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Collaboration in music production: Improving the experience

Making collaboration in music production easier

This story is in continuation with my previous story about the research and analysis done in the area of collaboration in music production. There I spoke about the research methodologies and the analysis techniques I used to find the pain points and opportunities for design.

The design brief

Coming up with a design brief based on the research is helpful to move forward and conceptualizing solution which focuses on problems. The design brief gives a preview of users, the problems, and expectations.

The communication between music producers and, musicians and clients is the key for good music production project.

The aim to make it easy for music producers to collaborate with musicians and communicate with clients when they are in remote locations.

Concepts

Listing down the features that are to be included in the concepts/solutions that are going to propose based on the opportunities above. This helps in not getting stuck to an idea/concept and helps in exploring solutions from different aspects solving a different set of problems.

Quick share

A simple quick-share button in the producer’s DAW, whenever clicked for a project it renders the project in background and updates that render in a link. This link is generated when it is quick-shared the first time. The purpose is to reduce the time taking to render, open mail, attach and send it to the client or collaborator.

Annotate & Comment

A way to annotate specific portions in a track as a way to give feedback for that portion. This will help the receiver of feedback understand what track and portion of it, that they are getting the feedback for. This will be similar to the ones found in Google docs for documents but in the context of music production.

Multi-option track

Often while collaborating, it is a common thing to get and have multiple versions of the same recording and picking one at the very last. But often for these, a need to create several different tracks are required and all the setting should be duplicated between all of these tracks and kept the same. So, a way to easily add and have multiple versions of the track in the same place which can be given different name or time signature or color-coded. Producers can switch them using a simple dropdown which shows are the tracks and picking one.

Real-time collab

A way to assign a remote system to a particular track or the whole project. They will be given full control over that particular track in real-time to work with. Even, though control can be limited to track, the whole project is transferred for them to play along with them and this too happens in real-time. All the different computers will have a name and a color assigned to them. There will be an option to have multiple cursors too. So when multiple cursors option is enabled, the connected system will have multiple cursors in them of different colors. Also, there will be an option to click and speak, so they can speak with each other through audio when the SPACE key in the keyboard is pressed. This audio communication combined with cursor can help in annotating certain parts in the project and explain more or giving feedback or telling is what is required. These features combined will help in reducing confusion in communication and makes the collaboration easy and in real-time. Also, this addresses the root of linear and reparative work of rendering, mailing, receiving recordings, adding that to track, all these won’t be needed if the communication happens in real-time.

All of the aforementioned features, if are integrated with different DAWs in the form of plugins/VSTs, will help in every collaborator not needing to have the same DAW and can use DAWs that they are comfortable with at the same time, not costing the collaboration.

Integrated as an add-on plugin

A VST is a kind of plugins that can be added to any DAW software. So, if such a plugin is there that can be installed in any DAW and it connected to a cloud-based system, all the aforementioned features can be integrated as an add-on to any existing DAW software instead of just specific ones. This way, if the producer and collaborator are using different DAW softwares, it won’t be an issue.

An all in communication space for project

Using Slack or similar softwares as a space for communication with different stakeholders involved in the project as a whole, not just music production. Say, if it’s an ad film, there would be a common channel and department wise channel and also individual channels would be there to easily connect with anyone involved in the project. And a slack plugin that can be integrated into the DAW softwares for music producers to easily share his work or the progress, ask queries.

Proposed solution

Konnect — A cloud integrated platform within DAWs with web and mobile accessibility for sharing and collaboration.

The solution works with the help of cloud from where the data can be accessed through multiple interfaces easily and in real-time, if needed.

Konnect offerings to different stakeholders

It mainly consists of two things:

1. A plugin for DAW

It’s used by music producers and musicians. This brings the feedback and sharing amongst other things inside the DAW(whatever DAW they are using).

2. Mobile Application

It’s used by the clients(directors, ad film managers, etc.,) to easily get updates and keep track of the music production for the project.

Features

Experience

Mapping out the experience with the proposed solution will help in comparing it with the existing system and evaluating the solution.

Conclusion

A concept video for this project

The project revolves around music production and improving the experience. When started the problems weren’t clear and the initial assumptions changed to give some meaningful insights into the area. The mapping helped to find the touchpoints to focus on, the design brief was helpful in evaluating the concepts.

This is a continuation of a previous story that talks about the research and analysis part. https://medium.com/students-nidblr/collaboration-in-music-production-a-design-research-analysis-case-study-ccb93de0c9bb

This project study was done as a part of the “Systems approach to design” module during the Master of Design course in Interaction Design at National Institute of Design, Bengaluru, India, and was guided by Dr. Mamata Rao and Mrs. Jagriti Galphade.

More works on our college work can be found at our medium page, https://medium.com/students-nidblr

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This is the publication that documents the work of disciplines at the National Institute of Design’s Research and Development campus in Bengaluru

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Allwin Williams

Allwin Williams

Tech / Design / Music

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