|The Thirteenth Annual Interactive
PROJECT BAR-B-Q 2008
Report: The EduMusiTainers™
|Participants: A.K.A "Joe 4 Track"|
Wayne Chien, DTS, Inc.
|Jeff Essex, Audiosyncrasy|
|Todor Fay, New Blue FX||Chris Grigg, Beatnik|
|Christian Hessler, MAST Labs||Rod Hogan, Maxim|
|Stephen Kay, Karma-Lab||Todd Moore, Maxim|
|Rory O’Neill, Club Penguin||Dave Rossum, E-mu|
|Craig Swann, CRASHMEDIA!||Mark Walsen, Notation Software|
|Victor Wong, Open Labs®||Facilitator:Aaron Higgins, MixMeister Technology|
Everyone experiences music, and many dream of creating it. How can we facilitate an evolution from experiencing music to creating music?
How can we leverage recent phenomena such as Rock Band and the iPhone, and overcome the lack of easy-to-use creation tools? We have an opportunity to help music gamers and non-musicians evolve into creators.
This report provides guidance for developers considering products in this market space.
1) Identify the users
We believe users can be grouped into five experience levels:
Fig. 1 Pyramid of five user types
In this scheme, a potential music consumer moves from being passive (i.e. Listener using iTunes) to an interactive participant, triggering music elements in real time (i.e. Music Gamer playing Guitar Hero). As this user becomes more engaged in creating their own musical experience, they might choose to build their own songs using pre-recorded music clips, and perhaps even record their own vocal or instrumental material (i.e. Hobbyist using GarageBand). From this level, it’s not hard to imagine our music consumer reaching ever higher, acquiring professional-level tools to create music from scratch.
The five user levels could also be viewed as a pyramid, with Listeners at the base (the largest market segment) and Full-Time Musicians at the top. We believe there is a major opportunity to grow a market at the lower levels of this pyramid, and that adequate tools have yet to be created. Software developers could tap into this market by creating products that not only appeal to the base of Listeners, but also add creative options that allow Listeners to interact with the music in a game setting (Music Gamer), or add their own musical ideas (Hobbyist).
The higher levels of the market are relatively well-served with existing products for musicians who are comfortable with standard metaphors for recording and editing music (mixer-style interfaces with tape-style transport controls, timeline windows for editing, etc.). But tools that rely on these metaphors may be too complex for beginners. Even worse, they can intimidate the user and discourage their development as a potential music consumer. For example, an iTunes user opening GarageBand for the first time is presented with an interface that assumes their familiarity with the metaphors mentioned above. How many potential consumers give up at this point? How many more might continue if the tools were less intimidating, and above all, fun to use?
2) Define Desired Tool Attributes
What’s missing from the current crop of product offerings? Where are the gaps in functionality or ease-of-use? And what existing tools can we identify that might serve as models for filling these gaps?
Our answers to these questions are shown in Table 1 below. This list shows a set of desired features or attributes for future tools, and estimates how those attributes map to each type of user. It also includes example products that demonstrate a good solution for each attribute.
For example, an attribute such as “sounds great w/o skills” would be of most importance to the lower levels of the “User Pyramid” as these are the segments of the market with little to no musical skill. Once you move up the pyramid, you are gaining in skill level and such an attribute loses importance as a motivating factor in purchasing and using the tool.
As a side note, the name of this group “The EduMusiTainers” was taken from the combination of educational, musical, and entertainment attributes in the list.
At this point, the reader might well ask, “If these attributes are already covered in existing products, why do we need new tools?” The problem is that the attributes are spread across a broad range of products, rather than being consolidated into a few well-integrated, easy-to-use products.
3) Test Assumptions via Survey
We have devised a survey to gather information from potential users to test our tool-requirement & user assumptions. The survey is available online at:
Results are pending and an analysis will be published by January 31, 2009.
4) Ongoing Action to Promote Results
Thanks to the success of recent products like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, we believe a solid business case can be made for creating a new generation of engaging music creation products that will attract a large consumer audience. Figure 2 shows our proposed model for empowering these new customers.
Figure 2. As ease of use improves, content creators achieve higher quality results.
If we alter the state of current tools by enhancing ease of use, entry-level users (starting in the lower left corner) will be able to produce higher quality results with less effort. These newly empowered users will drive market growth in hardware (recording equipment and musical instruments) as well as software.
Finally, with the survey results in hand, we will identify five potential decision makers who may be able to act on this information to deliver new products, and assure the message gets delivered.
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