By: Ryan Counihan
On a Thursday night in my town of North Wales, Pennsylvania I was at my local bar called the Village Tavern. I try my best to make it to the bar most Thursday nights, not for the food, drinks, and friendly community, but for open mic night. Every Thursday at this small local establishment there is a gathering of musicians and fans of music alike. Some weeks the crowds are much larger, but most of the time there are only a few people who actually make it out to hear the extremely talented local artists. As I sit at the corner of the bar next to the PA system, the wonderfully talented John Valerio, who is a regular at open mic nights, serenades me with his guitar work. While John plays an incredible set the very talented local saxophonist Scott joins him. The two weave together intricate and beautiful melodies that could easily be compared to some of the best live acts out there nowadays. And all of this is taking place in a small tavern only minutes from my house in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. As I sit at the end of the bar I begin to look around at the small crowd of people who have gathered. I begin to notice that not that many people are actually focusing on the music. Rather, they are engulfed in the screens of their smart phones and the televisions that are littered around the bar. As a musician this type of thing concerns me greatly. The more I look around I start to realize that a few others and myself are the only ones in the tavern who seem to be there for the music. And I think to myself, why is this? What can be done to bring in a larger crowd, specifically a crowd who is there to hear great live music? How can these local musicians get the recognition they deserve? I wondered how many other places in the suburbs have live music, and how many other live acts are also going under the radar? After my night at the open mic night, I got the idea for a phone application that would help local musicians in the suburbs get the attention they deserve at their shows.
The application I designed is called the Live Local Music Finder. This app allows for fans of live local music specifically in the suburban areas of Philadelphia to find shows almost any night of the week. This app can be used by local musicians to market themselves better then say MySpace, or Facebook, and will help them draw larger crowds to see their shows. The application will also help local venues, bars, or restaurants where these musicians play because the bigger the crowd, the larger the revenue for both musicians and establishments alike. This application has the ability to strengthen social interaction and the way people connect as well. According to Lee Humphreys, “Much of public sociality through mobile social networks is about connecting with others. Connecting here means the managing one’s social distance with others. Most often communication through these systems is meant to build, strengthen, and maintain social connections” (Humphreys, 502). The more people who use this application the more relevant it will be! The community of music lovers, and musicians alike in the suburbs will come together to share in the fun at more live local shows. And the thing that will be connecting everyone will be the music!
To begin, this application can be used by anyone, but is geared more towards people who enjoy going out to see live music events or for people who play in a band. In the application one can look up local shows happening around the suburban areas of Philadelphia. These shows can be at actual concert venues, or halls, they can be at a bar, or restaurant, they can even be at someone’s house, or apartment. The application uses a GPS and shows you a map of your surrounding area. On the map are little guitar icons. These little guitar icons represent shows at that specific location on that day. These icons will change everyday depending on where shows are located. You can tap the guitar icon and the app brings you to another screen. On this screen you will see what bands or artists are playing the show, what the venue is called/location of the show, what time the event is being held, there will be a link to the band or artist’s website where you can listen to some of their music (if they have posted music to their webpage), there is an option to view other information (if the band/artist added anything that would be good to know about the event), and you will have the option whether or not you would like directions to the venue. If you tap the screen on “get directions”, you will be taken to another screen that has mapped out the directions to the venue through the use of GPS. The GPS is extremely important and beneficial for the Live Local Music Finder. According to Alison Gazzard, “Mobile phone technologies have evolved, allowing for the integration of global positioning systems (GPS). The inclusion of GPS in ‘smart phones’ such as the iPhone now allows users to view the spaces they are moving through in new ways “ (Gazzard, 405). I thought it would be ridiculous not to have a GPS included in this application because the app itself literally is remapping places according to whether or not there is live music being played in certain locations. It’s a different way of viewing your suburban area because you are viewing it in regards to what live music is being played around the area and where the venues that hold these live music events are located.
Now, if you were to go back to the opening page, with the map and little guitar icons, you would be able to slide over to the second page of the application by simply swiping your finger on the screen to the left. The second page of the application has a list of ‘venues’ you have already been to while using the application. On this page you can rate and review the venues you have already been to, you can read reviews made by other Live Local Music Finder users, you can look up more information regarding the venues such as future shows, phone numbers, etc. You can also find directions to the venues you have already been to by tapping on the name of the venue, which would bring you to the directions screen again.
From the second page of the application you can swipe the screen to the left again and arrive at the third page of the application. This third page includes a list of local bands and artists that you have already seen. You can rate them on a 5 star scale, and by tapping on their name you can receive a little more information about them, and a link to their website, if they have one. This page is just to keep track of whom you have seen so you know whether or not you would like to see them again. The reviews for this page are all personal; you cannot see what other users have said about the bands. This is to ensure that no one trashes a band because they “don’t like that genre of music” or because “they sound bad”. There are many reasons why a person may dislike a band or artist, but one must keep in mind, sometimes a band may just have an off night, sometimes what one person hates about a band or act another person loves. As a musician I believe it should be up to the individual to decide if he or she likes a band, whatever their reasons may be, they should decide for themselves without the influence of others. Nowadays so many people follow the crowd, especially in regards to social media, and miss out on many things they might actually enjoy. The Live Local Music Finder allows each individual to make his or her own judgments when it comes to the live acts they see. And if you love an act you will be able to give them a good review for you own reference, and the same goes for if you dislike a band or artist. There are ways around seeing a ‘bad’ band because like I mentioned earlier their will be a link to the band or artist’s website where most bands put up some of their material. But the downside is that not all bands put up their music on their website, so that is a potential problem with the application, but hopefully by people using this application, a band or artist will be encouraged to post some music or even video to their website for users to see, especially if they want to get people to come to their shows.
Once more, from the third page you can swipe to the left and find the fourth and final page of the application. The fourth page of this application is for creating events. Lets say a band or artist has a show in the upcoming week, there is a list of information to fill out in order for it to be posted to the Live Local Music Finder app. The list includes Band/Artist, Location/Venue, Time of Event, Website/Link, and a section for other information. The band/artist spot is specifically for the name of the act, or acts that will be playing the show. The location selection is where you would fill out the information for where the show is taking place. The website/link spot is where a band or artist can post their website or a link to their music online. And the other information space is for whatever else a person may need to know about the upcoming show, whether or not it’s 21+ to get in or whether the show is at someone’s house or in someone’s basement. Once all the information is filled out there is a complete box at the bottom of the page, tap the screen on the complete box and voila! You have created an event!
In cities it is easy to find live music almost any night of the week, there is always something going on in the city during both the day and night, and mostly due the amount of people living in the area. In the suburbs it’s a different story. The nightlife in the suburbs is quite dull aside from a few restaurants and local bars that remain open past 12am. According to Patrick M. Jones, “Philadelphia has a lively art scene, its is a visual art center, home to many museums, and has a performing arts community that includes professional resident theater, dance, opera and ballet, several professional ensembles that range in repertoire from early music to the most recent compositions, and is home to the world famous Philadelphia Orchestra. Professional classical music ensembles present regular concert series and produce professional marketing materials” (Jones, 8). It is easy to see why the suburbs are ignored when it comes to entertainment and arts, especially when living in the shadow of Philadelphia. But sometimes it’s hard to make it into the city especially during weeknights. This is where the Live Local Music Finder will come in handy! There is so much talent that just goes under the radar in the suburbs. It’s truly a shame. A lot of these local artists play shows in Philadelphia once in a while, especially local artist John Valerio. But the majority of the time they are playing local shows near their homes. Very few people make it out to these local shows and when they do they don’t seem to be interested in the music. According to Jones, “Broadcast music plays a major role in the musical lives of communities. This music is available 24/7 to anyone with a radio. It thus crosses geographic and socio-economic boundaries instantaneously and more easily than live music performances” (Jones, 7). This explains why some people may not be interested in seeing someone perform his or her songs in front of a live audience. Many people would rather just hear what they know, then to delve into something new. Most people would rather listen to the radio when they are out for a drink with friends rather than hear someone perform his or her songs. But those who go to concert regularly know that music on a radio does not compare to seeing a band or artist live, the live performances is what it is all about. According to Chris Gibson and Shane Homan, “Residential developers have played upon the reputation of key suburbs as sites of creativity, lifestyle and “alternative subcultures” focused around main street consumption spaces. Yet, resultant property market rises have threatened the ability of artists, musicians and others employed in the cultural industries to secure affordable housing and spaces for performance” (Gibson & Homan, 72). This reason alone is why local music must be supported! Many local artists and musicians make a majority of their living on their art and music. If people do not attend their shows, they will not have money to support themselves, and local music scene then suffer and fade away.
What the Live Local Music Finder does is it allows musicians and actual fans of live local music to share information about local music events. The more people who use the app and discover new artists or bands that they like, the more shows they hopefully start to attend. The more shows they attend, the larger the crowds will become over time, especially if they start to bring friends and spread the word of the app. This app will market bands and artists directly to the people who are searching for local acts, and who generally care about local music scenes. If people use this app they could potentially revamp the whole local music scene in suburban areas. They could help support local artists at shows, as well as local establishments and venues. The more people who go out and become active in supporting local music the more the community as a whole will benefit. According to Ray Hudson, of the Department of Geography and Wolfson Research Institute, “There is no doubt that music –in both its production and consumption-can be an important influence in shaping the typically hybrid identities of people and places, of engendering a sense of place and deep attachment to place. In this sense it can help contribute in important ways to the well-being of people and places and this is not without practical significance” (Hudson, 633). It may be a far stretch to some but by supporting local artists and giving them the attention they deserve a lot of good can come from it, not just for the artists themselves, but also for the community as a whole.
Gazzard, A. Location, location, location: Collecting space and place in mobile media. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 405-417.
Homan, S., & Gibson, C. Urban Redevelopment, Live Music And Public Space. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 67-84.
Hudson, R. Regions And Place: Music, Identity And Place. Progress in Human Geography, 626-634.
Humphreys, L. Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 494-510.
Jones, P. Returning Music Education to the Mainstream: Reconnecting with the Community. , 1-19.