by Lauren McGuire, President, Made Music Studio + VentureSonic
Web3 and NFTs first caught my interest in mid-2021. I love the art of it. I love the transparency of royalties. I love the supportive community across many of the Twitter Spaces, especially on the women and non-binary led projects. I don’t love Discord, but you take the good with the bad.
I quickly realized that outside of music NFTs, one element of innovation that was not part of the conversation was sound. That’s not surprising — when it comes to product design, we’re used to sound being the last creative frontier! Still, sound could have huge potential in the metaverse, bringing dimension, meaning, and a new level of immersion to the web3 experience. I began looking for the right kind of project – one where sound could change the game.
That’s when I found Metashima.
I saw Cathy Hackl and Lindsey McInerney post about the project Dimension Studio was building and it was next-level. 14,159 metaverse droids designed to act as virtual assistants in virtual worlds, games, AR and VR. Beautifully designed, expertly crafted with media from a world-class team of storytellers.
And just what I had been looking for, because Metashima aligned with one of my favorite areas of work – Sonic Industrial Design.
I love Sonic Industrial Design for two reasons:
1. When you create sounds for a robot or product, you’re creating a personality. Think Wall-E. His “voice” is positive, lovable, relatable, cute. All the attributes and emotions we want people to feel about their unique brand and tech — efficient, premium, thoughtful, you name it — sound creates it. It’s more like character development for film or television than sonic branding.
2. Sound stands in as an intuitive language between the user and the tech, communicating key information a user might need to know. In our fast-paced world, lack of clarity from a product or experience can cause frustration or a loss of interest. A well-crafted, quick, and thoughtfully designed sound is 10x faster than a visual cue and can be perceived as more enjoyable than a voice at conveying a message.
We’re thrilled to have partnered with Made Music to bring Metashima to life in an authentic, and powerful way. Sound is crucial to great product design and particularly important for robots.
– Simon Windsor, Co-Founder, Dimension Studio
Made Music has learned through years of research that if a user likes the sound of an experience or product subconsciously, they are 86% more likely to make the conscious decision to come back to the product or experience again. And the inverse is also true: if the sound of your product is wrong, users won’t want to come back, no matter how beautiful its visual design may be.
It was an opportunity to bring all the lessons we learned the hard way in Industrial Design and Voice Assistants to a new world. Now all I had to do was get the attention of a team the entire Discord was clamoring for, prove I was legit, and convince them I had something to contribute to the entirely new world they were building. Cool…
Luckily for me, the Dimension Studio team could not have been more open, responsive, and welcoming. After some time investment in Discord, #shimapossibilities chatter about sound and plenty of back-and-forth with their fantastic community moderator (hey, @jakemiddy), a call was scheduled.
We heard their vision, and how we might be able to support them, beginning with a little project: bringing a “voice” to Metashima for the first time in video. Together, we’d provide an underscore to set the tone for the world Dimension Studio was building.
The Dimension Team was clear in their vision for Metashima. The Metashima should not be too loud, overly complex, or distract from the narrative. Made Music, in turn, brought to the voice a wide range of creative options for consideration, learnings on sound that is succinct but expressive, and the engineering mix that would create a realistic sounding effect in the environment of the videos. We also worked together to ensure the music brought drama and delivered the goosebumps without being overpowering. After all: imagery was mind-blowing already — the sound needed to play a role that was more subconscious, bringing it to life through the senses while remaining in the background. Subtle but effective in helping the viewer FEEL what was possible with Metashima.
And at the end of the sprint we had results we were all excited about, including the community.
As Simon Windsor, the Co-founder of Metashima says, “We’re thrilled to have partnered with Made Music to bring the audio for Metashima to life in an authentic, original and powerful way. Sonic identity and sound FX is absolutely crucial to great product design and particularly important for robots, of course. The reaction from our community has been amazing and we can’t wait to see where our collaboration with Made Music goes next – their team has been brilliant to work with.”
I was thrilled the Dimension Studio team was game to start thinking about sound. I believe they will change the NFT game, and I hope we can help through sound.
What truly excites me is the future of Metashima and the potential for sound. Like all industrial design, it will be about the context and how sound can support the experience, not the sound itself. The reveal of unique sound design could trigger a deeper emotional connection with your unique Metashima for example. But that may show up very differently than what you hear from Metashima in a gaming or metaverse environment where less is likely more.
As I’ve learned through the beginnings of our collaboration with the amazing creators at Dimension Studio, new experiences can be crafted creatively and strategically to both drive emotional connection, value, deepen the experience and give holders agency over the experience. Developers have the opportunity to make sound and music a meaningful part of their NFT experience and it won’t all look the same.
We look forward to bringing these NFT discussions to all for Web3. Web3 won’t be quite right — won’t feel quite right — until music and sound design is no longer an afterthought. And if we get it right, it will be a place we want to keep coming back to.