find the sample or remember what sound inspired her. She needed a way to keep track of her sounds, clips and samples so she could have them with her when/where ever inspiration struck. An application that works around her, wherever she is, and through the entire production process.


Initial Wireframes and a User Flow:


The Features

Based off user feedback, these were the main features that increased productivity during the music production process.


Melody & Beat Audio Search for all platforms

Based off of user testing of the initial prototype, people still felt that finding music wasn't any faster than sifting through files. Someone had mentioned having something like the Shazam app that recognized music and searches for samples that way. I tested this idea with other users and 98% of them used this instead of the search bar or scrolling through files.


Drag and Drop for Desktop

Based off of user interviews, many people liked to search for music on the desktop computer. They would have to develop their own filing system or just have a scatter of audio files. This feature takes the files, allows you to choose a genre, name it and then it sorts it by date from there.


Record "in-the-moment" sounds for Mobile & Tablet

This is a mobile specific feature that allows the user to record sounds when they are on the go. The reason for this stems from the user's frustrations of not being able to remember things that inspire her or forgetting that she recorded something with a regular audio recorder. These are saved directly to the application and accessible over all devices.


Final Thoughts

Theoretically, I would love to test this application out over a period of time to see by how much productivity was increased. For the most part, it was gaining insight on how people organize information and how they go about retrieving that information. Whether or not I potentially solved a real world problem for amateur music producers and helped them stay more organized while simultaneously increasing their productivity, I still learned a lot about how people work with information. Great knowledge to have.