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

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

              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

                          Organizers

                          Jason Ulaszek

                          Jason Ulaszek

                          UX Director, Manifest Digital

                            Jeff Leitner

                            Jeff Leitner

                            Dean, Insight Labs

                              Provocateurs

                              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

                                          Scott Aiges

                                          Scott Aiges

                                          Director of Programs, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation

                                            Reid Wick

                                            Reid Wick

                                            Production Manager, The Recording Academy

                                              Sponsors

                                              Manifest Digital
                                              Draftfcb
                                              Peter Mayer
                                              Axure
                                              Aesthetic Apparatus
                                              Basin Street Records