Souvinear App

The Team: Shai Bender, Aaron Israel, Jaime Jackson-Block, Kameron Kutz, Kaitlyn Nunez, Kristen Rehm, Anisa Sloan, & Victoria Stewart

Overview

Music has always been one of the strongest facilitators of human connection. Whether it’s a concert you both attend, or a song you both like, music has the potential to bring people together, in one shared experience. Souvinear is a mobile app for music communities. We provide a specific platform for discovering new music & live events, facilitate stronger connections between fans, and promote upcoming artists.

The Problem

Souvinear started in Fall 2017 in our junior workshop class. Two ideas were pitched; Souvenir (spelled the right way) and SwitchTune. One focused on a dedicated platform for documenting live music experiences, while the other introduced a more organic way of discovering music through geolocation. We saw a commonality between these ideas. Both tap into individual parts of the music sharing experience which has had growing pains since it transitioned into the digital age. Despite the feeling of connection music can provide, current services such as Ticketmaster, Apple Music, and Spotify provide no singular place where you can find access to all of these services in one joint experience. Each service only handles one aspect of the overall music experience which can encompass a plethora of applications across different platforms. This leaves us disconnected — the question becomes how can we combine the music experience to encourage further connection between fans, artists, and venue.


Concepts from IDM Workshop, 2017

Our answer? Souvinear. Souvinear fills the gaps in the music discovery experience, whether that’s a live show or a new song. We created three pillars, that not only are our core goals when a user is on the app but also how users navigate. Connect, Discover, and Explore. Connect is a list of connections that you’ve made through the app. You can share journals of events you’ve attended with these connections. Discover is a new organic way of discovering music. The swapbox holds all the music users have picked up as they walk around and pass by spaces marked on the map that you can see in explore. Explore is a user-curated hotspot map showing live events in your area. Anyone can make a hotspot leaving their mark on the city. Hotspots are user curated hubs that can be placed anywhere signaling spaces where live music is occurring, songs can be shared, or both.

The Process

The problems we were tackling are complex which added to the challenge of creating a cohesive and enjoyable experience. Research was pivotal in the early stages because we not only wanted to understand music consumers but all facets of the music industry. How they could benefit from Souvinear and filling in the. Music discovery is only one small portion of the overall Souvinear experience; our main user-base are music consumers, people who are going to concerts, streaming music on Spotify, and discuss music on different social media apps. We tested countless hours of focus groups and paper prototypes with mostly students who were either musicians or spent a large portion of their time listening to music, or going to concerts.

Our UX process involved defining our users/audience. We provided surveys that asked questions regarding music listening habits, frequency of concert attendance, and how people connect through music currently. We performed user research and created user personas to help define our audience even further. Based on these exercises, we analyzed our data and we went from creating low-fidelity wireframes, to high-fidelity wireframes which included font choices, colors, and UI elements. With a design system in place, we were able to create a style guide. After design was complete, we started development of a web application. We used Google Maps API, a PHP database, and other development tools in order to make this happen.

The entire time we developed and designed, we were working using an agile process, reiterating upon our designs with new feedback from users each week.

Development

After our junior workshop class, our idea was validated when we won two design awards for Souvinear. One was the Rose Gold Muse Creative Award, under the web app category. The other was Graphic Design USA Web Design Award.

With this encouraging news, and our passion for Souvinear, we decided to take the idea into our senior year for senior project.

The summer before senior project, we did a complete rehaul of the branding, design, and color scheme of our app. We shifted away from the lighter pinks, blues, and whites, and chose new fonts that reflected our brand and our idea much better. The lighter colors felt childish and young compared to the slick use of the dark purples in our brand. The purple became iconic and synonymous with Souvinear. With this new style guide in mind, we wanted to grow the user experience out of adolescence as well.

After a proof of concept created in IDM Junior Workshop, Souvinear moved into native development. We used Apple’s flagship iOS development platform, Xcode, and one of its languages, Swift, to write the app, starting in November 2018. Over the course of the next 6 months, we spent countless hours planning out and building the application using technologies such as Google Maps API, Spotify API, and Firebase.

Spotify’s API provided a large library of music for users to pin and swap, while Google Maps API provided a base map for users to update in realtime with hotspots of the events happening around them. Firebase was used to maintain user’s data securely.

While developing natively, we entered our idea into the Baiada School of Entrepreneurship’s StartupFest. This was the first time we entered a competition of this sort, and we were very excited to be accepted into the first round. We pitched our idea on stage in front of over 300 people, and while we didn’t make the final cut, we learned a lot from this experience, and realized we wanted to enter Souvinear into other startup competitions.

We were able to sign a contract with the Baiada Institute, which granted us flex space and allowed us access to new resources. Further along the road, we were accepted into SXSW’s Student Startup Madness competition, and gained national recognition for our idea. And in May, we won Judge’s Pick from Baiada Institue’s Proving Ground pitch competition, awarding us 250$! Participating in startup competitions has been a great way for us to expand our skills and knowledge, and learn more about how we can push Souvinear further.

Result

After almost two years of incredibly hard work and dedication, we currently have a successful Alpha application, running through Apple’s TestFlight. Anyone with an iPhone and Spotify account is able to download and run Souvinear on their phone. To celebrate this milestone, we hosted a launch event in the lobby of our college building, Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. The event was incredibly successful, with over 100 people in attendance, 70 app downloads, and 50 swapped songs. We had 5 local Philly acts play live music, 2 of them from our very own team. It was an amazing night of celebration and excitement for the launch of our app. Hearing all of the positive feedback has boosted our passion for this project even further, and makes us very excited for the future.

Check out some video’s of our app.

Pin a song to your profile using Spotify’s API. Search for whatever defines you at that moment in time — pinned songs can be changed whenever you’d like!

Swap music in the swapbox, preview new picked up songs, and choose to either swipe down to collect them, or up to remove them. Hold and press to save for later.

Discover local events using the hotspot map, a user-curated hub of live shows going on in your area. See the current mix, or all songs that are being swapped at that spot.

Create your own hotspot! If you’re hosting a show, or just want to swap some music with friends, you can curate your own music swapping. Set a name, address, radius, time frame, and description for your event. Happy swapping!

Download the state of the app at our soft launch here:

One of our goals with Souvinear is to facilitate connections in a music environment. We put that to the test with SVNRFEST. A concert and celebration of the soft launch of our app. We had 5 local acts play, including two from our very own team. Over 100+ people showed up, we had 70+ app downloads, and 50+ songs swapped. We received lots of positive feedback from friends, family, and DIGM peers, and had an awesome night! Our launch event was very successful, and we we’re very proud of the progress we made to get to this point.

The Future

We have a lot of plans for Souvinear in the future. Now that we have a successful Alpha product, we plan on dividing our upcoming tasks and ideas into phases. Post-graduation means the start of Phase II, in which we are going to be closely working with artists and venues to see what features of Souvinear can be pushed further, and are especially desirable to this group of users.

In terms of development, we are going to be working on creating a Souvinear for both iOS and Android users. We would like our application to be as accessible as possible, for all types of smartphone users.

We also anticipate on entering more startup competitions. We’ve recently entered and been selected to interview with EMRG, an opportunity we are very excited for. We want to continue pursuing our entrepreneurial goals. Making connections and networking with people in related fields, who can help us accelerate our goals, will be a primary concern as well. Finding new ways to attract users, continuing with our agile process, and performing frequent usability testing will drive us towards this success.

Lastly, we would like to eventually become a legal entity, and form a company. While we’re still uncertain of the exact timing of this, we know that with consistent growth in user base and more marketing success, becoming a company falls somewhere on that timeline.