Performative Journeys Workshop
A practical research project to ensure the relevance of grassroots live music experiences.
Alex Newson (MA User Experience Design)
Engage in a major research-led project in which the emphasis is on defining, analysing and developing an individual and focused approach to user experience design
Leading research and design for my graduation thesis project, in collaboration with my classmate Alex Newson.
Live music experiences
To combine my interest and practice in live music with my design studies, I researched about live music experiences for my graduation project.
Initial idea: not always the best one?
Alex and I initially thought about helping geographically marginalised people to better access live music experiences. But researching about the live music industry led us to understand how this kind of project could further harm smaller actors in the music ecology.
Due to COVID restrictions, access to live concerts was limited when we started the project. We organised an initial workshop to better understand behaviours in two scenarios: a publicly live-streamed event, and a self-organised concert with roles given to each participant. These workshops led us to understand the importance of social connection in concert experiences.
Understanding the future of concerts
To better know what should be designed, we invited a touring artist, a music photographer, a music journalist and a local DJ to discuss about what future concerts might look like, and if these speculated concerts are plausible or not, and preferable or not. The workshop was inspired by speculative design practices and led us to discuss about inclusion and innovative technologies.
Researching live music experiences
Over 10 concerts were documented and 30 interviews of music fans, artists and venue staff conducted to better understand specificities of live music experiences across types of venues, events and genres. Interviews were then thematically analysed to reveal the uniqueness of grassroots live music experiences, but also their fallbacks compared to more popular events.
The struggle of grassroots venue experiences
Grassroots music venues in London have been increasingly closing down due to strict regulations, a lack of funding and a fall in attendance. Our research revealed a lack of social and emotional connection between artists and their audiences, which is an increasingly important factor for concert attendants.
How is connection created at concerts?
Leading a focus group and a generative workshop, we invited different stakeholders to think about how connection is created at concerts and how it could be fostered in small music venues.
Testing many ideas
Many different design opportunities emerged, including a modular furniture toolkit for venues, placemaking for local urbanism and sensory technologies. Due to time restrictions, we needed to quickly test simple ideas, which we did in the form of an experiments-led DYI concert.
A ritual-inspired participatory activity
We designed an intimate, communal experience that makes artists' warm-up ritual participatory, by engaging audiences through exercises, stories and objects before, during and after a concert performance.
A fully-designed workshop for music artists
Through testing and iteration, our design outcome evolved into a workshop that allows to co-design unique concert experiences with grassroots music artists through the collective exploration of participatory warm-ups, space dynamics and storytelling practices.
Click here to discover the full process of this project on my blog
The workshop conducted with 3 artists was followed by a self-organised public concert in London. The process was documented in the form of a video explaining the project, showing the workshop's outcomes in a real-life setting and feedback from our collaborating artists.
What I learnt
Leading critical research about a topic
Organising a concert