Why this Quincy Jones Educational Startup is Bigger than its Gamification and Social Media Parts
Frequent the TopCoder Blog? You may notice we have an affinity for music and especially innovation within the greater music sphere. Perhaps it’s the global appeal of music or just how it makes us feel, but we dig those rhythm and blues. Possibly it’s due (our affinity) to the industry itself being one of the first to be disrupted in the digital era – via Apple applying a killer software-device combo – and because it remains an industry in flux as the likes of Pandora & Spotify continue to grow at the same time niche music-based startups are turning up the heat, by turning up their volume. Back in September of last year we discussed why Lady Gaga’s forthcoming album, which is actually an app, is a brilliant stroke of innovative marketing and content genius. And just last week, we, like many of you, came across Playground Sessions, the interactive music education application co-founded by industry legend Quincy Jones, that teaches you piano through a gamified, physical and virtually blended experience. For more on the “what it is” and how it works, you can enjoy this article from Mashable. But for our purposes, let’s focus on the importance of this innovative user experience, and let’s do it by looking at the really big picture.
The One Really Big Take Away
Without a doubt thinking about this innovative interface creates several relevant rabbit holes we could venture down and dedicate an entire post to. We could chat the effectiveness of gamification and how this software wisely utilizes the purposeful elements that work rather well in self-educational applications. We could easily spend 600 words discussing how YouTube phenom David Sides has spent years creating wildly popular and free piano tutorials (think Khan Academy for piano) and is now utilizing this content and experience as part of the service Playground Sessions provides. We could even discuss the evolution of content, in this case the artist’s songs are being re-offered but this time as an interactive educational lesson and at a premium price-point. All of the above are worthy discussions that matter to how you innovate and how you can potentially monetize. But by themselves, they miss the bigger, and more important picture.
Every single day that passes, more and more individuals from around the globe are discovering ways to gain an extraordinarily specific skill-set via technology applications and platforms. People, individuals, are pursuing some “thing” of great interest to them and self-selecting to do what is the hard work to become familiar with this new skill, practice this new skill, and eventually master this new skill. This is not a fad, this is a shift. Perhaps this tweet can prove the point even better:
If you provide a service or sell a good that is in any way tied to a person’s training or education to gain the most out of the offering, then you have an opportunity to innovate. If you sell golf clubs or dance tutorials, provide language lessons or are lawn-care specialists, you have the ability to apply software (and sensor technologies) to your physical world that will allow the people who really care about your focus to accelerate their own personal path.
If you want a “way” to innovate, create interfaces that allow your would-be supporters to gain new skills that are supremely relevant to their world. Sure the application you create might be ‘gamified’ and heavy on social sharing mechanics, but at the core of the innovation should be purpose. If your innovation helps individuals succeed and grow in something they truly care about, then you will succeed, grow and monetize in brand new ways and that is likely music to your ears.
Special thanks to Leopoldo Taravilse [ltaravilse] for the inspirational tweet. Keep up the amazing progression and best of luck as you march toward your well deserved red rating on TopCoder!
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image credit: billboard.com, playgroundsessions.com,