Muse: Experiencing your city through music
How might we design a music service that provides a curated experience for users to help them explore their city's history and culture?
Muse is a monthly subscription service that curates live music experiences through user personalization. It focusing on getting the user to explore and learn about new areas of their city through music.
Research, Service Concept Development, UX/UI Concept Development, Wireframes, and Hi-Fidelity Prototype
Kevin Gao, Carlie Guifoile, Laura Rodriguez
Muse: The Service
Muse is a music event service that curates fun nights out for its users. Muse utilizes user personalization as a means to curate these experiences. Here is the basic service structure of Muse:
The user signs up and selects the subscription duration, number of tickets, music genre and city topic preferences to generate a user profile and is matched with a Muse music expert.
The user receives a one-time Muse Welcome box in the mail that contains information about Muse and other fun items, like stickers and a Muse bracelet.
The user receives two music events each month to choose from, which has been chosen based off their profile preference information. These event options are chosen by the Muse algorithm, however the user’s Muse music expert will check the events before sending them. If the music expert feels the events are not the best fit for the user, they can adjust the events as needed.
The user receives an Insiders Guide a week before the event with information about the music artist and information based on their city topic preferences, such as food recommendations.
At the venue, the user will receive discounted drinks, food, or merchandise the night of the event, which is provided through the partnership between Muse and the venue.
After the event, the user is asked to rate their experience, which further personalizes their profile, and are able to download the music they heard at the event through a partnership with a third-party music streaming service, such as Spotify.
Each month they repeat this event selection sequence (steps 3-6) for the duration of their Muse subscription.
Muse uses personalization to curate music experiences for each user. Users are able to select the music genres they are interest in, as well as the topics of interest about their city. This personalized user profile is used to match each user to a music expert, who plays a role in the curation process.
Based on the city topics selected, the insiders guide is personalized to feature information around those topics, in addition to information about the music artist. For example, if the user is interested in food and architecture, their insiders guide would feature information about interesting restaurants and bars that are in the neighborhood where the concert is taking place, as well as information about the history of the venue location and building.
After each event, the user is asked to rate their experience to further refine the algorithm. In addition, the user is able to download the music from the event through a partnership with a third-party music streaming service, such as Spotify. This download information is collected to further learn about the user’s music preferences refining the algorithm and user’s Muse experience.
How I got here?
01 Defining Our Territory
When tasked with designing a service around music, we initially had these interests in mind to explore:
History of music
Music scavenger hunt
Music and culture
We quickly gravitated toward the idea of learning about the history of a city through music, which is the topic area that we focused on for our project. We also had an interest in the concept of curated subscription box services, which we began exploring from the beginning.
02 Understanding the Problem Space
We began by gaining an understanding of what the current options were for people to purchase concert tickets, as well as people’s views on subscription box services. We performed market research, conducted a survey, and performed interviews.
We performed market research to gain an understanding of the subscription box and event ticket service landscape. We found that most subscription box services focused on tangible products, such as beauty products, and most event tickets services were expansive and provided a range of event types, which could feel overwhelming to the user.
Survey: Subscription Boxes
We conducted a survey to gain an understanding of people's experiences with subscription box services. We wanted to understand the reasons why someone may sign up for a subscription box service, as well as the reasons them may keep subscribing or stop subscribing.
Survey: Your City's Music
We conducted a survey to gain an understanding of people's methods of finding music events in their city, as well the frustrations they experienced in their search. We also wanted to gain an understanding of people's personal knowledge about their city's music history. We found that most people had a limited knowledge, (e.g. may know 2 or 3 famous artists from their city). However, people were very interested in learning about their city's music history with 80% responding yes.
We also found that people were interested in a service that combined music and their city's history, especially if it made finding new music easy and supported local artists and businesses.
Key Insights: Surveys
Based on our survey research, we came up with the following 5 key insights:
Users liked the feeling of receiving a "special package", it made the experience feel more personal.
Users felt they lacked control over the content in the subscription boxes.
Users felt subscription box services were too expensive in the long run, because they did not always like or use what they received.
The time required to search for events was a major frustration for users, especially for users in the age range of 25-45 years.
Most users used 3-4 methods for learning about music events, which was frustrating to keep track of. (Example of one survey participant's methods: Word of mouth, Event websites, Venue e-newsletters, Magazines/Newspaper)
Design Implication Questions
These insights demonstrated there was still value in exploring a subscription box-like service but it would have to be reduced in scale to reduce overall costs. As well, there was a need for a service that makes the act of finding music events less time consuming, especially for busy young professionals.
We developed 3 design implication questions, which we continued to explore throughout our project.
How can we incorporate a box, but at a lower cost, to preserve that feeling of receiving a "special package"?
How can we provide a curated, but customized experience for the user?
How can we reduce the time necessary to search for events through more curated experiences?
We conducted interviews to gain a first-person perspective from individuals who worked in our areas of exploration. We focused on gaining an understanding of the frustrations that they encountered, as well as the opportunity areas that they saw in their respective fields.
Key Insights: Interviews
These interviews provided key insights about building and maintaining value between a service, its customers, and partners.
Trust and quality of experience play important factors in getting users to return to a service or business.
Developing partnerships with businesses can be difficult, if the value exchange is not clear.
People are interested in experiencing and learning about topics that are very specific to them. This is what draws them to seek out assistance in discovering new experiences.
People view music experiences as a venue to build a community and meet people.
While people like the convenience of digital applications, they still like interacting with physical items, such as a visitors guide booklet.
We developed the following design principles influenced by our research and key insights.
Our service should afford personalization for the user.
Our service should include elements of discovery for the user.
Our service should leverage partnerships with local businesses to provide value benefits to our user.
Our service should leverage automation, while still preserving a sense of human connection with the service provider.
Our service should incorporate a physical element that the user receives.
Based on our research and design principles, we developed the following design question, which informed our service solution.
How might we design a service that provides a curated experience for the user to help them explore their city's music history and culture?
02 Concept Development and Speed Dating
Based on our research, we decided to explore services that would use music to help individuals learn about their city's music history and discover new areas of their city. However, we developed concepts that targeted two different users: Tourists (concept 1, 2, 3) and Locals (concept 4, 5).
Speed Dating Feedback
Our concepts focused on the act of discovery, as well as leveraging partnerships with local businesses. People liked the idea of being guided to different areas and supporting local business. They felt relying only on original historical locations would be limiting in getting users to explore a whole city. They also felt that our concepts did not have a balanced value exchange between the service and the local businesses. We were asking the businesses to do more than the value we provided them. In addition, they wondered how it would work with cities that are not very walkable.
Design Implication Questions
The feedback we received got us thinking about the following questions and how these questions would influence our final concept.
How can we rely less on the physical locations to provide historical information?
How can we provide a curated experience in walkable distances?
How can we leverage the partnerships with local business that maintain a balanced value exchange?
Based on this feedback, we decided to move forward with concept 4 with elements of concept 5 incorporated in it. Our final concept focused on designing a subscription service that would send curated event options to the user chosen through a personalization method. It would leverage venues, local businesses, and local artists to promote each other, while our service in turn would promote them through a curated guide that is sent to the user.
Finalized Storyboard + Persona
After speed dating, we finalized our concept and created a new storyboard incorporating all the various touchpoints the user would interact with throughout their experience with our service. In addition, we developed a persona to represent our target user group.
03 Prototyping & Visual Design
We prototyped three touchpoints within our service: the sign-up process (shown via the ipad app), the event selection and insiders guide (shown via the mobile app), and the welcome box, as well as the visual design for Muse.
Sign Up Process
We prototyped the sign-up process to illustrate the personalization element of our service. This included the plan selection, preferences selection, and music expert matching.
Event Selection + Insiders Guide
We prototyped the event selection and insiders guide to demonstrate the curation element of our service. This included the event selection, insiders guide, rating, music playlist, and associated notifications.
Welcome Box + Visual Style
We designed the visual style to complete the look and feel of our service, as well as prototyped the welcome box and its contents to demonstrate the physical element that user would experience.
04 Future Considerations
This project was an exercise in understanding all the elements that must be taken into consideration when designing a service from understanding the relationship between the front-end and back-end to the balance of value that must be developed and exchanged between multiple stakeholders.
For next steps, since this project focused on designing the service framework, I would like perform user testing of our final concept and the different touchpoints. In addition, I think we could further explore the elements that would go into how our service would make connections and establish partnership with local venues and businesses.