Beyond Oblivion (Boinc) Music Service
The revolutionary music service that almost was
The Revolutionary Music Startup that Almost Was.
You may not have heard of it, but in 2010 Beyond Oblivion was primed to be a real contender to the music service heavyweight title. With over 600M in capital and Rupert Murdoch on its board, the CEO was orchestrating many moving pieces to create a music ecosystem intended to launch with a big splash. The vision was broad and compelling. This music system would work on most of your devices, it would play the music you already owned (through musical thumbprint technology), and it would have a amazing world class user experience. To our CEO, the design and UX was of paramount importance.
Establishing a Visionary MVP
We had an aggressive schedule (launch within the year) and needed an MVP. The basics of the service included a music library, a social experience led by “gurus” for music recommendations, and a CEO-led vision of a molecule-based discovery system.
We worked on the multi-platform music service first.
Testing the Thesis
After assessing the existing designs, our team suggested alternative IA’s that would provide a stronger sense of music ownership to the user. To test these, we conducted a participatory design session where we showed existing designs and new concepts in qualitative interviews. This helped us gain insight into how target users listen to music, which helped our team prioritize features.
We identified 5 key problems to differentiate the service:
How we give users music ownership when they have over 10 million songs?
How do we provide a seamless music experience across multiple devices?
How do we help people find new music they like?
How do we encourage people to share songs and playlists?
How should people manage their music available offline?
Boinc Visual Style
The MVP player was a good first step, but the visual style did not fully address the CEO’s vision which was darker and more dystopian. With a growing internal team, we looked at alternate ways to incorporate this visual direction. At the same time, we expanded our platform to address TV interfaces.
The way forward
The final design, realizing the vision of a socially-driven music service.
So what happened?
The company closed abruptly in December 2011. We were weeks away from launching our MVP.
A much more modest vision of boinc did eventually reboot and launched in Venezuela in 2013, with our MVP design.