Pro goals 2021

Happy new year! All my wishes of luck and happiness in a, let’s hope, Covid-free world for 2021 ♡. May your personal and professional projects be great and your learnings even greater.

2020 was a bummer, in a way.
What was the major drawback of Covid-19 to you?
To me, it was the constant uncertainty about the plans we were making.

2020 = Dream > Plan > Cancel > Repeat.

It was also the first year we all had SO MUCH TIME at home.
I gather that many of us haven’t enjoyed these lockdowns. Being cut from the outside world, has, indeed, put us in a very particular mood. Not all for the worse either, it also let new room for experimentation.
And various clans emerged… Which one was yours?
– The MyFirstTikTok Clan ;
– The YogaMeditation Clan ;
– The HandStand Clan (yes, I joined this fun one…);
– The NowICookMyOwnStuff Clan ;
– The Netflix&Chill Clan ; …

Me first days after 1st lockdown, in the Basque Country.

In our professional life, lockdowns brought an unusual sauce as well.
– Different energies, creativity flow and focus coming from homeoffice ;
– Time for an extended morning or evening routine ;
– Exploration or raise of expertise through online training ;
– Some of us tripled down their effort at work to survive the crisis, learning a lot!
– The virus also reminded that behind every professional there are families and their own challenges to overcome, letting a form of solidarity and goodwill emerge.

In this context, as an annual ritual, I’ll share with you my experience of the past year and a few of my 2021 goals.

1. Product Management

« FestView, WookyHome, Kraze, Appaloosa.io: I hope that these products will reach their targets in 2020. My goal is to continue working on 3 to 5 running projects, focusing on industries that I love. » > Achieved ✅

FestView 👨🏻‍🎤

Covid-19 imposed a tough year to the live music industry. But we’ve seen many on-line services and experiences flourish.
And in this trend, what a take-off for FestView this last year! The mission was to take the app from Bêta to V1 with confidence… And as I’m writing we’re a few days away from the official V1 release.
We gained strong confidence thanks to very positive data:
⤴ contributor users went from 50 to 1200 in 3 months (+2400%)
⤴ artist pages they created went from 80 to 7500 in 6 months
(+9400%)
⤴ users spent 03 min 50 sec on the encyclopedia in average during the last quarter

This initial core community of music lovers is passionate and strongly committed. Now we have to work hard not to deceive them.
🎯 2021 challenges we are to take up to maintain this exciting pace:
Grow a team of 15 music addicts. For now we’re 7. Want to join the band? -> See our job offers.
Grow sustainably our content and community for the sake of reliable music encyclopedia.
Deliver as much as possible of the amazing improvements our users ask for.

📱150

It’s a new project, deeply questioning the relevance of current social tools to enhance our social life.
If you feel like you’re losing time on Instagram or Facebook, please be our guest and have a look at these:
Website
Survey
🎯 For 150, this year’s targets are :
– Continue grooming theoretical and practical insights on human social life
– Gather people interested into finding a solution to the problem
– Build a prototype of this solution

WookyHome 🏡

Amazing progress on our journey here too. To a given extent, I could say even more with the virus. 30% of french people now want to extend their remote working practice.
The traditional office is today more questionable than ever. It’s a good context for us. Here are the updates on WookyHome:
– 🦾 First… the platform is up! Go and share it to the world 🌍 -> wooky.app.
To give birth to it, I took this web development bootcamp during the 2020 spring Covid-lockdown. For many reasons it was one of the best choices of the year.
– 👍🏻 First users were showing up and tests were promising… before the winter Covid-lockdown struck! That was really encouraging and pushed us to work harder for 2021, when the dust settles down.
– 🏡 We raised our database from 10 to 200 places. And we’re currently selecting a lot more.
🎯 Hopefully 2021 will be a kick-off year for WookyHome:
– Level up to 1000 homes. Want to rent your place? -> Click here.
– Get a handful of satisfied companies
– Fully automise the booking flow
Grow a first little team to grow the product and the business

🔬 Micro-Scope

At a point this year, I needed help to cope with the increasing workload on the different products. I shared these challenges with a student who’s willing to learn about Product Management. And along the road, I learned a few things:
– sharing the work drives towards simplification/clarification and is great source of learning. Both for tools and methods
customer-facing discussions and product curiosity are key components of PM job, at every level
– even with relatively stable roadmaps, collaborating with someone on a set of product tasks required a lot more sync that I’d imagine. They vary a lot a week from another.
It was exciting and promising, so I thought about engaging with the creation of a smallish PM agency. But for now I find myself more interested into skill-sharing and product management, than into the development of a consultancy business.

For these exciting Product adventures, special thanks and kudos to Alexandre Pujol, Arthur Grunheid, Brian Keravec, Hugo Sanchez, Jean-Philippe Keravec, Laurent Douville, Léa Seica, Michael Ellert, Michael Souphith, and Steven Keravec.

2. Blogging

« I will write 2 times more articles next year. […] I will also increase small publications […] around music-tech news. » > Partly achieved 🟠

About the articles: I did began a Product Management Saga. It follows the adventures of an early stage music product – FestView – until it hopefully grows as far as it can. The goal is to analyse and exhibit real product management insights. Straight from the field, with full transparency.
The experience of writing was a thrill! I’m very happy with the 3 first episodes that received very positive feedback. And I still very strongly recommend anyone to get to write about what they’re passionate about. Both for structuring existing ideas and discovering even more in the process.

I faced two issues, though, that prevented me getting further on this saga and that I’d like to share with you:
#1 – I didn’t consider the writing as a priority.
I was telling myself « I got to write on that, but I’ll do it later, now I got work to do. » The ever increasing workload related to FestView itself would always win the battle of prioritisation.
#2 – I lacked confidence in the value of the content.
It was my first year as freelance PM. A bit isolated, I wasn’t always confident about my learnings, and I felt like I had more questions than answers to share.

In the process, I was motivated by the traffic coming in, doubling from the year before. The saga seemed to meet its readers.

🎯 In 2021, I will double down on my effort on this Product Management Saga, get it back on track and, more generally, double down my effort on the product management writing. Here are a few fixes to the issues mentioned above:
#1.1 -> Every Wednesday morning is now locked, free of any meeting and fully dedicated to inspiration and writing.
#1.2 -> To prevent me being afraid by an enormous article to write, I will release more little content, more frequently.
#1.3 -> I will co-write articles with my peers and other professionals of the industry. The more, the merrier! A few topics are already on track…
#2 -> I’ll allow myself to publish answerless content. Sharing context and questions should still bring more than sharing nothing at all.

Special thanks to Remi Guyot here, who reminded me how powerful a long-term practice of writing is profitable for the mind.

Now about the small music-tech industry news. I did launch this Instagram account and published a few stories and posts.
Conclusions: the publication process brought very little added value compared to the attention it required. Even with a bit automation.
This year you’ll find me more active on:
My Twitter account – for PM and music industry content
Product Manager France 🇫🇷 (Facebook group) – as admin, exploring ways of having fun and learn with french PM community

3. Design

« Plan for 2020 is to work a little more on design missions. » > Achieved ✅

All the design efforts were put into FestView and WookyHome. Hope you’ll like.

4. Remote working

« Spread the word and the best practices/tips of remote working around me + Continue working from the places that I love around the world » > Achieved but…✅

Remote working was… weird this year! It seemed to be both mandatory and impossible.
Mandatory, because we just simply couldn’t reach the office.
Impossible, because there was just one place we could use: our own living room.

Most of the time, travelling wasn’t allowed within our own countries ; and even less in-between different countries.
As some professionals I enjoyed greener part of France during the 1st lockdown (Biarritz🇫🇷), and the rest of the year was a split in-between Paris 🇫🇷 and Rome 🇮🇹. A few last days in the Alpes were a glow.

The Traditional Annual Startuper Picture

🌳 This year, a little innovation though: I’m planting trees to catch back the extra CO2 emitted by my flights. Which is a lot!
3.1 tons of CO2 for me in 2020 to be accurate.
A tree absorbs 150 kg CO2 in 30 years, in average.
For 2020 I’ve committed to plant 36 trees, which should absorb almost 2 times the 3.1t CO2 I’ve emitted by then. Plus, these trees are frenchies 🇫🇷

May 2021 bring you amazing ideas and opportunities to work form the places you love 🥰

Special thanks to you Gabi, for making this life possible and amazing.

Festview Saga 🎵 – Mettre en ligne un Wikipédia de la musique (en mieux)

Un de mes meilleurs amis travaille depuis 2 ans sur le développement d’un Wikipédia de la musique, mais en mieux. Un projet énorme. On bosse ensemble depuis janvier pour lancer la Version 1.0 de son application ; on s’amuse comme des p’tits fous et on produit des choses intéressantes.
Je vais prendre quelques chapitres pour en parler, cela intéressera principalement : les professionnels qui travaillent dans le management de produit ; notre entourage qui suit les aventures de l’application – aka Festview ; et puis ceux qui se sont justes perdus alors qu’ils cherchaient un article court et concis.

I want my MTV 🎵

Lui, c’est un dingue de rock progressif depuis qu’il est tout petit – Pink Floyd, Led Zep‘, Clapton… – et plus généralement, il a toujours porté une attention folle à ce qu’il écoutait. Pour vous dire, la légende dit qu’il a même réussi à éviter Deeeeeeespaaacito de Luis Fonsi, et qu’il n’aurait encore jamais entendu la fameuse mélodie (NB : 6,7 Milliards de vues sur Youtube à l’heure où j’écris)
(NB2 : il vient de relire mon texte et me dit « Mec, j’ai fini par l’entendre Despacito 😕 » Bon… il a tenu longtemps quoi).

C’est donc tout naturellement qu’en 2018, il imagine une plateforme aussi exigeante que sa passion de mélomane : une encyclopédie musicale participative.
Un outil capable d’afficher les liens historiques entre The Beatles, Cream et les The Yardbirds. Un moyen de dire au monde quel modèle de guitare utilise Santana. Ou de révéler que, OUI, c’est bien Yoko Ono qui a mis le bazar dans la relation entre John Lennon, George Harrison et consorts…
Et pour aller plus loin il s’est dit que ce devrait être un outil ouvert, participatif, qui laisserait chacun déverser son savoir musical. Quel que soit le genre, l’instrument ou le pays. Comme Wikipédia, donc, mais uniquement pour la musique et plus riche en termes d’interactions : avec des vidéos, des images, des musiques…

A cette époque il sortait de business school ; et sa formation ne lui avait pas transmis de connaissances nécessaires au développement d’une telle app. De plus, il faut savoir qu’on a peu d’occasions de se faire des copains développeurs dans ce milieu-là. Il a donc pris le taureau par les cornes et s’est lancé dans le dev de sa plateforme. Solo !

https://www.fest-view.com/

Deux ans plus tard : Festview est bien là. En version ßeta. Avec des pages permettant de consulter des informations sur des artistes, des lieux et des événements. On peut créer son compte et remplir des formulaires pour contribuer. Il y a aussi une recherche et un système de points gagnés pour chaque contribution.
En tout, 17 fonctionnalités et sous-fonctionnalités. Dans un design aguicheur. Vraiment costaud.
A ce stade, il faut bien s’imaginer la ténacité que cela demande de construire un site pareil quand, à la base, on a été formé à l’analyse financière.

Le revers de la médaille : la concentration qu’a demandé le codage de Festview l’a mécaniquement écarté de quelques aspects du développement de sa boite… Le nez dans le code, on ne peut pas être sur tous les fronts. Et, en janvier 2020, une grande question reste sans réponse :

Quand et comment la première version de l’application sera-t-elle lancée pour le grand public ?

Avec ce grand point d’interrogation vient une palanquée de zones d’ombre angoissantes :

  • Quels bugs faut-il résoudre avant de lancer la v1 ?
  • Quelles sont les fonctionnalités clés sur lesquelles il faut miser ?
  • Et puis, qui sont exactement les utilisateurs à qui on veut s’adresser ?
  • En fait, qu’est-ce qu’ils en pensent les utilisateurs du concept ?
  • Mais d’ailleurs, c’est quoi exactement le concept ?

C’est là que j’entre en piste. [voix de guru qui vend des formations en ligne] « Et j’ai trouvé LA solution ! On a TOUT résolu en UNE APREM ! Et je vais te dire COMMENT !« 

Mdr. Pas vraiment.

Ça fait 4 mois, dont 10 jours d’accompagnement et là on commence à peu près à voir où on va.

God’s Plan 🎵

Au moment où j’écris, nous avons travaillé sur 6 volets pour répondre à la question : Quand et comment lancer la première version de Festview ? Chacun de ces volets va faire l’objet d’un chapitre. Voici donc le sommaire de cette saga :

  1. 🔭 Consolider la vision de Festview
  2. 🕵🏻‍♂️ Définir et tester le parcours clé de Festview
  3. 🎯 Définir des objectifs stratégiques pour Festview
  4. 🛠 Cadrage méthodologique léger sur le delivery
  5. 🖌 Appui sur les réflexions UX et production de designs pour les User Stories
  6. 🧪 Dialogue avec une communauté précieuse de ßeta-testeurs

Les professionnels du management de projets digitaux se rendront compte ici qu’on se rapproche d’une méthodologie by-the-book. Elle reprend des approches de Lean Management, de développement agile, SCRUM, Kanban… J’ai 5 ans d’expérience pro et je n’imaginais pas que repasser par ces basiques là me ferait autant de bien.

Dans chaque chapitre et, sans artifices, je vous présenterai : (1) la problématique qui se posait à nous, (2) puis le travail que nous avons mené pour la résoudre, et enfin (3) les outils que nous avons employés. Si possible, j’enrichirai le récit avec les livrables que nous avons produits à ce moment là.

Prélude: le coeur battant et des courbatures 🎵

« Il faut reprendre l’expérience utilisateur. Depuis le début. »
« Et définir des profils d’utilisateurs. »
« Attend non, il n’y a même pas de méthodo agile, on va d’abord faire ça. »
« Non, je sais : il faut des objectifs clairs pour les prochains mois. Pour l’année même. Comme ça on est fixés ! Avec des indicateurs, tout ça… »
« Ce qui compte c’est le business, il faut démarcher des billetteries en ligne. Grosse campagne d’e-mailing, BIM! »
« Et puis il faut faire un événement de lancement aussi. BAM! »
« Haaa mais il y a ce bug aussi là… »

Ce dialogue là, c’est une représentation simplifiée de ce qu’il se passe, je crois, dans la tête de tout Product Manager lorsqu’il arrive dans ce genre de contexte. C’est vraiment à double tranchant : d’un côté une excitation provenant du grand nombre de questions très stimulantes auxquelles il faut répondre ; mais de l’autre, un risque de surchauffe. De vouloir tout résoudre, et trop vite. De s’emballer.

Je n’ai pas pris cette voie, pour trois raisons :

  1. Je l’ai déjà empruntée par le passé, et ce n’est agréable pour personne. Déjà pas pour soi, car on s’impose un rythme et une charge mentale trop importants. Et pour l’équipe en place non plus, car elle se sent défiée, bousculée au lieu de se sentir aidée.
  2. La posture de consultant indépendant impose de penser en continue à la satisfaction de son co-équipier, devenu client. Et puis, moi aussi, je suis un passionné de musique. Le projet me parle beaucoup. C’est ce genre de produit que j’ai toujours rêvé de bichonner.
  3. Notre relation amicale est précieuse ; notre relation professionnelle très jeune. La première ne devant surtout pas subir la seconde : il faut être vigilant.

En conclusion, mon état d’esprit à ce moment là c’est « On va y aller tranquillement, pas-à-pas ».

[la suite très bientôt, que je publierai aussi lentement que sortent les derniers épisodes du Bureau des Légendes – S5]

Spotify for pets ?!

Yep, you read it well hahaha! Spotify for pets. Two days ago, music streaming leader Spotify launched an automated playlist maker designed to please your beloved animal. They describe it as « An algorithmically created playlist based on your listening habits and your pet’s attributes, so it’s music you both can enjoy.« 
I’ve tested the setup, it’s quite nice!
What about the overall experience? Would you qualify it as a buzz feature?

For now, this funny tool is made for iguanas, dogs, birds, cats and hamsters. Once you’ve selected what type of room-mate you live with, you’re to answer 3 questions around their personality. So that, we suppose, the issued playlist fits even better with the atmosphere of your living room. The same attributes are used for all animals: energy, shyness and curiosity.

In the end, you get a 30-songs playlist that mixes your preferences and discoveries (50% of the artists/musics that were playlisted were already in my library).
But does it really adapt the playlist to the pet’s attributes?

Does it work?

Yes it does!

With the same CAT, I’ve tested 2 different sets of answers. The first one, qualified as APATHETIC, SHY and RELAX. The second one, qualified as CURIOUS, ENERGETIC, FRIENDLY. Here’s the comparison below.

Indeed, I would definitely agree that artists and musics in the two playlists have opposed style and atmosphere.
The first one stars tracks that I would qualify as relaxing, dreamy, blurry or chilly. Musically speaking, they can be defined with : low tempo (70 to 100BPM), poetic, dramatic, sad or elegiac musical phrases (e.g. Am-F-C-G)…
– But the second one is radically different and offers songs I would qualify as exciting, boosting, happy or groovy. Musically speaking, they can be defined with : high tempo (100 to 140BPM), smily, happy or positive chords sequence (e.g. C-E-G)…
These are the data Spotify relies on in order to qualify their music genre and suggest to the right playlist. We’ll try to dig that matter in an other article.

Note that there’s a smart function in the algorithm that prevents it from suggesting twice the same content with the same data set. I’ve tested it 2 times with the same cat and the same attributes: the playlists had the same style, but not the same artists and musics.

Why this feature?

Spotify has proven many times being king in terms of retention. The paid service churn rate barely crosses the 20%. And 250 millions active users are at stake all around the world. As we can guess, this buzz feature is not supported by scientific background or any promise that your pets will feel better with the playlist. This new service aims at activating pet owners of all Spotify subscribers and even pet owners that haven’t tried the streaming service yet.
Plus, could you imagine how easy it is for any digital marketer to identify pet owners on social networks. Engagement around pet content is very easy to spot. As a product manager, I probably would think this feature as a conversion or retention lever that would go along a digital acquisition campaign targeting pet owners.

Let me know what you think 😉 Cheers !
PS : here are the two playlists: Energetic, Friendly, Curious / Relax, Shy, Apathic

Spotify Q3 2019: outperforming!

« Overall, the business is performing strongly ». Spotify results are once again over expectations, let’s take a quick tour of what’s to remember from this Q3-2019 report.

« Overall, the business is performing strongly« . Spotify results are once again over expectations, let’s take a quick tour of what’s to remember from this Q3-2019 report.

Podcasts

« Some of the increases in podcast listening are extraordinary, almost too good to be true. Our intuition is […] that we’re onto something special. So expect us to lean into our early success with podcasting and to share more insights ». It seems that the +39% of podcast listeners form Q2 to Q3 triggers data analysts attention! It might help very well to convert music listeners to Premium. And so far, 14% of MAU would be also podcasts listeners – around 35M users.
So far, you can listen to 500k podcasts titles on Spotify. And they’ll add 22 original Spotify series produced in their studios, in NYC. Even Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company Higher Ground signed an exclusive partnership with Spotify for podcast production.
Michael Krause, Managing Director Central Europe at Spotify, says that Spotify for Podcasters is more convenient for podcast producers than other competitors: « On many other platforms, they don’t know how many streams they have, or at what point people stopped listening during the episodes. We have all the analytical tools for partners« .

Also note that Spotify’s daughter company, Soundtrap, launched a dedicated product for Podcasters. Soundtrap for Storytellers offers an awesome combo of features that’ll help producers a lot:

  • Audio transcription. Preventing producers to lose hours into the writing of their stories. A very good point when you know that SEO for Podcast is as essential as any other web content.
  • Remote interviews. Share a simple link to your interviewee and they’ll join your podcast live!

Users

On major KPIs side, all lights are green: number of MAU soared to the sky up to 248M (+30% over last year) and number of subscribers reached unprecedented level of 113M users. As a reference, note that Apple music was flashed at 60M subscribers in June 2019. They pretend also having a 2x inferior churn than Apple Music – 4.41% users only quit the service within the month!

Duo and student offers

On marketing side, we can expect a Duo offer in Europe quite soon. As the Family plan, they tested the sharing of the Spotify Subscription with 1 person. It was a success. So we might be able to share it with our brother/sister, flatmate or colleague in the coming months. They say that subscribers will even get the first 3 months for free

Student offer was promoted in September with a « back-to-school » campaign and met its expectations too.

Let’s see how Q4 and Annual report 2019 will wrap up these good news!

Found this inspiring product stance by the way: « Our belief is that a better onboarding experience leads to increased engagement, which leads to better retention, conversion, satisfaction, and ultimately, lifetime value. » #yoda

A job in the Electronic Music industry? Doors Open ✅

Last March 2019, Resident Advisor, the historical electronic music content media has released… a job board! Its name is Doors Open. Yes they were looking for a way to advertise their job vacancies to their 40 million readers, so they published a job board only dedicated to electronic music companies’ job offers.

Have you ever dreamt working within the electronic music industry?

Last March 2019, Resident Advisor, the historical electronic music content media has released… a job board! Its name is Doors Open. Yes they were looking for a way to advertise their job vacancies to their 40 million readers, so they published a job board only dedicated to electronic music companies’ job offers. 

Today, after a first semester rolling live, what can you get out of it?

Header of Doors Open

164 & 54.

This is the total number of job offers (164) & featured companies (54) that they got so far. Worldwide and before filtering. So let’s say it straight: Doors Open is nothing comparable with any major job board. Linkedin can match you with hundreds of new positions every week.

But even before playing with the search engine, you already know that this website is much more about quality than quantity

For music companies, you can find major listening platforms such as Spotify, Deezer or MixCloud ; hard and software companies such as Ableton or the revolutionary Roli ; crazy London venue Ministry Of Sound ; or right management company BMG.

For positions as well, a bit of everything: logistics, public relations, design, data analyzing, front-end development, digital marketing or content management…
Also note that Doors Open suits all profiles: students looking for an internship, freelancers looking for a mission or regular workers searching the permanent position of their dream.

Signing up is very easy. Even without social connect. Even too easy I thought. The platform only asks for email and password. « Okay, I love music, and that’s why I’m here ; but what about my skills here? » Wouldn’t it be convenient that I tell a bit about my expertise or even passions before digging jobs? This way the board could showcase even more relevant offers.

Well for now, out of 164 offers to be honest, the filtering goes quite fast anyway :p

Amazon Music company's page on Doors Open, subscribe to Amazon Music job offers

The good thing is that you can subscribe to a specific company. Meaning you’ll get every new position that they publish. You can also subscribe with an « expertise » approach by ticking your field of skills ; and then the platform will let you know about all offers matching.

If you feel a little down in your job search, Doors Open has also a content section called « Behind the scene ». It stars some professionals that tell their story. They say how they got into the electronic music industry, how they like it now, and also some advices to you as a future candidate. Very interesting and inspiring.

Inspiration & passion for electronic music culture, that’s what companies that post job offers there are looking for when they seek the ideal candidate. As far as I know, Resident Advisor are the first ones to try to gather their entertained community around a job board. And their community is built with purists, millions of them. So it is really worth trying for any music company to publish a job offer there and see what type of candidates they get.

Doors Open offers three free months to post unlimited job offers. Even with a plug to your applicant tracking system. That is really worth trying then.

Pricing of Doors Open

Please reach out if you’ve already used Doors Open!

Kraze 💃🏻🕺🏽 The app you’ll need next Friday night

Do you remember last Friday night? 

Straight out of your working or studying day, you rushed into a bar for a couple of drinks with your friends. Happy as you were, you’ve warmed up together until you reached that key moment: « Guys! What do we do next?! ».

Kraz app help partygoers finding the right music event.

And this question is not so easy to answer… Today, if you want to find the perfect party for your crew, you have to patchwork some « I’ve-heard-abouts », with some Resident Advisor and Facebook events. If you care about the music that you want, then you must also pop over Soundcloud or Spotify to have a preview of the artists and DJsets. Eventually, you would also combine it with a public transport app to estimate and compare travel times… It’s a multi-interfaces, +15-minutes, hard-focus mission.

OR, to wrap it up the easy way, you can try Kraze.

Kraze app logo

Kraze helps partygoers finding the right music events around them.

This 2 years-old Paris-based startup has built a smart crawling algorithm that finds music events published on Facebook, and gathers them on a map. Just pick a date, and the app will show you what’s happening that day. As they’ve just released their V2, I thought it was a good moment to give it a thoughtful look. I’ve spent some time with one of its founders and CEO, Bastien Champ, to understand both the global mission that they want to achieve and the next features they think of.

☝🏻Before we get into the app, I wanted to share this vision that Bastien told me, and that made me veeeery curious:

« We want to bring cultural events into the in-real-time era, so that everyone can have fun when and where they want. »

A quick tour of the app

Kraze has a quite simple approach of its user experience.

Here’s the main flow that you can see above :

  1. After signing in, you’re asked about your favorite music genres. Just pick a few of them and allow app’s access to geolocation…
  2. … and then the city is yours 😉 The map points out music events happening in Paris today. You can swipe dates if you want.
  3. Each type of event (before, festival, after party…) has its color. Click on a dot to get more details about the event.
  4. A description of the event, a link to online ticket purchase and even a smart « How to get there » plugin help you making the right decision. Process it by saying that you will « Attend » the event.

☝🏻What did you want to bring with this second version Bastien ?

« We wanted to simplify the experience of browsing events. We have 200 of them every week ; this version should help users find their event more quickly.« 

1 app, 2 usecases

Remember our Friday night emergency « What do we do next, tonight? ». Well, this is the first use case that Kraze addresses. And there’s a second one that pops out very quickly: « What can we plan for next weekend? ». Indeed, some of Kraze users might prefer thinking about their weekend in advance. They like it slow and mindful. They like grooming event pages for hours to be sure that they’ll chose the best party of the weekend.
In both cases, still, the goal is to make a decision. The user goes from a list of possible options, evaluates them, compares them and eventually commit to one of them.

So let’s try to analyze the decision process of the two usecases.

Kraze app : 2 usecases

Here’s a suggestion of decision process breakdowns. It goes in 3 steps for the first usecase, and in 5 steps for second usecase.

What do we do next, tonight?

#1 – Timing and geolocation constraints

The number of event options is not so high in the beginning, because we’re only interested into coming-soon events, in a certain location. And since timing and geolocation constraints have strong power in this usecase, what you need more than ever is a clear and minimalist interface that points out easily the few events that might interest you. Meaning reachable events, starting soon and in a genre that you love.
You don’t want to be disturbed by any events happening next week, tomorrow, or in the opposite suburb of where you are…

🤔What does Kraze bring at this step?

Kraze app: map overview
  • ❤️A one-of-a-kind event map, bang at the opening of the app. The color code is helpful and fun to use ;
  • ✅If you prefer the list view, they have it as well ;
  • ✅A relevant and comprehensive suggestion of events when you’re into EDM. I’ve compared Kraze to Resident Advisor or other local event apps on the same day: Kraze has proven being more comprehensive several times.
  • ✅A focused minimalist UI.
  • ❓Could be even more focused. The date picker might be optional here. The time to get there could be pre-loaded and displayed. And the map actually displays all music genres ; even though I’ve given some favorite genres in the on-boarding phase of the app.

#2 – Filter, compare and choose

To reduce again the number of possible choices, users should have easy access to relevant filters.
Then, good synthesized information about the events will help them finding the one that they love. Short pre-listening widgets of DJ sets could be very useful for example.
Final choice could eventually be triggered by some live information about the venue, or the artists. « DJ Blabla has just began her set, join us!« 

Kraze app: 1st usecase, second phase : filter compare and chose

🤔What does Kraze bring at this step?

Kraze app: how to get there integrations
  • ❤️For each event, a one-click « How-to-get-there » Google Directions API integration (see screenshot on the left). Pretty smart and useful in this usecase.
  • ✅The list of genres that user can enjoy is relevant. They are actually EDM sub-genres that, I think, have the good granularity.
  • ✅Kraze also reaches the industry standard of showing other participants on the same event. We’ll come back on the social potential of this feature. Little tip: the size of the dots on the map vary according to the number of attendees. Cool right?
  • ❓Filtering was not so clear to me. I was confused in the identification of what was a filter, what was my personal preferences and what results they would affect.
  • ❓For now, live information has been set aside.
  • ❓What’s missing could be the synthesized music related content. DJ sets previews, links to Spotify or Soundcloud pages… It could really help partygoers taking a decision.

#3 – Commitment

Now that the event is chosen, the user is only a few steps away from getting there once and for all. What could you use now? First, you might need to purchase a ticket, if possible. This should be very easy to find. Then, maybe share to friends that might join you later. And eventually, a geolocated direction would be, again, very helpful.

🤔What does Kraze bring at this step?

  • ✅It is convenient to have a stable permanent button to online ticket purchase. Instead of having to dig a hidden link in the description.
  • Sharing features are also within easy reach.
  • ❓For now, online purchase goes through an external link. Some competitors host the payment directly in-app. Even though it could be considered as a non-prior evolution, let’s just say that it would simplify the final experience. Letting the user on a consistent and reassuring flow.
Kraze app helps you if you wonder what party you could go to tonight.

What can we plan for next weekend?

This use case is more complex. When they plan for next weekend, the users have time. So they can put more effort into their research. They can leave it and come back to it later. They can make a shortlist and groom their saved events day after day, as an entertainment.

Kraze app: sceond usecase : what can we plan for next weekend.

#1 – Narrow down possible options

Initial start is quite wide, since planification could cover several days of events. When you live in a big city, a summer Saturday can offer up to 30 options, with open-airs, before parties, warehouses and classic nightclub DJ sets. In this context, smart recommendations according to user’s profile could be great to reduce the initial scope. It implies a fine understanding of what the user likes or dislikes. The data work behind that can prove quite complex, though essential, if the app is to memorize users’ activity and preferences.

🤔What does Kraze bring at this step?

  • ❤️The « map + list + datepicker » combo works really well here. The user gets a relevant overview really easily.
  • ✅Search feature works well, both on events’ title and venues name.
  • ❓As in the first usecase, it’s hard to understand what impact has the favorite « genres » and the party types filters onto the map or list.

#2 – Shortlist my favorite events

Here’s a very specific part of this extended decision process: the user has time to save their favorite picks into a shortlist.
First, in its basic sense, this shortlist just pulls together the events you would like to attend in one single view.
We’ll come back on another opportunities around this shortlist just after.

🤔What does Kraze bring at this step?

  • ✅A fine overview of the events that you « Attend ».
Kraze app: shortlist of events

#3 – Explore similar events

And here comes one other very solid step to be addressed within the decision process: the suggestions based on what you’ve already shortlisted.
For Netflix generation, exploring « similar content » has become a basic gesture.
« If you like this event, you might like that one ». This way, the user widens their opportunities once again. But only with events that should be more relevant.
In this context, each event has a set of attributes: the music genre, the venue, the time frame, the artists or even labels, etc. And what is key here, is to chose wisely the attributes that the algorithm takes into account to make good suggestions.

Kraze app: second usecase, third phase : explore similar events.

🤔What does Kraze bring at this step?

For now, the recommendation part is not implemented in Kraze. It requires a solid and rich data set. And getting this data set ready requires a high pace of content management and tagging. Pretty hard mission for a 2 years old startup, all on its own. So it is highly possible that they work on industrialization of this process without having to do it manually on their own…

#4 – Help me making the best decision

My favorite part!
The users planning something for the weekend come back on this decision process several times in the week. It’s not a one shot.
So this is when our « Shortlist » feature comes back again with an another purpose. Today, « saving » something or saying you’re « interested » (poke Facebook) is like subscribing to an activity feed. So actually, what the user half-thoughtfully expects by doing this, is to be further updated or reminded by their shortlist of events.

Facebook interested into an event

But when and for what should the user be updated?
Here’s a suggestion of classification:

  • Very important information: the venue changes ; an artist cannot perform ; a new artist is booked ; early bird ticket sale is about to end = push notification + email.
  • Other substantial information: a friend attends the event ; hosts post some pictures of the place ; artists post something about their live set = in-app notification + activity feed.

Time is on user’s side to refine their shortlist mindfully. They can dig into music related content, compare DJs, read some comments about the venue or even ask for details to organisation, etc. Thanks to the information they are fed with, they reduce the shortlist little by little.

🤔What does Kraze bring at this step?

Kraze has not yet worked on personalized activity feed.

#5 – Final commitment

To take the final decision, users need to share some links with their friends. They also need to purchase tickets online and to put the event in their agenda. They do any extra gestures that could help them being on top on D-day.

🤔What does Kraze bring at this step?

  • ❤️An exclusive feature can seduce users here: Kraze offers some little contests in partnership with some hosts. Directly in-app, the users can participate and win tickets for free. This is a good engagement feature for someone planning their weekend.
  • ✅Kraze offer a « share event » integration. It triggers native OS sharing options (messenger, whatsapp, email…).
  • ✅You can add the event to your calendar.
  • ✅Link to online ticket purchase is, again, within easy reach.
  • ✅How to get there integration is also again very useful to prepare your journey.

For what usecase is Kraze tailored?

I find the second one very interesting, but also rather difficult to address. It requires a very fine and mature understanding of what tools or information users need, and at what moment. Thus, it also means a higher number a features. And more complex ones.
Irrigating an activity feed with artist’s or venue’s content is a challenge!

But on the other hand, is it worth for Kraze to settle only on the first usecase? Emergency is also interesting to address and requires expertise. But how can you monetize or build a strong community with an app that people use only 5 minutes per week? Hard mission, I think…

☝🏻Bastien, to understand Kraze’s positioning, could you tell a bit about your community? Who they are, and how you’d like it to grow?

« Today we have around 5000 monthly active users (out of 20k). They come from the inner city and are mostly between 18-23. It’s not so much, but it’s only in Paris and we think that we are still in an experimental phase. We are on our way to deliver THE solution that will revamp and boost access to parties.
In the future, we’d be happy to see more occasional partygoers on our app, older ones, who’d use Kraze bang at the moment they need it
« 

A place to seize on the nightlife app market?

Without giving too much details, I’ve compared Kraze to some of their competitors to maybe guess what place could it seize on this nightlife app market:

Selected competitors for competition analysis : Kraze, Resident Advisor, Facebook, ClubGo, Xceed, OhSchonHell, ParisBouge, Fever
  • Resident Advisor: famous historical electronic music content company, that delivers an app focused on underground music events.
  • Facebook: the social network has improved its event suggestions during the past years. How does it rank today?
  • ClubGo: Indian app, positioned on the same night industry.
  • Xceed: also good competitor from Barcelona.
  • OhSchonHell: one of the German competitors that expanded from the web, to the app world.
  • ParisBouge & Fever: I found interesting to go through those general event recommandation apps in Paris. They have the same native audience, but they’re not positioned on the same exclusive music industry. What’s interesting here is the user experience.
Competition mapping on the the usecases.

From where I stand, and when analyzing both usecases for each app, it seems that Kraze holds a great place already, amongst competition.

Traditional and historical app, Resident Advisor, hasn’t evolved so much these last year and suffers a lack of modern and important features. Geolocation, for example, should be a start on every nightlife app today. Still, they have amazing content and good event coverage that help people get good details about events if they need to.

Facebook has a strong set of features. Especially, they know how to entertain a user that has declared being interested by a couple of events.
But the whole thing lacks focus. You cannot feel any community approach where electronic music gathers everyone.

My surprise was Xceed. They have a large set of features. And have started implementing data-related features, in order to personalize the experience according to preferred artists or venues. Their go-to-market strategy is not so clear, but on their website, you can spot this pro interface that seem already quite advanced. So we can guess that hosts already contribute a lot to delivering detailed content to the community. And this way enrich the available data set.

Xceed backoffice for hosts

☝🏻What’s your biggest business challenge today Bastien?

« We must seduce event hosts on our plateform. They’re key to future monetization and community expansion. If this works in Paris, we’d love to expand to other european electronic music capitals : London, Berlin, Amsterdam/Rotterdam, Barcelona…« 

Kraze back office for event hosts

On the users’ side, extending the set of features to get a strong positioning on one of these usecase could be great.
And for the business part, it seems obvious that the extension of the community and product has to go through a professional plateform that delivers good value to event hosts.

These are big and exciting challenges, we can wish them a lot of success and show them great support for the coming versions! 🤙🏼

Bastien et Thung, cofounders of Kraze


What do you think? Rate this article from ❶ to ❺ 😉
(polls)

🎧 Spotify Stations: on top of hands-off music listening

Spotify released its Stations app not so long ago, in ßeta in the US. Here’s a complete review of this very interesting project, before it comes down on our devices!

Full app review of Spotify Stations

Spotify released its Stations app not so long ago, in ßeta in the US. Here’s a complete review of this very interesting project, before it comes down on our devices!

Let’s say it once before examining the whole thing: Stations is a smart, modern and audacious project. Here are the main take aways

  • #TheApp : « Stations » is an independent Spotify app. It focuses on a feature that already exists on Spotify: the stations. When you play a station, the music basically never stops, because a track starts just when the other stops.
    You can have several different stations, for each genre or artist that you like. And each station’s queue of tracks is composed by the app, following your preferences.
  • #UX – Spotify Stations only contains… stations. That’s all. No podcasts, no playlists, no events, no artists or song search. Only stations. As such, the user experience is incredibly powerful while being very simple. In terms of features, the app « only » replaces a classic set of FM stations, but here, these Stations are powered by Spotify’s famous recommendation algorithm. Very audacious bet and proof of confidence of the company in its number one appreciated asset.  
  • #UI – The interface smartly delivers this experience. Turning on the app for the first time is enough to access a station without a single click. Then, the user has barely 4 or 5 moves to make to enrich their stations. No more. And native interface components are modern and very intuitive.
  • #Algorithm – The algorithm training of a station relies on adding artists into it and on liking tracks while they’re played. Sure, it’s satisfying. But in the use it is probably not pushed at its maximum since the app doesn’t cover on its front the complete set of links between artists/tracks/albums/events/playlists/etc. that the original Spotify app contains. Especially, the playlist concept has been completely wiped.
  • #Positioning – There was a place to take on the easy music-listening. So with this app, all of us who need – always or sometimes – to just let it play while we do something else, we will be satisfied. More precisely, « who exactly does Stations target? » I don’t know, but I would be so curious to see the analytics few weeks after the public release and try to draw core personae out of it…
  • #Deepness – Details around a track have been blown away too. Click on a track that’s playing: nothing will happen. You will access no related album, nor artist page or related stations. Experience is really about a « hands-off » mode. Launch the app, it will play the music that you like, that’s all you need to know. Some of us, passionated listeners that are interested into the content that surrounds a track, might be a bit frustrated.

A personal opinion? I spent a few hours letting it play and enriching stations… It’s incredibly powerful and accurate – as expected. And content around stations, if some is meant to be produced/curated/featured, could be key to further success. Let’s dig into it and try to understand Spotify’s project in a wider stand. 

Are you a Spotify user?
(polls)

On-boarding

Next screenshots will be in english 😉 I couldn't retrieve these screens in english...

After first login – with classic credentials or Facebook connect-, you get to this nice three-screens slider. Short and quite usual.
Maybe you recognize the Circular font (Arial family) of Spotify?
There’s some new stuff: Spotify used to on-board their users with another atmosphere, especially with lifestyle pictures in background (see here). This new iconography and flat unified colors in the background might be a first shot for the ßeta version, but I like it this way. It’s rather punchy.
And it actually paves the way for the awe-inspiring simple UI of the rest of the app.

Wooops what happened to second slider's subtitle? Looks like they forgot to center it...

To finish the on-boarding, a little guidance is available in-app, if needed. And that’s it. You’re all set.

I find a bit old-school the « Back » and « Next » text links in bottom corners. Arrows would probably have been enough (see Instagram stories on-boarding).

Single-screen app

« So let’s start with the menu. Wait… Where is it? Where’s the menu? »
No menu my friend. Stations app only has one screen for the main layer. From here, you can only get down in the app, nothing to see on the sides! It’s already a huge gap of simplification compared to the classic Spotify app, that displays a four-pages bottom menu.

The main body of this .gif shows the top-down slide that switches playlists. A very intuitive choice of display and touch for this action. Hence, stations switching is supposed to be the major daily move made by users. Might be, yes. We’ll come back to this question later on.

When the user glances at the top bar, looking for the menu, they integrate that only one action will actually ever be available.

The top bar stages only one main action: « + Add station« . Very interesting choice. In fact, we better know top bars dedicated to title, search and even more frequently, to menu access. So when the user glances at it, they mentally replace the « Looking for other options » expectation with the « There’s only one option » reality.

Still on top bar, we find an easy-to-reach device controller, plus the settings. Again, I think it’s a lucid choice not to have merged them. My guess is that over the last years, smart home devices (Google Home, Alexa,…), connected speakers and wireless headphones/ear pods have proven their daily weight into music listening. Analytic review of this already-existing feature on classic Spotify must have guided this choice.

It’s already playing

Open Stations, it starts playing. Even on first on-boarding.
« But you had no pre-configured stations, had you ? ». In fact, Spotify groomed my favorite artists and my top songs and built a first batch of 4 Stations out of it. Remember 2018 wrapped content? This superbe retention campaign was ment to higher purpose than just engage their users in few clicks on January 2019…
In other words, if you already have a Spotify account with a bit of listening with it, you CAN NOT DISLIKE the first track that Stations plays. You’ve heard it, liked it, shared it, playlisted it so many times that it has to be a match with your expectations, had you any.

I must admit that I found it disappointing not to find any stations based on my dear Spotify Playlists. I mean, they’re juste like pre-built stations, aren’t they? « Maybe I’ll get them later… » I thought.

Enriching a station

Let’s come back on our UX journey.

Since we already have a few stations, it might be interesting to work on one of them.
You can enrich a station with two actions that will train the recommandation algorithm:

  1. Like or dislike the tracks that play
  2. Add artists to the « root » of the station (see .gif)

Artist search is pretty simple, starts with only 1 character, and artists pictures are helpful.

What’s interesting comes next: once you’ve added an artist, other ones related pop immediatelysmartly inserted in-between the one you’ve just added and the last artist you had added before.
Notice that within this discovery phase, it’s the first time that the user sees the recommandation algorithm in action. Everything before was just blind confidence into pre-built stations.
It’s like taking a breath with a behavior that we finally know, after all this newness.

A little down, to me, is this double « save » click that’s needed to complete the update of the station. I missed it once or twice.

Unless you try the app, you will have to trust me on this one: I think that 1 extra gesture is missing.
When I am listening to a station, it can happen that a song that I like pops up. But it actually would fit ANOTHER station – or several others. So I don’t wan’t to dislike the music, because I like it. But I don’t want to like either, because I don’t want the algorithm to integrate that it was a good choice to put this song into this specific station.
In that case, it might be useful to drag and drop the music played into the playlists that I aim.

Creating a station

Back to our « + Add station » button.
A click will take you to a two-tabs screen that will let you start your station with either « Artists », either « Genres & Moods » (see screenshots below).
For each genre/mood, you get sub-genres stations.

First thing about this artist recommendation: I really don’t like Damso‘s music. Nor Maitre Gims‘. I mean, that’s even possible that I disliked them in classic Spotify already.
So let’s cut this review right away, this app totally suc…
No wait. It’s actually interesting. Remember the point about playlist-based stations? Well they’re still missing here.
Why can’t I just turn on a station that’s based on a playlist that I’ve put so much effort into? If I could do so, I might not have to deal with artists that I don’t like.
It’s a real down to me here since I’ve spent literally hours on building them. Naming them. Picturing them. Spotify even had me creating folders, and subfolders of playlists…
Playlists are like babies to Spotify users. And now Stations wants us to forget about them? Tough.

Work, commute, drive = Stations

With an objective Product Management stand, I must say that this app is a remarkable shot towards all people used to listen to music when they work, commute, drive, ride, read, play,… it’s obvious that a big market hole was waiting for this to come. Well, actually Pandora was first on this field but I’m not sure they will last long against Stations. UX is still too complex, UI not as qualitative.

Soundcloud, Deezer, Apple Music… same thing. For sure, they all are great products. But not meant to deal a single feature.

  • Soundcloud doesn’t even suggest a default station that you would be keen to listen. And when you launch one, they prove being quite light on the recommendation part, since they invite you to modify the queue. So it becomes a self-made temporary playlist, not a station.
  • Deezer Flow and Apple Music have way more complex UIs than Stations with a lot of deepness and relations between objects. It’s great but it looses someone that just wants to launch a station right now, and then forget about the app while music continues.

Odds are great for previous generations too. We know that our parents were used to their set of 6 FM stations, but over the last decade, they might have neglected it – except in the car, for sure – because of other more powerful medias. If firsts releases’ data prove it, marketing & communication could hard-push on the 40-50 years old. They don’t have any relevant substitues to their FM stations yet.

Music is dead, long lives Music?

Now, in a more personal stand, I think I am too interested into the music that’s playing to be a core Stations’ user.

On Stations, click on an artist? Nothing happens. Click on a track? Still nothing. Looking for a song? You won’t find any. Want to check if this band released something lately? Trust the algorithm, it may bring it to you one day – or not.
So first, about internal objects’ linking: I am very frustrated to know that I will never get deeper (or sides) than the station level.

Second point, and more important to me, is about all the content that makes the music a living art.

Let’s talk a bit about what could have been added to Stations, so that profound music lovers become core users.

1. Easy integrations 📲

  • Spotify partnered with Genius and their lyrics database: Stations and Genius would be plugged. And stations would show the lyrics to those who want to sing or to learn what’s the music about.
  • Spotify launched Line-in in 2018, so that users can suggest edition on music metadata (release dates, genres,…): Stations and Line-in would be plugged too. And superpowers would be given to those who prove being educated/passionated/experienced users and contributors.

2. Share & collaborate 🤝

Again, easy stuff for Spotify, they already have every thing:

  • Sharing a playlist on classic Spotify is a very common action. Why not replicate it in Stations?
    Instead of URL link or emmebed, which exist today, sharing could be triggered from the app, and appear as push notif, or in-app notification on another device.
  • Exact same thing with multi-user collaboration on a playlist. Spotify already has it. On Stations, users would also collaborate with their friends and family on a common Station.

3. Beloved content

  • Spotify recently acquired Parcast and Gimlet Media, which are two huuuuge Podcast producers/broadcasters. They know how to deliver extraordinary content in a mic. What if they took the place of presenters? We would have so great stories about backstages, studios, events, talks about creativity or technique…
  • As « new generation FM presenters », these teams would also invite artists to perform live. For example, traditional Seattle KEXP 90.3 FM, and US NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts made there reputation out of it: they know how to push artists beyond their limits and create very emotional atmospheres (here are two examples 1, 2). Stations’ audio content would be sure also available in video format. To be broadcasted on website, social networks, personal channels…
  • Red Bull Academy (RBMA) has done a tremendous work on stimulating music industry. Without a single line of code. They curate lectures of artists, boost partnerships between labels, and broadcast high quality content. And they’re not even native of this industry. In a wider and very exciting version of Stations project, it would be so great to have Spotify fostering artists and communities around music.

All right I think that’s enough reviewing for today. I hope you liked it:)
It was a pleasure to me anyway.
Stay tuned for more or write me at tristan.bochu.pro@gmail.com if you feel like talking about this one or anything else 😉
By the way, here’s the song I had at Stations Opening:

Souls of Mischief – 93 ‘Til Infinity
What do you think? Rate this article from ❶ to ❺ 😉
(polls)