My music experience designer project. BookXperience, Episode One, Part One.
In his interview with McKinsey & Company, Brian Solis,'s global innovation evangelist, shared how the most successful retailers will be the ones who can intertwine tech, VR, AR — whatever it may be — with the consumer experience and tie that to a store in an unconventional way.

And as a musician I couldn't help but point out that it's inevitable that music would play a substantial role in designing that experience. Music is experience.

I started brainstorming how music can impact one in a retail store, which brought me back to when I began writing soundtracks for books (after that I found out this is called audio drama, wrote an article about it, and built a data science project around finding how much sound books have… but that's an anecdote for another time). Ever since then the concept of combining music composition with books hasn't left my head. What if I turn that into an event where people would be able to experience a book on a new, deeper level?
The very first thing I had to do was decide what novel I'm going to be composing for and the place where this experience will be held. I chose to tackle the latter question first, which I quickly learned wasn't the best choice.

I wanted to hold the event in a bookstore to see whether this event would impact book sales, so I wrote an email to one of the biggest shops in Kazakhstan: Meloman. Given their response rate, I haven't received any answers.

I then contacted Daniyar Uteulin, who represents the largest Russian business publishing house MIF in Kazakhstan, and described the concept of SoundBook. Although he considered it to be a great idea, the Covid-19 restrictions at the time didn't allow for such events to be held at bookshops. We agreed to keep in touch for future collaborations.

Having worked at Starbucks for over a year as a barista, I thought it would be logical to talk to the branch store manager of Starbucks Reserve. While I did receive an excited reply, the idea didn't take off after the discussion, no matter how many times I called and texted. Being me, I simply chose to reach out to the district manager of several popular Starbucks stores in the city, with whom the discussion took five minutes — and the project began. The date was set for June 1st.
This left me with a little more than two weeks to prepare. The problem was that I didn't have a book, meaning that I also didn't have any musical ideas whatsoever. I remembered that Daniyar was open to partnering on SoundBook, so I wrote to him once again. Telling him that there was an opportunity to do SoundBook at Starbucks, we began searching for the right book.

At first, I received a list of non-fiction business books, which is MIF's specialty. While I always love a little challenge and the prospect of trying to compose an accompaniment for a guide on how to build a perfect business seemed like one indeed, I really wanted the first SoundBook episode to be tied to a story. Daniyar pointed me towards MIF.Prose and, after spending a good hour and a half looking through every single novel, I chose two.

Unable to decide which story to go with, I asked for Daniyar's opinion: it turned out that he didn't have any of them and therefore sent me the ones he had. The research process resumed once again, with me settling for Marion Poschmann's novel, The Pine Islands, which unravels the tale of Gilbert Silvester and his spontaneous trip to Japan after having a dream that his wife cheated on him. While there, he unintentionally saves a young man from jumping in front of a train, and the two continue on the journey together.

The book was filled with descriptions of Japan's scenery, which I reckoned was ideal for my music to fit in. Daniyar kindly gave me the novel and gifted another book to go with it too. As everything was in place, I began reading and brainstorming about the musical accompaniment. Like in most projects, as soon as one step is passed and the problem is solved, the next one comes up right after — the conductor I agreed to do the event with informed me he couldn't make it on June 1st… even though I had already pushed back the starting dates just to adjust to his schedule.

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