For this first project I was interested in exploring the way streaming platforms and other new technology have changed the way people consume music. While applications like Spotify and Apple Music allow for instantaneous access to a broad range of musical artists, the artists themselves are being negatively impacted by their usage. According to Rolling Stone, in recent years as more people have become dependent on streaming, “U.S. musicians only take home one-tenth of the national industry revenues” because each stream generates between $0.006 and $0.0084, and only about 10% of that goes to the artist. As a result, the amount of touring has increased considerably, since it is one of the only ways for artists to make money. A system such as this also seems to favor bigger names in the music industry, who will no doubt get enough streams to make a profit, but discourages those trying to make their way into the music scene. If streaming continues to affect artists this way, it makes me wonder if we will see a decrease in the number of new acts in the coming years.
With this design, I hope to reflect some of the issues of current streaming methods, using a found object, text, images, and a modeled/rapidly prototyped object. I initially came up with the idea once I had discovered my found object – a small propeller that when plugged into a phone is supposed to spin. Unfortunately this one was broken, but the spinning motion could still be done manually. The motion reminded me of the way streaming platforms have the option to shuffle music, which then led me to the concept in the above images. The rectangular form at the top represents the device used to stream, and each side will have an image from Spotify to signify shuffling to a new song. It will either be rapidly prototyped or made from other material. Connected at the base of this form is the spinning found object, which in turn is connected to a trapezoidal prism with a half-sphere cut out for it to sit within. I do plan on rapidly prototyping the trapezoidal prism, and adding text that says, “You have contributed $0.006,” to make the viewer question their interaction if they decide to spin the form at the top. I think the images from Spotify will be recognizable enough that when paired with the text, it will cause the viewer to think about the role they play in this new world of streaming music.
Other sources looked at in the process:
As I was making these renders, I found myself questioning the original design from my sketches because the function of the propeller did not seem as intuitive when facing down, so I flipped it the opposite way. This would make it a little clearer to the viewer that the top portion is meant to spin. I also considered which songs would be appropriate for the focus of this project, so I chose relatively well-known ones that criticize the music industry. Since the object is meant to resemble devices used for streaming platforms, I wanted each side of the rectangular prism to be like a screen, so I added glow effects to stress this idea. The rest of the object remains in simple black and white with limited texture to complement the simple design of the object and the streaming platform layout.