Thesis: Location-Based Mixtape Concept Research

Turning my head around my thesis idea, I realized it was first pretty important that I understand how we've consumed music through time to really understand how the experience has changed and what I'm implying with the experience I create. I also looked into other apps that use unlocked content through geo-location, audio sharing, or both.

  • 1877 Phonograph/Gramophone, used for recording and reproducing audio to a rotating cylinder or disc
  • 1889 Jukebox, mostly held one record, coin-operated, an intimate experience prior to 1928, when loudspeakers were attached, allowing many to listen at once
  • 1943 Vinyl Records, and thus the adaptation of the Gramophone to something similar to modern record players
  • 1964 Cassettes/8tracks, playable on fixed players in homes or in vehicles
  • 1970 Walkman, a portable device for playing Cassettes
  • 1982 CD/Portable CD player, a device for playing [mostly] manufactured CDs
  • **1982 CD-R is included in consumer PC, allows users to make their own CDs, but cost upwards of $30k originally
  • 1990 MP3s are born, drastically reducing audio file sizes
  • 1997 MP3 player introduced, originally cost around $200 and capable of 2 hours of play
  • 2001 iPod introduced by Apple
  • 2007 iPhone/Smartphones introduced with audio playback capabilities

I find this timeline fascinating not only from a technological advancement standpoint, but more so in thinking about how it has affected us exchanging and listening to music. For example, my first experience making a 'mix tape' was in grade school, when I recorded songs off of the radio onto a cassette tape. A time-consuming task, I had to wait for my favorite songs to come on, run to the recorder, press play, and hope that I pressed stop before commercials came on. Later, in high school, mp3s were around, and I knew one guy with a setup that let him make mixes easily, for $5/cd. We brought in a list of songs, paid him, and he'd bring us a cd back a few days later. Maybe we all know that guy.

I'm really interested in the anticipation and the novelty of those mixes, as well as the intimacy that I experienced when receiving a custom-mix, made for me from someone else.


Fast-forward to today. Just as I expected, I'm not the only one that has thought about an app that involves location-based audio. Here are some other apps that do something similar to what I'm thinking.



This is the closest to what I'm thinking of, though it is limited to 'unlocking' the playlists in venues, rather than along paths, which is more the experience that I'm interested in.


This isn't location-based at all, but is interesting in its ability to make music-sharing 'as easy as text messaging'. I'm not a fan of how mass it feels, though. Not what I'm going for.


Sound Graffiti

Sound Graffiti is really interesting to me as a tangible object. This isn't terribly realistic for one-to-one interactions I'd like to inspire, but relevant as a location-based audio experience. Also interesting— this isn't for users to create content… this is meant as a consumption experience… users consuming specific artists' music (this particular example is for Bob Dylan).

  • Is the user aware of the entire route? Just the start and end points? Just the starting point? I.e., let me take you from A to…….let me take you from A to Blet me take you from A to B to C to….
  • How will I allow users to navigate? Do I need to make a map available? Can it be more simple? Would direction-based gestural navigation work?
  • How is the experience different for the 'mixer' and the 'mixee'?
  • What sort of features would support a conversation? Is a mix a conversation?

Most of these questions I'm hoping to get feedback from in my User Testing process. For now, I'm focusing on brainstorming different technical approaches to accommodate for different experiences. For my next round of User Testing, I'd like to be able to have a basic navigation prototype to see how people react in that context.