The DIY music community in my campustown of Champaign-Urbana is extensive—from ambient music, to punk, to jazz. However, there’s a barrier of entry into the scene. Without knowing any musicians or friends of musicians, "house shows" can sound like an illusive campus secret.
Individual exploration project
2D: Sketch, FramerX, Adobe CS
3D: SolidWorks, Keyshot
"I’m in my last year at University of Illinois and finally got lucky in finding the right people to jam with. I get sad thinking about what I could’ve created if I’d met them earlier"


I interviewed 17 people across the community, from local musicians, to music store owners, to students studying music. Through these interviews and a 28 person survey, I was trying to find:

1. How people were being introduced to the music community. Who brought them along to their first house show? Did they find the community through social media?

2. If they feel part of the community, what the experience was like to get to involved. What were the barriers to entry? What do you struggle with most as a musician, host, or fan?

3. What they feel like is missing from the experience that they wish was possible. Is it a matter of infrastructure, communication, or there not being a desire for something within the community?

This user attends house shows, and jams with friends, but doesn't perform out yet.
“There’s so many talented artists that write their own music, so playing out is pretty intimidating for me and the guys I jam with.”
This user plays, attends, and host house shows at their home in Urbana.
“I already feel like I got lucky with who I met, so it’d have to be really lucky to meet people outside of the house show scene. I wouldn’t know where to start.”
There’s no easy way of meeting people who are interested in the same music as you, let alone to jam or start a band.
Plenty of people play instruments, and want to with others, but struggle to find space to practice in.
House shows tend to cater toward certain genres of music, and leave out a huge group of musicians.
Not everyone who wants to be involved plays an instrument. There’s people who would host shows, or even just discuss and discover music.
Connect musicians to musicians.
Many of the people involved in the scene are either musicians looking for other people to jam with, or bands looking for musicians to join them. How can I create a service to connect the two user groups?      

Connect musicians to hosts.

Even after musicians find each other, there’s still the barrier of needing a space to practice and perform in. How can private and public spaces be advertised to musicians?

Connect new fans to the community.
A majority of the music community consists of people who don’t make music. How can this group be introduced to new music and venues?
After three rounds of iteration, I performed A/B testing with 5 of my initial interviewees. I focused mostly on the home screen and profiles, where I gained valuable feedback on features, aesthetics and interactions in the app.

While creating an account, a new user will identify themselves as a particular user type, and filter what they’re using the app to find.

They can select more than one option, for example a user that is both a host and musician, and is looking for bands and interest groups. These details can later be edited in their profile, but it creates a starting point for populating the home screen with users they’re seeking, and a basic amount of information so other users can find them.

The user is then brought to the home screen which is populated with three distinct user types—bands, musicians, and hosts.

This satisfies the user goal of a sense of connection and community, and provides a space for users to stumble upon new things. However, if users are looking for something specific, they’re able to filter their results, and bookmark users to reference later. These filters align with the categories outlined in users’ profiles, so the filters can easily be paired to the metadata each user provides.

Each user has a profile that they customize for their skills and interests, and can easily share to other users both digitally and in person.

This example is for musician or band, which would have different information to display than a host would, like audio samples and influences. Sharing their profile helps users move past the current “word-of-mouth” approach to getting to know others in the community, and what their interests and experience are.

The groups and events pages allow users to connect with like-minded people and discover new parts of the music scene.

Hosts post their events, which users can bookmark and view details about. The groups page satisfies a need that no current digital platform does—a space for people with similar interests within the community to cross paths. Not only does this let users find information that’s relevant to them, it enables them to meet people they might not have otherwise connected to and become aware of their common interests.

New skills in prototyping, animation, and videography.

These were all things I had some level of knowledge of at the beginning of the project, but having the pressure to do them well and within a semester’s time frame pushed me to learn (and fail) quickly.
Research and user testing methods in a new and more holistic way.

User research and interviews have often felt, albeit informative, kind of distant. I tried new methods of interviewing and user testing, and gained a knowledge of the problem that helped me connect and empathize with users.
Although I learned a lot from these new methods and new technology, there were things I spent too much time trying to perfect.

Animating my prototype to have the right micro-interactions took far more time than I thought it would, and I got caught up trying to have it look exactly the way I envisioned it. This left me with less time than I would’ve liked to wrap up user testing and do some final user interviews with the completed prototype.
Research, ideation, and design are not always distinct phases, and good design comes from referring back to each phase when necessary.

When I moved from research into ideation, I discovered areas that I didn’t understand deeply enough, and had to go back and learn more. New problems arise throughout projects as new insights develop, and although at some points it felt like backtracking, I’m glad that I went back and readjusted my direction instead of carrying forward.