Field Research Report

By: Ryan Counihan

For my field research I went to a local restaurant and bar right behind my house called the Village Tavern. It is located in North Wales, Pennsylvania on Stump road. It is a fairly large restaurant with both indoor and outdoor dining (outdoor seating is closed) with two separate bar areas inside, and one bar area outside (also closed). As soon as you walk into the building the walls are filled with advertisements for different beers and liquors, as well as advertisements for events ran by the Village Tavern. Their most recent event was a St. Patty’s run, which helped raise money for cancer. They called it the Shock Run. The Village Tavern has free wifi, and strongly encourages their patrons to add them on Facebook and Twitter. They are constantly updating and adding information about upcoming events and upcoming drink and dinner specials on both Facebook and Twitter.

The restaurant is filled with mostly older people. I would say from the looks of it that most people were between the ages 30-50. A few older couples I recognize from my neighborhood. There are a few younger people in the bar area, probably close to my age, but they are separated from the older crowd and at a table of their own. There are more men than women at the bar, but not by much. I can’t get an exact number, but just by looking around you can tell the bar is geared more towards the middle-aged male crowd. There are 3 males that look as though they just got out of work sitting at the bar. They are wearing suit and ties and seem to be discussing work related issues while occasionally glancing at the television that has the USA male hockey Paralympics game on. They are wearing suit and ties and seem to be discussing work related issues. There is a young couple also sitting at the bar, they are dressed very casually, and are ordering food together. As the couple talks they both have their phones in hand. There is a group of 4 older gentlemen who are the most rowdy in the building, they are very loud when talking to one another, they seem to be very good friends. Behind the 4 gentlemen are 4 women seated at a table. I believe they are the spouses of the 4 rowdy gentlemen at the bar. They are also conversing over beer and wine. There are 2 younger girls sitting at the side bar, one girl is trying to get the attention of the bartender, while the other girl is on her cell phone, and appears to be texting someone. There are also 2 guys that appear to be at the bar alone. On is sitting silently with a beer while he is perusing his phone, and they other’s face is glued to the television watching the Sportscenter highlights and occasionally glancing at the USA Paralympics hockey game on a television right next to the television with Sportscenter on. There are about 15 televisions that I see in both of the bar areas inside the building. All are on and most of the screens feature the same 4 television stations. There is a baseball game, a hockey game, the Paralympics hockey game, and Sportscenter on the different screens. The side bar seems to be the place to sit and watch the sports events on television, while the main bar is where more people seem to be in conversation with one another.

The most common mobile media form is cell phones being used for either texting or searching the web. People are also glued to the sporting events on television. People watching the sporting events would sometimes converse with a stranger (or at least I think they are strangers to one another) about the game they were watching. I saw an older man converse with a younger man sitting next to each other at the bar about the hockey game that was on. It seems that the mobile media forms being used would for the most part hinder casual conversations between strangers, but then again on a few occasions I noticed people using the media forms, especially the television as a starting point to a conversation, most very short and brief though. A little later on in the night a local musician started to play an acoustic set in the building which captivated many individuals in the main bar area. The local musician plays weekly in the bar, and many people know who he is, and genuinely enjoy his music. As the musician continued his set the bar began to get more and more crowded, more and more people were gathering around the bar and finding a seat to hear the gentlemen play guitar. On a few songs people actually began to sing along with him, which is always fun in my opinion. He covered Lorde- Royals, which a bunch of younger people sang along with him. It is always cool seeing music bring people together. A little later on a few women (maybe in their 30s?) got up and started to dance along to the gentleman playing guitar. The App I am designing is an app for live music performances in local suburban areas. Music brings people together and allows for great live entertainment. But in my area of North Wales there is never a large crowd that goes to see local acts. The app I am designing will allow local musicians to market themselves better and to be able to draw a much larger crowd to see their shows. This will also help local restaurants and bars where these musicians will play because the bigger the crowd the larger the revenue for both musician and bar/restaurant alike.

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One thought on “Field Research Report”

  1. In writing up your project proposal, paper, and in your final design, be sure to explain what is social justice about a local music marketing app. As framed right now, it’s just another marketing app and harkens back to MySpace or sites like BandCamp. What is different about your app and how does it engage with ideas about social justice.

    One thing that occurs to me in reading your research report, was the man playing a guitar seen as an interruption to the sporting evens everyone seemed to be watching earlier? If the bar already promotes social media use, is it using those platforms to promote the musicians that play there? Are there things performances spaces in suburban areas can do to promote live music, beyond what the bands themselves do? Are there ways to pull crowds out to the suburbs (as opposed to into the cities) to watch music? In all of these, are there ways the app can be more than just another communication tool for musicians out in the ‘burbs? What, finally, are reasons that might explain why people don’t come out to see these acts? If it’s awareness, then a marketing tool can address that. If there are larger systemic issues a branding app won’t necessarily address that (it also requires that people in those areas use or have some connection to those apps for it to work…). There’s a lot of potential here, and some research on public spaces outside of urban centers might help you think through some of the theoretical issues you might need to grapple with.

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