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

Jodi Leo

Jodi Leo

UX Professor

    Carolyn Chandler

    Carolyn Chandler

    UX Director, Manifest Digital

      Lee-Sean Huang

      Lee-Sean Huang

      Design Strategist, Purpose

        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

                          Organizers

                          Jason Ulaszek

                          Jason Ulaszek

                          UX Director, Manifest Digital

                            Jeff Leitner

                            Jeff Leitner

                            Dean, Insight Labs

                              Provocateurs

                              Katy Klassman

                              Katy Klassman

                              Founder, The Curated Group

                                Susan Brecker

                                Susan Brecker

                                Philanthropic Filmmaker

                                  Andrew Benedict-Nelson

                                  Andrew Benedict-Nelson

                                  Director, Insight Labs

                                    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

                                              Sponsors

                                              Manifest Digital
                                              Draftfcb
                                              Peter Mayer
                                              Axure
                                              Aesthetic Apparatus
                                              Basin Street Records