small snare innovationRecently, BerkleeICE completed a summer lab that tried to help foster the creation of a new service/project/business that will be beneficial to creating an open source for the identification of music rights.

The summer lab was under the banner of the Open Music Initiative— a leading group of people from creators, to technologists, to entrepreneurs, and music industry experts that are driven and devoted to promoting the development of open source standards in the music industry.

IDEO, A global design company that helps public and private companies with their innovation and growth, guided the technical platform for the project. For the last few months, OMI hosted gatherings and labs. Some of the launch gatherings include one on June 22 in New York City with all OMI participants. One of the events included a three-week innovation lab in Boston, run by BerkleeICE with guidance from IDEO, which involved choosing participates from current students and recent graduates create models and explore the project deeper.

Through BerkleeICE and IDEO, the summer lab was devoted to exploring ways in the advancing of the open source standards through a series of two, five-day sprints. The sprints were focused on finding ways for incentivizing artists to capture critical data and ways to help enable the fan experience.

For the past three weeks I have had the honor of participating as one of the 18 fellows in the lab. The experience was very different than anything I could’ve imagined so far in my journey at Berklee. There were moments of inspiration, moments of stress and some of us, including myself even teared up under the pressure of long hours and intense discussions. The projects that were created at the end of each of the five days were proceeded by two demo days to demonstrate our concepts.

Sprint One: Capture Complete Data

When I first learned about the program, I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into. The Ideo process is something that is usually drawn over a longer period of time, but we went through a hyper speed version of their development process.

The first day started with being given the “big questions” and then generating ideas from those questions with our three people groups. Being put into such small groups allowed each individual person to speak up and for everyone to be a leader. No voice went unheard. Next we had to prototype three or four of our major ideas. This could be something physical, a website, possibly the wire frame of an application. The possibilities were endless when we were given the reins to use some of the IDEO resourses at their main campus. Next, probably the hardest part, was doing research. We were only given a day to conduct research and that was very difficult. My group was able to get a few 45 minute interviews as well as on-the-spot street interactions. After gathering data from the research we went back and refined out original ideas. We then continued to refine our prototypes and created demonstrations of how our concepts would work. Only being given a week for our first concept we weren’t able to actual develop a working product. What we did do is use a “smoke and mirrors” effect to give the impression of a working application. The results were phenomenal considering the time frame given.

Mirror: “Inspired moments”

Credit: Pablo Lalama Salazar

Credit: Pablo Lalama Salazar

This was the project that my group and I created. Here’s the product description we came up with: Through “Mirror” which is a wearable device that senses moments of inspiration and focus, you will never lose your flow of creativity. Imagine you are playing your instrument, you start improvising, and what you just created was amazing. You then go to record what you just created, and you don’t remember how to play it. By the time you go to write down your great ideas you don’t remember them. This device will store and save data as it is being created through your biometric information.

This project was very confusing at first and I didn’t understand exactly what the concept was. It wasn’t until the very last day that I had an idea of what we were doing. Innovation can be a roller coaster. There were many ups and downs with this project. For me it was also the logistics of the idea. Right now the technology is very far into the future. To design a smart device that understands your creative process is still many years in the making.

Here’s a list of the other concepts generated by the other fellows.

  • OnRecord: “Let your music, show your inspiration.”
  • HELIX: “Your music DNA can live forever.”
  • Pufferfish: “Artists united.”
  • Campfire: “Add creative fuel to the fire.”
  • Trace: “It all started with…”

Sprint Two: Fan Experience

The structure of Spring Two was the same as Spring One. The only difference is that we were put into different groups. In a perfect world, where all of our ideas from Sprint One are implemented, how can we use this gathered data to enhance the fan experience? For this sprint we created six new completely different ventures, based off these questions.

Beam: “Tune into your surroundings.”


Credit: Alison McNair

This was the other concept my group came up with and was my favorite of the two that I worked on. Here’s how we pitched it: Let’s reinvent the curation of music. Providing you with music to correlate with your environment. Beam is a location-based API plug-in that allows fans to effortlessly share and connect songs. The music complements your surroundings while you are traveling to a foreign country, experiencing different cultures, or simply on your commute to work.

This is like Pokemon Go, Geocaching, and Yik Yak but for music. I wish I had the capability to make my “Beam” project a reality. It would be integrated with either Apple Music, Spotify, or even Facebook. You walk around looking for beams on your commute that people are uploading music too. It’s a new way to discover music that goes well with your environment.

Here’s a list of the other concepts from Sprint Two:

  • INTRSTLR: “Behind every album and every song, there are unsung heroes.”
  • Lucy: “Immersive experiences. Anywhere.”
  • Mark: “The mind and music work hand and hand.”
  • Aura: “Essential listening. Do away with your playlist, listen to what you like.”
  • WAVELENGTH: “Fan or artists? What’s the difference?”

In only three weeks the 18 fellows, including myself, were able to create all these amazing concepts. At the end of the sprints we were able to present our concepts which was the most rewarding feeling. There were points int he process where the light at the end of the tunnel didn’t seem to exist but eventually we got there. I would like to thank the IDEO team for all their hard work, The MIT Media Lab for their support and of course BerkleeICE to reaching out to the Berklee community for allowing us to be apart of this experience.


Summer Whittaker