Inspired by my personal interest in live music and NYC punk-rock subculture, I decided to investigate how to improve the experiences of music lovers and amateur concert connoisseurs.
In order to have a better understanding of what attendees like and dislike about their concert-going experience, I arranged and conducted interviews with several people, particularly those that like to attend small ‘indie’ live shows.
- Interviewees that are new to the live show scene have incredible difficulty finding events to attend. Many shows are only advertised through social media, particularly Instagram, which makes it hard to find events if you are not already following the band or venue.
- Information about live shows is often incomplete. Interviewees expressed particular interest in knowing venues’ BYOB policies as well as precautions taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Since many small live shows perform in unorthodox venues instead of traditional event spaces, it is difficult for attendees to know the details about or quality of the venue.
- When choosing a live show to attend, most interviewees prioritized low cost, proximity to public transportation, and whether any of their peers would be attending.
This is an example of a common punk live show poster. There is no specific location listed; the poster only says the venue is called ‘Flat Baroque’ and is in Bed-Stuy. If a potential attendee does not already know the address, the poster suggests to ‘Ask a punk’.
Although the NYC punk community is friendly and accepting of everyone who participates, it is extraordinarily difficult to become involved if you do not already know someone who regularly attends shows.
In Summary: Small concert attendees in NYC need a reliable way to explore upcoming live shows, with an emphasis on providing complete and accessible information on venues, artists, and events.
Once the user’s needs were defined, I began formulating ideas on how to address them in the most comprehensive way possible.
Initially, I brainstormed an idea for a simple forum-style website/app that was entirely devoted to NYC live shows. However, there are a few things similar to this that exist already; with the most popular being the submission-based Instagram page @ChaosCalendarNYC.
After reflection, I realized that social interaction was a major part of the live show experience— since events are often spread by word of mouth or other intimate means, the community feels close-knit. Additionally, interviewees expressed that attending shows with their peers was a major factor in their enjoyment and decision-making process in choosing what events to attend.
What if event management combined with social media in a way that incorporated the close-knit, diy culture of the indie music scene?
Thus, Setlist was born: an app designed for people to find reliable information on small live shows; follow new artists, venues, and fellow concert-goers; and help to make the NYC indie music scene a more accessible place.
I decided to create an app with 5 screens: a homepage, and then sample event details, venue profile, artist profile, and user profile pages. Before I got started in Figma, I wanted to have a layout in mind for each page. I apologize in advance for my terrible handwriting
When sketching, I prioritized including all of the information that my interviewees said was often lacking in easily locatable positions. Along with that, I wanted to show how profiles would coincide and/or differ among types of users.
Although they all would include about sections, for example, each would have specialized, unique features as well: Venue profiles would include reviews and distance to public transportation; artist profiles would link to music streaming platforms; user profiles would keep track of past and future event attendance.
The basic structure of the app remained the same, but some minor changes were made during the design process to allow for the cleanest user interface.
Incorporating the full-color aesthetics and typography was very important to this project, in my opinion. Using the blended brick texture as the background layer invokes the traditional appearance of posters pasted onto walls and posts. The distressed title font, Cotton, gives some edge to the design, but the body font, Muli, softens it to keep the design accessible to new members of underground music subcultures.
Click on the prototype photos to enlarge them. However, higher quality displays can be accessed directly through the Figma files that are linked below.
The next step for this project would be to conduct another round of user interviews with my Figma prototype. I’d like to get feedback primarily on how intuitive the layout is, as well as any information or features the users think are missing and/or superfluous.
I’d love to continue pursuing this project from both a professional and personal standpoint, as it is both intellectually and artistically engaging, as well as (hopefully!) beneficial to the NYC indie-punk scene that’s dear to my heart.
Small NYC Venues to Support
Since COVID-19 shut down all live performances for over a year, many small venues are struggling to stay afloat. Now that it’s possible to attend shows again, here are some of my favorite spots that could use any and all support:
- Trans Pecos: Hosts inclusive, all-ages performances as well as free community events on the Bushwick/Ridgewood border.
- Wonderville: Multipurpose event space that hosts music performances, art exhibitions, and a rotating arcade of indie games in Bed-Stuy.
- Purgatory: Relatively new venue that prioritizes LGBTQ+ and women artists in Bushwick.
- Arpegiator Studios: Classic, gritty punk venue and rehearsal space based out of a warehouse in Greenpoint.