Mary Tsai
UX Designer | Maker
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Sound Bite

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SOUND BITE - A Music Food Service

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team: soonho kwon, susie lee, josh lefevre, mary tsai

class: service design

duration: spring 2017 - 3 weeks


Design a music service. Your service should have a unique name and a clear value proposition. State its mission, who the stakeholders are, and what value it provides. 

Sound Bite aims to help make mealtime more interesting by pairing acoustics with your tastebuds to create a more enjoyable dining experience.

Sound Bite is a service that enhances the taste and perception of eating through partnerships with food services using synesthetic research to pair music with foods based on ingredients, flavors and textures.

Please click here for the Medium blog that was updated by my design team each week. To see the final presentation for this music service, please download here.

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The first phase of our project was to figure out exactly what music service we wanted to focus on. My team threw out a lot of different ideas and interests that we could see us pursuing and voted on the ones that we liked the most. The main concepts we wanted to focus on were sense enhancement, spatial music, active/passive listening, and music to enhance experiences.

Eventually we agreed upon music to enhance the food experience. At this point, we were not sure if we wanted to focus on the cooking experience, the eating experience, or both. 

Our first research steps were to reach out to existing food/music paring experts, literary research, competitive analysis, and sending out a survey.




Expert Interviews
We conducted several rounds of design research. For our expert interviews, we talked to current food/music paring experts, such as Professor Charles Spence from Oxford University and Ben Houge from Berklee College of Music. 

Literary Research
These professors have published numerous studies and journals on the relationship between food and music. Ben Houge conducts a class at Berklee where his students compose music specifically curated to a palate so that certain flavors are enhanced by the tones the diner is listening to.

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Competitive Analysis
We researched existing services that provide similar experiences. The most popular service we found was Turntable Kitchen, which provides vinyl records along with food delivery - the company focused on local bands and restaurants.

We sent out an initial survey on Google Forms to gain an understanding on people's feelings about the relationship between food and music. We received 45+ responses.


Although we knew we wanted to focus on food and music, we wanted to test several different concepts. These concepts explored ideas based around the idea of cooking, eating, and listening within both the private home and public settings. 

Speed Dating

After forming storyboards and scenarios, we speed tested our ideas with several colleagues and groups. We then took their advice and refined our ideas before deciding to choose on working with food delivery businesses and providing them with playlists that would enhance the flavors of their food.

With our refined service, we did several rounds of affinity mapping and whiteboarding exercises.

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Despite all the existing research describing the relationship between food and music, we sought to test the theories ourselves around the affect of music on food perception. To do so, we created a food taste test to see for ourselves the effect of music on taste. We also sought to gain a clear understanding into how individuals or end consumers may prefer to engage with a service who creates these music–food pairings.


To carry out this experiment, we chose the following foods and paired them with existing music. While the specific pairings of our chosen foods were not in the journal articles we read; we took the data and qualitative insight provided and applied it to the hours of music we listened to in order to create the following music + food pairings:

Prantl’s: Strawberry cupcake with J.S. Bach’s Flute Sonata in B Minor, BWV 1030. III. Presto — Allegro (starting at 2:00min). The piano and flute in this piece were shown to increase one’s perception of sweetness, fruitiness, and flavor pairings.

Trader Joe’s: Pineapple salsa with white corn chips with Bird & Miles’ “best of…” album (starting at 14:45min). The brass trumpet and saxaphone duet were shown to emphasize the saltiness, sourness, bitterness, and complexity of the flavor pairings.

After testing with eleven participants, we found a significant increase on individuals’ perception of taste when we added music chosen to specifically pair with the food being consumed. For the areas and flavors we focused on, the increase in overall enjoyment and flavor enhancement was similar to studies in our secondary research.

The taste testing results fully backed up the information we had found when conducting literary research.

The taste testing results fully backed up the information we had found when conducting literary research.


After more rounds of iteration and refinement, we were down to the last few weeks in the semester so we had to start producing our final concepts and plans for the product video. We drew up a storyboard to show what the filming would look like and worked on our high-level blueprint, value flow, and journey map.

Value Flow

Value Flow

Storyboard for Final Video

Storyboard for Final Video

We had to create at least 2 touchpoints for our final presentation. We decided to focus on the final packaging design, the accompanying music card that comes with the food, and the web page on the food delivery site that would detail how the music paring works. 


Music Card Touchpoint

One of the touch points was the music card that comes with the food delivery package. On this card, you would be able to see Soundcloud comments that pop up during specific moments in the song.  

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Website Touchpoint

The other touchpoint we focused on was a description on the food delivery service website that explains how the music is pared with the food. Currently, there is a similar page on Blue Apron's website that describes the wine paring so we decided to create a visually similar page for our music service.

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High-Level Blueprint

Because our service was a business-to-business service, we had to create 2 separate blueprints: the first being the customer experience from beginning to end, and the second being the business to business blueprint.


Final Product Photos