Yousician: Socially Lacking

This blog post is a follow up to my presentation last week on Gaming apps for learning. Thank you all for listening to me basically whisper for 5 minutes. Luckily my voice is now back in action.

Background:

Yousician is an app that allows the user to learn either guitar, bass piano, or ukulele through lessons that are shaped like games. Yousician has 25 million users, which makes it the largest music learning app. It works on a freemium system where you can get one free lesson every 12 hours. This is what I use, though I rarely actually use it every 12 hours, it’s very hard to find time to practice an instrument at BC. The premium version is a bit on the pricier side, unfortunately.

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The idea behind the app is very similar to duolingo in that splits up the very daunting task of learning an instrument into smaller tasks to make the process much more approachable. The app gives you live feedback, as you play the song, showing you how accurate your rhythm and notes are.  You get gold stars out of 3 stars after every “song” to show how well you did on each lesson. Yousician, like duolingo, works off the idea that if you’re close to finishing a task, you are more likely to continue to work towards it.

I really like how yousician lets you customize the “missions” that you want to work on. This lets you learn what you want to learn, rather than having to follow one certain path.

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As you can see here there is a lead guitar path, a rhythm guitar path which focuses more on chords rather than fretwork, and a knowledge path which works on instrument understanding and music comprehension. This way players are allowed to choose what they want to learn. By calling them missions, it seems like more of a fun adventure, than if yousician called them tasks or paths.

Where I saw Yousician falter, was its social media presence and its ability to create a community with its users. One of the things I stressed in my presentation was how well Duolingo was able to create community through its users in the app.

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What I have found through using yousician it is a very individual experience. Although the games based lessons are well designed to be addictive, the experience feels very individual. Unlike duolingo, there aren’t discussion boards built in when you don’t do a lesson. I feel as though yousician needs to work on building communities between its users, to give the users more of a reason to come back.

When you look on facebook there is only one major group for yousician users, and it has only a little over 3,000 members in it. The engagement in this group is also on the lower side with less than 7 posts a day, showing less of a community built within the page. I feel as though music is supposed to be something that brings people together and I know personally I would love to feel a bigger community on the app. I feel as though this would help motivate me to continue practicing, knowing that I had other people who saw what I was working on. I would love to see yousician advertise a new facebook group that they sponsor, to try and start an engaged group of musicians. In a way it might be hard to do this inorganically, as I know some of the duolingo groups were formed by fans, not the company. Yousician could encourage this by letting me make connections through the app and allowing users to connect and learn from each other on tough lessons. This could encourage more interaction in the facebook group and more members joining.

Another issue could be Yousicians lack of facebook presence. When you scroll down their timeline a lot of their posts are just telling members that updates are coming. Most of the posts don’t seem to be encouraging very much engagement or even attempting to start the conversation. Duolingo posts content about its users and funny posts from other satirical sites like “shit duolingo says” which help bring people to the comments section. This will also help fans keep using the app because social media holds us accountable if your friends in the yousician group think that you are going to be practicing more often you probably will want to show the progress and therefore will use the app more. Yousician can benefit from this because ideally some of these consumers will stop using the free version and will begin to pay for premium.

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What do you guys think Yousician could do to help form a sense of community in their users? How do you think they could push it to happen organically? Do you think an app can be used to learn a new instrument? Would love to hear your thoughts.

6 comments

  1. Interesting angle. Hadn’t heard of this one yet. My kids are thinking of picking up guitar, so this might be interesting. I think their freemium model is off, though. I doubt many people will pay to take lessons more than every 12 hours.

  2. nescrivag · ·

    Cool post Tyler! As someone who has struggled to learn piano, I am not sure if an app is the best substitute to learning from a teacher. I learned when I was young and stopped for a bit. Then I tried self-teaching myself but it was really hard so I decided to take Music Theory at BC (pass/fail) to strengthen my music background. I think that Yousician could be useful if you are trying to learn at a very basic level. My goal is to be able to read music scores and play them myself without help, which is more than what some people want.
    Learning an instrument is based on one’s own skills and capability so I’m not sure if a community would be helpful for someone to make progress. The online community could help by suggesting other resources or tips but it wouldn’t be like Duolingo’s community, where a concept can be explained more easily.
    I am tempted to try the app to see how it is having already some music background!

  3. HenryChenChen · ·

    Nice post, I personally have never heard of the app before and I think will give it a try one day. I like how those Apps split tasks for you, so the process will become more approachable. And they also make the learning process to be fun. I agree with you that building communities is a very important part of learning because traditionally we don’t learn things individually. In school, we have a lot of classmates to do group projects and we can also learn from each other. Only one group of Yousician with 3000 people on facebook sounds not enough to me. I think the developers should have such awareness by promoting their business through different social media. And the App can develop tasks that can only be complete with some other users.

  4. NeroC1337 · ·

    Although I haven’t personal use the app before, I used to search a lot of tips to play guitar on YouTube, on Google, and very often I could see the YouTube ads of Yousician. However, recently, I don’t see them anymore. I am a really orthodox person when it comes to learning language, or learning instruments, so Yousician wasn’t that appealing to me. But I could see it being a fun interesting experience; very much like a function-game where the game experience serves as a mean to something, and in this case learning instruments. I guess Yousician could also turn itself into more like a GuitarHero style, with challenges, scores, that are social currencies to show-off, so that maybe people will be start spreading the words. However, reading your post, seems that Yousician is almost dead in some ways.

  5. Addison LeBeau · ·

    Great post Tyler! I really enjoyed your presentation last week, so I’ve been keeping an eye out for your follow-up post. A few things jumped out at me in your post that I would love to address. First, I liked how you pointed that the tasks were labeled as “missions,” which is key to user retention and enjoyment. I think this is a detail that is often overlooked by a lot of people when analyzing an app’s success, so I think you had a great eye for noticing that!

    Second, I was intrigued by your emphasis on an individualized experience. When I first read that you had a “very individual experience,” I thought, “That’s great!” Isn’t an individualized music lesson the ultimate goal of this app? However, you continued on to say that you felt as though there should be more communities between the users. I think you presented this in such a way that set these two options up as a trade-off, when really I think Yousician’s success will come when they have both individualized lesson experience AND a community between users.

    Overall, some great points and very well done!

  6. kikinitwithraf · ·

    The concept is really cool. I was introduced to Yousician a few months back and its a creative way to help people understand how to play instruments. The program does a really good job of keeping people engaged at the basic level. However, don’t expect to be a virtuoso or start shredding a guitar at your next party. To downfall is that the program trains you how to “push a button” on a guitar or piano, but there is so much more to playing an instrument than that. Having grown up a classical musician, things like embouchure, tone, and even the way you hold the neck of a guitar are important to the development of your skill. Again, great tool for beginners eager to learn, but i feel theres a ceiling to where you could really take this.

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