A Youthful Perspective

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From the left: OMI fellows Joel Stevenson of the University of Baltimore and Berklee students Andrew Smith and Sebastian Barniol were among 18 fellows participating in OMI’s summer lab.
From the left: OMI fellows Joel Stevenson of the University of Baltimore and Berklee students Andrew Smith and Sebastian Barniol were among 18 fellows participating in OMI’s summer lab. They proposed an app called INTRSTLR to facilitate connections between fans and behind-the-scenes participants on recordings.
Nicole D'avis

As a component of the roll out of OMI, the MIT Media Lab hosted a three-week summer lab. BerkleeICE, partnering with design-thinking firm IDEO, selected 18 young entrepreneurial student fellows from Berklee, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Brown University, and the University of Baltimore. With a range of expertise from music to technology to design, the fellows brought a fresh and youthful perspective to the research OMI has been conducting.

“The lab demonstrated how students can work with the industry to envision new outcomes and possibilities,” said Panos Panay, founding managing director of ICE. The outside-the-box thinking of the students was refreshing as they approached their ventures unencumbered by the constraints of corporate culture and with the freedom to innovate using current technology and that which they believe will become available over the course of the next decade.

Guided by IDEO’s Michael Hendrix, the 18 fellows were grouped into six teams that followed the IDEO methodology of conducting interviews with content creators and producers as well as music consumers. They then set out to design a product or app that they felt could exploit the data sets made available through OMI’s proposed open-source digital architecture. One of their mandates was to explore how to enhance the fan experience.

A sampling of the final proposals included the following. The Oz Plug would create a soundprint that seamlessly captures track-level identity information and also allows fans to discover and explore based on their favorite segments of a given song.

Pufferfish would be a membership platform that compiles a creator’s identity, including his or her values. By scanning their Pufferfish card, artists ensure that their complete identity is embedded in content, providing them the opportunity to approach business through the lens of their beliefs.

Mirror would be a wearable device that senses moments of inspiration and focus, and allows artists to reflect on and learn from their own creative process.

Campfire is a proposed platform that encourages derivative works and brings all the content into one generative platform that can be tracked.

Intrstlr would be an app to facilitate connections between fans and behind-the-scenes participants in recordings by various artists. Using information from the streaming service a fan subscribes to, Intrstlr interprets the fan’s listening habits and places his or her favorite stars in “constellations.” Digging into the data behind the songs, Intrstlr reveals that in a constellation comprising Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, and Daft Punk, bassist Nathan East is a common denominator: he has recorded with each artist. Intrstlr would enable the fan to reach out to East, perhaps to offer his band a house concert booking.

Panay stated that some of the ideas generated may ultimately be fully developed by the students or be adopted by entrepreneurs in the OMI community.