What could it mean to say "I have that on Vinyl" in the age of digital streaming?
A bespoke music magazine based on your individual music streams, populated with information by AI and supporting artists finically.
This project was undertaken to explore the individual's music identity in the age of digital streaming. To get an idea of what music consumption meant to people today, I conducted a series of interviews and used Lo-fi cultural probes to identify a commonality of music history of users aged between 20-25.
What I discovered is that music streaming had given rise to the loss of a person's music collection, an insular experience of music where there used to be a sociable one, and industry of underpaid artists. A common feeling was that Vinyl should be the answer to this problem, but for my users vinyl wasn't a good fit as it doesn't reflect the way we listen to music today.
Fans listen to playlists more often then albums, and buying an album not only limited that users expression but also only supported a single artist, not the plethora of artists users wanted to support. Users additionally didn't have space, budget or sense of permanency to invest in a vinyl collection. In the end, I was left with the question: What does it mean to say "I have that on Vinyl" in the age of digital streaming.
Taking my research question and user insights, I developed a workshop to co-design a new artefact or service. Artists, fans and the wider music industry all took part in the workshop, culminating in a huge range of proposals, of which the key points were; the product should add a level of transparency to music consumption, it should work with existing streaming services and it should be physical in order to provoke sharing and conversation.
The ideas from this workshop ended up being refined into a mail-out subscription service customised to each user's music. A bespoke magazine based on your featuring you most listened to songs with added information pulled from sites like Genius, Whosampled and even reviews from sites like Pitchfork.
The final product: Liner-Notes. A quarterly bespoke music magazine based on the music an individual user listens to. Not only does it become a record of the music that the user listens to each month, but it gives them a beautiful breakdown of the information behind the songs they value most. Each copy comes with a personal mixtape of their top songs so they can listen as they explore each song's lyrics, samples or meanings.
The magazine layout is created by a different graphic designer each quarter and then populated with information about their top songs by Liner-Notes' in-house AI. This means when they display each issue on their wall or leave it on their coffee table, it will be sure to start a conversation. Better still it supports artists, by dividing half of the subscription fee between the artists they listen to most, weighted to support smaller artists more, and the service itself.
These quarterly magazines will be the almanacks of a users music life. So when a friend comes over, and they're discussing that road trip they took last June, they will be able to bring their last Summers' Liner-Notes down from the shelf and rediscover the songs that were the background to that trip.