My tendency is to over-index on personal projects, under the assumption that building anything is way easier than it really is. This year I decided to do something different: put all of my energy into one thing. A good way to figure out what I really care about is to have to choose a single thing and jettison everything else. This year, it’s music discovery.
A bunch of directional notes and crummy logo sketches. Don’t let anybody tell you you need to be good at drawing to be a designer.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring music on a lot of platforms – Spotify, Rdio (RIP), Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Youtube(!). I get a great deal of enjoyment from discovering new music and new artists. There’s an amazing feeling when you hear a song for the very first time, when you uncover something new.
That said, the gap I’m finding is two-fold. First: there’s not a lot of room to get truly ‘smart’ music recos that speak to the deep, weird, long-tail tastes of what my friends (or their friends) are currently into. Sure, I can see what they’re listening to, but not what they’ve had on repeat for the last week, not the track that makes them dance or sing along, not the track they can’t wait to share. There’s no degree of subtlety or narrative in the recommendations I get right now.
Second: we’re all generating a lot of data around our listening habits but we’re not benefitting from it. My intention is to expose habits and quirks around something I enjoy with the hope that those habits compound, that my enjoyment of music is expanded by being able to share others’ methods of enjoyment as well. I want to feed this behavioural data back into the platform to unearth new ways to listen.
I think there’s a case to be made that music discovery is pretty shallow right now – that we’ve basically been skimming the surface of how we consider songs, or artists, to be connected.
I want to build in the open as much as possible. I want to share the process. I want you to be invested in what I’m trying to create because it answers a need for you too. I hope you’ll join the mailing list and add your opinions to help shape what this becomes. Thanks for reading.