If I am not in the middle of designing a dashing looking website, I am most likely playing the guitar and making music. Often I come up with an idea for a melody or some chords that I record on my iPhone using the Memos app. If I come up with an idea for a lyric, I usually write it down in the Notes app. In that way I will not forget the idea. However, I do find it hard to find the ideas again if I want to use a specific chord progression I have recorded a few weeks before. Neither the Memos app nor the Notes app is designed for songwriters, so I figured that I needed a Songwriting app. But I could not find any good ones. So I figured it would be an exciting new project to create a tool that supported the songwriting process.
Normally I would find a couple of songwriters, interview them, and observe them, but since this was just a small project I was making for myself, I thought it would be best to use what I could find on the internet. I found a great website called songwritersonprocess.com, which contains interviews with songwriters about their songwriting processes. This was perfect because not only did I have access to a lot of interviews with songwriters, the interviewees were some of the best songwriters in the world! I chose a couple of interviews with songwriters I personally like: Tayler Goldsmith of Dawes, Paul Banks of Interpol, Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem and Neil Finn of Crowded House. I also found some great interviews on YouTube with Noel Gallagher, John Mayer, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Halsey and Eminem. I went through the interviews and collected the best and most relevant quotes and passages. Then for each songwriter, I made a persona with the most interesting information about them and their songwriting processes, as well as their goals.
From my research, I found out that, even though all their approaches were different, there were some common things that most of them did. This included having something to catch the ideas as quickly and easily as possible. These things varied from digital devices such as smartphones and laptops to analog media such as notebooks and tape recorders. These tools became their idea bank, which they used for the process of writing the full lyrics for a song. When they wrote the full lyrics, they usually used pen and paper/notebook, laptops and even typewriters. I that way, the songwriting process consists of two subprocesses: catching ideas and crafting the lyrics.
I brainstormed and came up with as many ideas as I could. I then organized them and discarded the bad ones. I had ideas for both of the two subprocesses described above: For the process of catching ideas, I came up with a concept for a smartphone app, that would act as the songwriter’s idea bank. For the process of crafting the lyric, I came up with a concept for an app for either tablet or computer. I figured that they could work together and support the whole songwriting process. However, I figured that the smartphone app would be the best place to start because it had the potential to add the most value for the users.
PROTOTYPING AND TESTING
I had a lot of different ideas for features, but I set out to create a minimum viable prototype with just the most essential features.
I started by creating lo-fi wireframes of the app. This process forced me to make a lot of decisions. When I had the overall flow of the app mapped out, I moved on to Figma.
In Figma I started to mock up the different pages and created an interactive prototype that I tested with friends and family to check if the design made sense. I redesigned and iterated a couple of times. As I was redesigning the prototype, I payed more and more attention to the aesthetic features of the interface like color, hierarchy and space.
This is how far I have come at the time of writing this case study. I will work more on the aesthetic appearance of the app to enhance the experience and hopefully get it in the hands of a couple of real songwriters.