Let Your Indie Tune Rhyme with My Service Design Thinking

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In this post, Bingheng Shi talks about her understanding of indie music and how to improve user experience in buying online indie music by incorporating service design thinking. Leading up to the Degree Show, she shares her perspective of the Phoenix as an Innovation Manager.

As an indie music fan, I’ve constantly asked myself what indie really means. Is it just a music genre? What kind of lyrics, tempos or tunes can be considered “indie”? Can we really define it by the artistic nature?

Instead of the hit charts, a mysterious music curation blog sounds more thrilling; an inexplicable doodling appears more attractive as an album cover rather than a flawless photo shopped mug shot. More than a genre only, Indie conveys a manner, an attitude, a spirit, an ethos. This indie ethics was initially celebrated by defining themselves as subculture in terms of commercial independence and autonomy from mainstream culture.

With the rise of digital music, the previous professionalized and industrialized practices of production, promotion, distribution and consumption of music have been drastically modified. Indie music labels, musicians and fans have been largely empowered by this technology revolution, where one synthesizer can act as a band; no storage of CDs is required and it only takes a click to distribute the music to the whole world. Without the physical medium to carry the music, the dematerialization actually heightens the industry transition from product-based to experience-oriented.

Indie music has adhered to its long-held indie ideology of challenging the old realm and proactively engaging their listeners in all aspects. The desirability of audience is provoked not only by the inherent diversity of music but also the way they are produced and promoted, which is user-centric, making every effort to bring what users really want rather than commercial considerations.

I can’t help but link indie spirit to service design thinking, which also emphasizes a user-centric approach to enhancing users’ experience. I believe that the value of indie music as a service is still under estimated. Therefore, I want to challenge the current mindset of selling music as a product. By examining the user behaviour trigger points during the buying process from utility, usability and pleasurability perspectives through my research has explored the possibility of improving user experience by incorporating service design thinking into indie music labels’ digital market place.

Phoenix is a symbol of regeneration and being reborn. It can be a metaphor of the way how indie music continually redefines its own identity or how music industry is constantly reshaped by new technology. However, an innovation manager allied to a phoenix investigates the rationale behind it and is not afraid to destroy the perfectly established old empire. Breaking down the obsolete regime and bringing new methodologies might not always work, but that’s why a phoenix-liked innovation manager is sharply hunting new possibilities of destroying and creating.

To learn more about the Phoenix and Bingheng’s research, stay tuned for the upcoming MAIM 2015 Degree Show, taking place at Central Saint Martins in the week starting on the 23rd of June.

*Stickdorn, M. & Schneider, J. (2011) This Is Service Design Thinking, New Jersey, John Wiley & Sons