Have been playing with quirky.com so here's a concept to get us started. It's called "Paperplayer" :-)
- Track-based music purchases have created confusion for some listeners
Many over 30s miss the ability to play albums and many of them can't get with playlists. Specifically, the album format offered value in the form of curation. In the eleven years since the launch of iTunes, many of us have grown collections of music based on single-track purchases and this has lead to a frustrating state of affairs where customers own large collections of music but never seem to be able to listen to them. Social music management services like Spotify have used social to fill the curation gap with some success and iTunes offers a "complete my album" function but the service is fundamentally playlist and track driven, not album-focused.
- The sensory experience of flicking through a rack of CDs or LPs has all but disappeared
As more music consumption is via smart TV, MP3 players or other digital music solution, both online, social (like Spotify) and local. The experience of a simple manual gesture in the form of fingers flicking covers and then dropping a dic on a tray and then getting x minutes of appropriate music is a good one and I believe there is room for a system that would enable analog sorting and manipulating of albums.
The solution is a music player that uses physical cards in physical trays to store, arrange and play music.
Imagine a beautiful ebony or bamboo tray sitting on your midcentury book-case. In this tray are stack of cards, each 2" square and each representing an album. On the front of the card is the album artwork and on the back the track list etc. As well as track data, the back of each card has a small barcode which identifies the album.
I suggest that the cards could be printed on heavy paper at home or the system could integrate with Moo. Imagine logging onto Moo and theeling the service to suck you iTunes match collection and generate stacks of album covers based on your iTunes database. How awesome would that be:-)
The analog experience (the beautiful design, the smell of the wood or the brush of stainless steel) becomes a digital one when a card is picked up and dropped on the "player". The player scans the card and plays the album. No need to click start, or fast forward or double-click on iTunes or arse about with crappy wifi or whatever.
- Let your fingers walk through the tray to find an album
- Drop the card on the player
- Sit back and listen to the music. Want a different album? Pick up the card and drop another one in
From a technology standpoint, the player is an mp3 player plugged into whatever home system the user wants to use. The magic is in the analog controls. I could imagine the player looking bit like a Thorens turntable or it might be fun to have an AIWA beatbox shape for gen-Xers. The form factor of the player is open to the designer's imagination.
Here's the kinda visual look I was thinking of. Add a couple of Vu meters and you're good:-)
This idea is on Quirky if you're curious to see how the service works (or doesn't)