Oddly Specific Playlists – Contextual Essay

This post is part 5 of 8 in the series:
Oddly Specific Playlists

Oddly Specific Playlists is a project wherein I take anonymous confessions/requests and use them as inspiration to create curated Spotify playlists, which I then promote on the corresponding Instagram account.

I developed this project because I wanted to create an online space for music-lovers, provide users with emotional support or simple enjoyment, and potentially promote lesser-known artists, as well as myself, (supporting a goal of mine to eventually get into music journalism).

I thought this project would be useful for users, as for many, the pandemic has caused a precarious situation in terms of mental health. Music is a common interest that many people can bond over, even in times where we are missing the feeling of community found in a concert crowd. Furthermore, music is extensively proven to help manage anxiety and depression, providing users with an outlet or means for enjoyment. Encouraging users to submit anonymous confessions (inspired primarily by The Unsent Project & The Anonymous Project) for this project is an added layer of making space for people to get thoughts and feelings off their chest or just have fun being creative.

Twitter: BCM114 2 kids of people

I initially had planned to create short animations inspired by songs by lesser-known artists. There was only one problem. I have NO experience with animation. I tried to learn it for about two weeks at the beginning of the semester and quickly found myself discouraged. While it was something I really would like to learn in the future, it was not time-manageable and thus caused a major lapse in motivation. That idea did not abide by #FIST principles – however, it was my first opportunity to experience and deal with #FEFO.

I quickly accepted this as a failure and went on to spend some time ideating new ideas, all of which I posted to Twitter to see which idea would have the most interest from my peers. (as you can see in the thread below)

Twitter: BCM114 thread ideas

As you can see above, most people seemed to prefer my podcast idea – in fact, someone specifically warned me against doing a DA that relied on user interaction. But I decided to go with my gut, and my gut said to do the one that I know I’d like the most. It was a risk that I took assuming that other people would be interested, but as soon as I got started, there was an overwhelming amount of supportive feedback. This taught me that my DA could serve a social utility.

Another important learning moment I had occurred following the week 4 lecture, “Observing”, I recognised that my DA majoritively intended to serve a social utility centralised around the users. Therefore I needed to be extra aware of my user’s needs, wants and preferences. And because this social utility was quite emotional in nature, I decided to rely on qualitative feedback (comments, replies, messages) far more than qualitative measures such as likes and follows as a signal of success or failure. This meant that I had to become very comfortable regularly inviting users to give feedback, asking questions and making rapid changes in response. This aspect of my DA quickly became the most important, time-consuming and rewarding part.

Twitter: BCM114 Breaking it Down

As you can see above, requesting and receiving feedback is an integral block in the functioning of my DA.