So I was working on a project, and I had an idea.
If you love music, you probably already know. The way that media is created, promoted, distributed, and consumed has changed more in the past 10 years than in the past 100 (shoot, even 1000) years. In fact, it's hard to say that we're media consumers any more often, as we're often media creators. Gone is the old marketing idea of "target audiences," replaced by "target participants". Those who first saw this massive shift in online behavior are now probably sitting at the tops of our country's fastest growing companies. Those who didn't simple got left behind and tuned out.
If there's one industry that failed the most at adapting to technological changes, the music industry takes the cake. When Sawn Fanning created Napster in 1999, the music industry was furious when they should have dropped to their knees. "Big Music" shunned their new messiah that had come to lead them into the next generation. Instead Napster was shut down, and like a digital plague this free-media-sharing mentality spread like wild fire. Countless new sharing platforms sprouted in Napster's place and big music corporations sealed their own fate.
For my current Innovation class I just turned in my first project, a personal stab at solving this multi-headed music problem. I designed a mobile experience called "Troubadour" that provides a way for people to explore their surroundings, meet and collaborate with new people, all while discovering new music. "Troubadour" is a game for mobile phones that operates like this:
(Cue Start-Up pitch)
Troubadour is a mobile experience that discovers the new music playing all around you.
Players log into the application as inspired musicians, itching to create the next hit song that will plunge them into fame and success. They move around their city, completing challenges and collecting location-specific objects (ex: a new Fender "Jazz Master" guitar) which allows them to level up, gaining more "chops". As players progress through the game, they enlist the help of other players that are nearby, and combine their talents to "jam".
This interaction unlocks actual songs from Troubador's servers that players keep and can listen to on-demand, anytime on their phone. The music that is unlocked is dependent on the type of challenges that the two players collaborating (rather, "jamming") have already completed. For example, if one player has completed more challenges downtown, they might bring more rap/ city music influences to the collaboration, while another who's completed more challenges in the suburbs might bring punk-rock influences. Two players can never collaborate the same way twice; they are always "creating" (or gaining access to) new and different music.
From the back-ended perspective, Troubador is a way for local bands to gain local listeners. By donating a free song to the Troubador network (that's then analyzed for music related and location-specific metrics), they introduce themselves to potentially new fans that are in their city. There's nothing better than discovering a new band that you like, and then getting excited when they're playing a concert right down the street. The free song that's claimed by users is tagged with all of the artist's relevant info: Twitter tags, homepage, MySpace, iTunes link to help grow their digital fanbase.
Music is something that people love. What people love more is discovering new music before anyone else does (ever heard, "Oh, you like [Insert band name here]? Yeah, I was listening to them before they got big. Now they've gone all mainstream..."). And, what people probably love the most is a tie between playing games and getting free stuff.
I came to this whole idea from spending time in nature, studying how specific birds socialize and integrate with one another (if you've never heard of the Lyrebird, check out this video). It's a shame that Troubadour doesn't exist, though if some programmer reads this and wants to partner with me in finding some venture capitalists to get it off the ground, I'm game.
How does that sound?