The importance of designing music making products that spark inspiration

The improvement of technology in music production managed to digitalize the complexity of a big studio, providing tools to record music on a budget into laptops. The introduction of the DAW (digital audio workstation) allowed both professional and amateurs to write, record and produce their own songs to a reasonable quality almost effortlessly compared to the past.

We are living an exciting historical moment for designing music making products because the rapidly evolving technology is introducing new opportunities within the market, gradually shifting our focus from making tools that “simply” enable people to make music towards designing new services and products that enhance the skills of music producers.

Going beyond the basic expectation.

In order to find a differentiating value proposition in this ever changing scenario, music production companies need to introduce features that provide delight going beyond “basic expectations” of modern day producers.

Let’s see how basic expectation work taking as an example a compressor plugin. Music producers know compressors are meant to make their sound punchier and thicker, but nowadays they wouldn’t consider the purchase of a plugin purely based on that. In this case, going beyond the basic expectation would mean to provide producers different modes and presets of compression giving access to tailored responses to match what they’re working on.

That’s why music production company should, now more than ever, have the producer journey in mind, and understand where technology can intervene to facilitate the creative process.

The importance of inspiration in the new music industry landscape.

The rising of conveying inspiration fast comes from the fact that songwriters are facing new challenges, brought by the constant change of the music industry and the evolution of how people consume music.

While people attention span decrease more and more, frequent single releases are preferred to big album drops once in a while. For this reason, in order to stand out in the new music industry landscape creators need to publish content at higher frequency, constantly engaging their audience with fresh new music.

The writer block has become the main pain point in the musicians journey, and product that provides inspiration quickly, on demand in a delightful way is a product that wins.

Let’s see two products currently in the market that managed to bring features that not only enable creators to make music, they actually inspire them, putting them in the right mindset to be creative.

Arcade, the samples playground

Arcade provides a Netflix like experience for music producers, offering a cloud based library of inspiring samples that they defined playground, and it actually is, in fact once opened it’s hard to stop interacting with it.

Arcade provide highly delightful features that that goes beyond the basic expectation of “finding good royalty free samples”:

  • A library of highly curated samples that covers multiple genres.
  • Kits of samples that can be tested out easily through a midi keyboard.
  • The capability of manipulating samples in many different ways so they can be adapted to match the flavour the artist is looking for.

Dubler, ideas at “bring of lips”

This product does not provide inspiration on demand as Arcade does but it facilitates it, bridging the gap between mind and music using an instrument we all have and can use, our voice. Imagine being able to just record an idea in your mind by singing it rather than having to transpose it on your keyboard, guitar or instrument of choice.

This product has the potential to set a new basic expectation, mainly in two ways:

  • Considerably speeding up the process, allowing to test different ideas and build on top of them with ease.
  • It allows to focus on music and creativity rather than intervals, notes and keys.

I like also to imagine that the next step of Dubler might be providing a mobile version of the plugin that allow to record and manipulate midi lines through your smartphone. This would allow musician to respond to inspiration whenever it hits, without having to be in front of their laptop.

In conclusion

For this reason i believe design is having a huge impact on this field, facilitating the thriving of innovation in music production companies in three ways:

  • Understanding how the way people consume music impacts on music production.
  • Finding a differentiating value propositions and product strategies going beyond the basic expectations.
  • Designing delightful features that address specific moments of the musician journey.

I'm a UX strategist and music producer. Through my articles i explore the role of Design in the music production realm.