Challenge

The good news: In 2012, the music economy in New Orleans was booming. More than 9 million people visited the city, spending $6 billion. More than 76% of visitors were in town on vacation. Compared to the year before, spending in bars and nightclubs jumped 10.4% and spending on entertainment increased 9%. Musicians played nearly 30,000 gigs. The bad news: In 2012, professional musicians in New Orleans made an average of $17,800, with about 40% earning less than $10,000.

Designers spent two days and long nights immersed in the city’s music scene, interviewing musicians, managers, record label executives, festival organizers, club owners, radio station deejays, buskers, social service agency executives and city officials — some of whom were locals and others of whom were in town for New Orleans’ Jazz Fest or a conference of U.S. mayors.

So why weren’t musicians sharing in the spoils?

Solution

As with every problem in New Orleans, there were a lot of theories related to greed, corruption, racism and ineptness. But the designers pieced together two novel elements: most artists didn’t like to ask for money and most audience members didn’t think of giving it to them.

There were programs in New Orleans designed to teach musicians how to be better businesspeople, but they presumed musicians wanted to learn. Musicians, like most artists, pursued their craft in part to escape conventions, like negotiating contracts and managing accounts. Venue owners paid most musicians little to nothing, leaving musicians dependent on tips. But most musicians never asked for tips, only passively offering an open horn case or plastic tip jar for anybody moved to contribute.

Concurrently, audience members didn’t see it as their responsibility to support musicians. Unlike the time-honored practice of tipping waitstaff and bartenders, there was no cultural expectation to tip musicians — even in a city defined by music.

The designers’ answer was “Tip the Band,” a collection of tactics and tools to encourage and enable visitors to support musicians. One calculation found that just $5 from every vacationing tourist would increase the annual average income of New Orleans’ musicians by $10,000.

The key components of Tip the Band were a mobile app, which would allow an audience member to deposit a tip directly into a musician’s bank account and tell friends about it, and a civic campaign urging visitors to support the city’s musical talent. Designers also recommended an apprentice program for aspiring music managers and changes in social services for musicians.

The mobile app component of Tip the Band was launched under another name by a startup company. While more than a thousand dollars has been paid in tips to-date, the company is not yet successful. Another version of the mobile app is under development by a second company.

2013 Interaction Awards People's ChoiceIn January 2013, UX for Good was honored with the “People’s Choice Award” at the Interaction Design Association’s annual gathering.

 

Partners

Clinton Global Initiative
Insight Labs
MusiCares

The GRAMMY Foundation
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation

Designers

Mark Wills

Mark Wills

Interaction Designer, Hattery

    Brynn Evans

    Brynn Evans

    UX Designer, Google (Google+ Team)

      Brian Winters

      Brian Winters

      Associate UX Director, Manifest Digital

        Tanarra Schneider

        Tanarra Schneider

        Senior UX Architect, Manifest Digital

          Ryan Freitas

          Ryan Freitas

          Co-Founder, Sr. Director of Product, About.Me

            Mark Trammell

            Mark Trammell

            Senior Design Researcher, Twitter

              Jason Kunesh

              Jason Kunesh

              UX Director, Obama for America

                Bill DeRouchey

                Bill DeRouchey

                UX Consultant

                  Rob Chappell

                  Rob Chappell

                  SVP, Community and Marketing, Neighborland

                    Jodi Leo

                    Jodi Leo

                    UX Professor

                      Carolyn Chandler

                      Carolyn Chandler

                      UX Director, Manifest Digital

                        Lee-Sean Huang

                        Lee-Sean Huang

                        Design Strategist, Purpose

                          Organizers

                          Jason Ulaszek

                          Jason Ulaszek

                          UX Director, Manifest Digital

                            Jeff Leitner

                            Jeff Leitner

                            Dean, Insight Labs

                              Provocateurs

                              Scott Aiges

                              Scott Aiges

                              Director of Programs, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation

                                Reid Wick

                                Reid Wick

                                Production Manager, The Recording Academy

                                  John Kenny

                                  John Kenny

                                  EVP, Planning, Draftfcb Chicago

                                    Al Herbach

                                    Al Herbach

                                    Co-Founder, Strategiz

                                      Howell Malham

                                      Howell Malham

                                      Co-Founder, Insight Labs

                                        Katy Klassman

                                        Katy Klassman

                                        Founder, The Curated Group

                                          Susan Brecker

                                          Susan Brecker

                                          Philanthropic Filmmaker

                                            Andrew Benedict-Nelson

                                            Andrew Benedict-Nelson

                                            Director, Insight Labs

                                              Sponsors

                                              Manifest Digital
                                              Draftfcb
                                              Peter Mayer
                                              Axure
                                              Aesthetic Apparatus
                                              Basin Street Records