The digiterati talk a great deal about the empowerment of users and there are some great books on the topic, not least Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘The Thank You Economy’ which convincingly show how brands and service providers ignore their users at their peril. The maths he cites is simple – how many hundreds of Facebook ‘Likes’ or favourable tweets do you need to outweigh one stinging and critical tweet or Facebook update?
If you take the challenge of user empowerment to its logical conclusion, you’re left with the ultimate question “who should define what a business does: its users or the people who own and run it?”. At Psonar, being British, we think the answer should be a compromise – users need to feel listened to and valued but they expect the team running a business to surprise and delight them by visionary innovation translating into great products and sheer hard work translating in excellent service. It’s impossible for the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ to initiate and sustain a product development process to produce something like the iPod, iPhone or iPad, but it’s the crowd that determines, in the end, whether those developments are a success. Even Apple, led by the visionary Steve Jobs who claimed not to use market research (“it isn’t the consumer’s job to know what they want.”), makes intelligent use of consumer surveys to identify what people want.
We’ve started the part-democratization of Psonar with a series of presentations to each of the year groups at Impington Village College – an 11 to 19 1,400 student comprehensive (i.e. not selective on the basis of ability) with a strong international focus (including the Impington International 6th Form one of the pioneers among UK schools in offering the International Baccalaureate). We’re looking for them to confirm our belief that there is room for a ‘pay as you go’ on-demand streaming music service (‘on-demand’ meaning the user can choose each song they play, unlike a seeded internet radio such as Pandora in the US or We7 in the UK). We’d also like them to help us make sure that the Psonar iPhone app (updated version released at the beginning of this month) and Android app (due for release at the end of this year) really do what our target market – people 12-25 in the G20 countries – want.
We’re planning a series of consumer panels with a cross-section of Impington students as well as a more comprehensive on-line survey to gauge their reaction and capture their thoughts about improvements.
Psonar is delighted to be be partnered with the B-Side Project. B-Side has pioneered a series of annual events across the UK which showcase collaborations between emerging artists and dance music producers to create exciting new remixes. B-Side have also partnered with Atom Live in their Access to Music project offering music industry training to students up and down the UK and we’d like to enlist their help also in the part-democratization of Psonar.