The Hub Cool News

HoJo MoJo

howard-johnsonsThe last Howard Johnson’s in America is re-opening its doors, reports Paul Post in The New York Times (5/23/15). The restaurant, located in Lake George, New York, closed in 2011. Jon LaRock, a local businessman who had worked at the restaurant in his youth, reopened it in January of 2015, “banking on a love of nostalgia among baby boomer diners and a brisk summer tourist season to resurrect a symbol of roadside Americana.” In its heyday, there were “over 1,000 restaurants … from coast to coast.”

So far, the drawing power of the last Howard Johnson’s, with its “orange roofs and blue spires” appears strong. “We’ve had people from Connecticut, Maine and New Jersey drive all the way here just to sit in a HoJo’s,” says Jon. He thinks the appeal is a combination of “three things — a breakfast counter, ice cream shop and restaurant — all under one roof.” He says he thinks “that’s why HoJo’s through the years did so well.” Jon “spent over $200,000 to bring the restaurant back to life” in time for Lake George’s short summer season.

The real draw, of course, is the nostalgia. “One lady started crying because it brought back memories from the past,” says Brendin LeBrun, a line cook at the restaurant. Jon is allowed to use the Howard Johnson’s name because the building’s owner, Joseph DeSantis “ran a franchise there.” There actually is one other Howard Johnson’s restaurant still in operation in Bangor, Maine, but it doesn’t have the signature orange roof and is expected to close soon. There are also some 400 Howard Johnson (without the “s”) hotels, run by Wyndham.

Retroraunts

kfcFast-food giants are hoping nostalgia will restore their former glory, reports Sydney Ember in The New York Times (5/22/15). Both McDonald’s and KFC are dipping back into their advertising past with an eye toward engaging younger consumers on social media. McDonald’s is doing so by bringing back the Hamburglar, which “last appeared in a commercial in 2002.” The social-media response was not entirely positive, with some calling the next-generation Hamburglar “awkward, weird and even creepy.”

This was the goal, more or less. “We knew the Hamburglar would obviously create some buzz,” says Joel Yashinsky, a McDonald’s vice president of marketing. “When we saw it trending on Twitter, we knew we had connected in a way that helped the relevance of the brand.” The chain formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken is on a similar path. It has resurrected Colonel Sanders, “a white-haired, white-suited character based on the company’s founder, Colonel Harlan Sanders,” this time played by comedian Darrell Hammond. (video)

This is the first appearance by Colonel Sanders in the chain’s advertising in about 20 years. Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Hochman says the idea is to “attract the younger consumer.” The thinking is that the Colonel’s focus on quality ingredients, entrepreneurial spirit and showmanship make him “like the ultimate millennial start-up.” Both chains expect the new ads will help compete against “fast-casual chains that promise higher-quality ingredients and healthier dining options.” KFC is also re-designing its stores as part of this effort.

Stairwellness

stairsA staircase can create a sense of community within a company, reports Keiko Morris in The Wall Street Journal (5/14/15). This is certainly true at Yodle, Inc., in New York City, where a “walnut-and-steel staircase” has become “a hangout — a place to eat lunch, chat, hold meetings, give staff presentations, and soon, watch movies.” (image) The company’s CEO, Court Cunningham, also makes a point of taking the stairs instead the elevator, saying that it gives him “a feeling of peace and beauty.”

At Yodle and elsewhere, a staircase is “both a physical and a psychological connector linking employees in different departments. It has become a tool to generate openness and collaboration.” It becomes “the heart of the office, much like the kitchen is the gathering place in many homes.” Kimberly Sacramone of HLW International, which designed Yodle’s offices, says the staircase help break down departmental silos by bringing people together. “Nowadays people are trying to break down those silos,” she says.

Richard Smyth of JetBlue says that without its staircase, the office’s “three floors would be like three different companies.” WeWork, a provider of shared office space, “has a spiral staircase … that connects three floors.” Co-founder Miguel McKelvey says this forces interaction. “You’re in transition when you’re on stairs, and in my experience you are more open to real moments of communication,” he says. “You are looking around and up and more likely to see someone than if you were walking down a hall with your face buried in a phone.”

To See The Sky

houseflyA staircase manifests itself as art in New York City, reports Holland Cotter in The New York Times (5/14/15). The installation is called ‘To See The Sky,’ and the “free-standing steel spiral staircase … leads upward toward the Museum of Modern Art’s sixth-floor gallery ceiling. The sky, limitless and shifting, source of nurture and destruction … makes an attractive goal for a climb .. But as you reach the top of the staircase, something unnerving happens.”

“The structure starts to wobble and sway, like a ship on a moody sea. Looking skyward becomes hard; your gut tells you to focus on where your feet are. Even when you’ve come back down, it takes a minute to find your land legs. So, just when you thought you were in for a bit of transcendence, free and clear, you’ve been given a wake-up poke, a little slap of fear, a reminder that looking for light is perilous; danger is always near; which is the message that this imaginative, tough-minded and still underestimated artist has been delivering for years.”

The artist, if you didn’t already know, is Yoko Ono. The MoMa exhibit (link) is her first one-woman show there — not including the fake one she staged in 1971. That show featured “just one piece: a bottle holding a swarm of houseflies Yoko claimed she had doused with her favorite perfume and released in MoMa’s garden, from which point they dispersed into the museum and the city beyond.” The idea was to find the flies, which would require “looking at everything, everywhere.” You might say it was the very first attempt at buzz marketing.

Homo Economicus

human-gearsEconomists think people behave rationally, but they usually do not, reports Richard H. Thaler in The New York Times (5/10/15). “Economists discount any factors that would not influence the thinking of a rational person,” Richard writes. “But unfortunately for the theory, many supposedly irrelevant factors do matter.” Economists instead study “mythical creatures often known as Homo economicus (or Econ) … highly intelligent beings that are capable of making the most complex of calculations but are totally lacking in emotions.”

Richard, a University of Chicago professor, explodes this myth by describing his experience grading a mid-term exam. The test was hard and “the average score was only 72 points out of 100.” His students were upset and not satisfied even though the exam was graded on a curve and a 72 earned a B+. Richard’s solution was to raise “the points available for a perfect score to 137.” On this new scale, “the average numerical score was 96 points.” It didn’t matter that, on a percentage basis, the average was a 70 — his “students were delighted!”

In their heads, a 96 was better than a 72, even though their grade was slightly worse than before. Similarly, an Econ wouldn’t “buy a larger portion of whatever will be served for dinner on Tuesday because he happens to be hungry when shopping on Sunday.” Yet people do this all the time. Economists think that markets turn “otherwise normal human beings into Econs,” but markets do not correct their emotional, irrational behavior. “In fact,” writes Richard, “It is much easier to make money by catering to consumers’ biases than by trying to correct them.”

Misbehaving

misbehavingThe dismal science can help make the world a better place, suggests Carol Tavris in a Wall Street Journal review of Misbehaving by Richard H. Thaler (5/16/15). The dismal science is, of course, economics, and its reputation was earned thanks to a stubborn refusal among economists to accept that people tend to make irrational choices in absence of available information. When economists make faulty predictions based on the opposite assumption — that people make fact-based, rational decisions — they tend to blame the data, not their misreading of human behavior.

Richard’s book, an autobiography, chronicles a journey that led him to “behavioral economics,” a combination of social science and economics. This began in the 1970s, and the book focuses on four areas: “mental accounting (with chapters on bargains and sales, sunk costs, budgets and gambling); self-control (the difference between people who plan and people who impulsively act); finance (including the irrationality of people’s behavior in the stock market); and fairness (why people often prefer fairness to self-interest).”

The upshot is that such understanding of human behavior enables “governments and businesses … to promote healthier behavior and wiser choices.” This is controversial as it suggests “paternalism,” but Richard believes that it can be done in a way that simply “lowers the error rate, whether that has to do with reducing driving accidents, getting men who use public urinals to aim better or enticing people to save for retirement — and do it in a way that makes people themselves happier with the results.”

TV Art

cbs-eyeThe birth of television and modern art share an overlooked relationship, reports Marc Myers in The Wall Street Journal (5/13/15). At first, television was the new radio, and as Bob Hope put it: “When vaudeville died, television was the box they put it in.” By the early 50s, TV “began to come under withering criticism for being a narcotic time-waster and a torchbearer of bad taste.” But top network executives, like William Paley of CBS and David Sarnoff of NBC, were art lovers and their “socialite” friends pressed them for higher-brow entertainment.

Such pressure manifested itself in everything from CBS’s “modernist corporate ‘eye’ logo” to “set designs influenced by Alexander Calder, Georgia O’Keefe, Pablo Picasso” and others. The influence is also evident in “the Dadaism of The Ernie Kovacs Show, surrealism of The Twilight Zone, comic-pop of Batman and the psychedelic silliness of Laugh In.” A children’s show, Winky Dink and You, “encouraged children to draw on the TV screen.”

A special set of crayons and a vinyl sheet “that could cling to the screen” were marketed, so that children could “add to the pictures,” create their own characters or “decode messages” of a “climatic scene in each episode.” Whether any of this actually engaged children or enlightened “a TV-watching public more comfortable with roller derby, family drama or quiz shows,” is unknown. However, this unlikely convergence of art and entertainment is documented in an exhibit, “Revolution of the Eye,” at the Jewish Museum in New York City.

Broadcast Hysteria

broadcast-hysteriaThe news media response to War of the Worlds in 1938 reverberates today, reports Richard J. Tofel in a Wall Street Journal review of Broadcast Hysteria by A. Brad Schwartz (5/15/15). “The hysteria” when Orson Welles “took to the airwaves of CBS with a fake newscast reporting a Martian invasion of New Jersey” was mostly a result of the ensuing news media coverage. “There were no car accidents, no miscarriages, no suicides,” Brad writes in the book. Only false news reports that there were.

Of the six million listeners, about one million “seem to have mistaken the drama for a news show, at least at first. Most of them appear to have missed the part about the Martians and thought there was either a natural disaster or some sort of battle going on west of New York. Yet if radio listeners did not panic, newspaper reporters surely did … publicizing ‘a nationwide panic that never actually existed’.” One result was “a campaign to rein in the power of radio, a relatively new mass medium that might, it was thought, produce hysteria generally.”

War of the Worlds sounded plausible at the time because radio listeners were used to hearing bulletins about Hitler’s threats and subsequent actions, for example. True reports of hurricanes leaving hundreds dead also made the fake newscast sound plausible. Radio’s power endures to the present day — versus television and the Internet — largely because it forces listeners to visualize its creations. “It’s not so much that picturing Martians in one’s head makes them easier to believe in as it is that people see the Martians they are ready to see,” Brad writes.

Old Navy News

old-navyOld Navy is on a tear thanks to its new approach to selling clothes, reports Hiroko Tabuchi in The New York Times (5/18/15). Old Navy’s old approach — selling “clothes by the pound” — emphasized low prices with little to no regard for “the aspirations of low-income shoppers.” The basic idea was “to combine the style and quality of Gap clothing with the low prices and big selection of a Home Depot.” Its styles were adapted, “often clumsily,” from items its merchants would pick up from “higher-end retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue.”

“We were taking a product that was in the marketplace and we were bringing it to market maybe a year later,” says Jill Stanton, formerly of Nike and now Old Navy’s design chief. This has been replaced with a strategy Jill calls “fabric platforming” that allows “designers to quickly test various prints, shapes and sizes in small runs in stores before increasing the production of styles that were a hit with shoppers.” A new design team includes recruits from places like “Coach, Reebok and North Face” who obsess “over every detail.”

Old Navy also recruited Ivan Wicksteed, a former Coca-Cola creative chief, whose first order of business was cultural. “You have to start with the employees,” says Ivan. “If you can’t get your own people to want to get on board and change direction, then you’ll never persuade your own customers to do it.” One of Ivan’s first moves was to infuse its headquarters with “pop photography and upbeat music.” Last year, “Old Navy took in almost $6 billion in sales” — nearly as much as its sister chains — Gap and Banana Republic — combined.

Bitter American

bitter-americanClever artwork can be the key to craft-beer success, reports Erin Geiger Smith in The Wall Street Journal (5/14/15). For 21st Amendment Brewery, a simple change in name and package illustration resulted a dramatic sales increase. The brewery’s IPA, called Bitter American, a lower-alcohol brew known as session ale, came packaged in cans. It made its debut in 2011, featuring an illustration of a chimp they “called Ham — after the chimp launched into space in 1961.” The idea was to convey a bit of dark humor.

This was perhaps a bit too dark — the illustration’s “blue hues” and an unhappy looking chimp stranded in space suggested the beer was heavy, when it wasn’t. So, Bitter American re-entered as Down To Earth. New graphics “replaced the dark skies of outer space with a bright-turquoise sky and ocean.” Ham is still featured, but now he’s smiling and relaxing in an orange-striped hammock on a tropical beach. “We felt we needed to make the package speak to what the beer really was,” says 21st Amendment co-founder Nico Freccia.

Down to Earth launched in April, and its sales “are triple what Bitter American sold in all of 2014. Importantly, the new, more playful design complements the brewery’s other offerings, such as Hell or High Watermelon, which “depicts the Statue of Liberty relaxing on the Golden Gate Bridge, her toes dipped in the water.” Joe Duffy, a designer, say this matters because when the cans appear together on a shelf they “hang together and establish a billboard effect for the brand.”

Wegmans Best

wegmansTo know Wegmans is to love Wegmans, reports Roberto A. Friedman in The Washington Post (5/13/15). “The first thing you need to know about Wegmans is it’s as special as people say it is,” says Burt Flickinger of Strategic Resource Group. “There’s a joke up in Buffalo that with all the bad weather this past winter, people would go shop at Wegmans just to cheer up.” Wegmans has just 80 of its supermarkets “sprinkled across the Northeast, most of which are found in New York (46) and Washington DC (14)” and will soon open a store in Brooklyn, NY.

All of their stores “are huge” and the one in Brooklyn, set to open in 2017 “will be 74,000 square feet” — making it both “Wegman’s smallest and Brooklyn’s largest.” Its success is that it “can compete with Whole Foods because its produce is some of the freshest in the business; it can compete with Trader Joe’s because its prices are some of the most reasonable; and it can compete with Walmart, because its stores are, well, massive.”

“Wegman’s has achieved that trifecta by anticipating things others simply weren’t thinking about 30 years ago,” says Burt. “They were already emphasizing fresh, but then they bet on volume,” which ensures both freshness and high quality. Like Trader Joe’s, it keeps prices low by emphasizing its own brands and, unlike Whole Foods, owns its own warehouses. Add in happy workers and a theatrical shopping experience, and you have a store Consumer Reports consistently rates as the best in the country.

Self-Disservice

piggly-wigglyTension between the “pampered and the paupers” is growing, reports The Economist (5/9/15). The tug manifests in the growth of “the self-service revolution,” which began in earnest in 1916, when Clarence Saunders, founder of Piggly Wiggly supermarkets “changed the face of retailing” by opening the first self-service grocery store. It continues into modern times with self-service checkouts and online banking, for instance. The benefit to the customer is measured, perhaps, in both time and money saved.

This may have its limits, though, as Craig Lambert points out in his book, Shadow Work: “The reason why so many people feel overworked these days is that they are constantly being asked to do ‘unseen’ jobs by everybody from Amazon to the Internal Revenue Service … And the reason they feel so alienated is that they spend so much time pressing buttons and speaking to machines rather than interacting with other people.” The travel industry “has been particularly ruthless” in this regard, via apps, kiosks and other self-activated experiences.

However, while they shift the labor in the mass-market, self-service businesses differentiate themselves among their elite customers with exquisite service. This could intensify resentment between customers while also robbing “the have-nots of entry-level jobs.” Another self-serve risk is that businesses will lose touch with their customers, and their cost-saving endeavors will lead consumers “to shop on price, and thus to switch as soon as a slightly cheaper rival comes along,” or a rival simply offers better customer service.

The Age of Awe

carla-hendraAwe hangs out at the intersection of extreme pleasure and mild fear. A Hub White Paper by Carla Hendra of OgilvyRED. Everybody has their own idea of what awesome means to them. A lot of that revolves around the amazing things that are possible today because of design, innovation and technology. I recently had what I thought was an awesome experience, and it all happened while I was in motion inside a London cab. I was on my way to a meeting and drove by a retail store I know well from New York — Kate Spade. At about 30 miles an hour, that only took two seconds. But in those two seconds I saw, and fell in love with, a rose-patterned dress draped on the mannequin in the window.

I wasn’t stopped in traffic, so I only caught a glimpse of the dress. That was enough. iPhone in my hand, I immediately Googled “Kate Spade Floral Dress.” In less than a second, that beautiful dress appeared on my screen, and I could see links to the sites where it was for sale. Ten seconds later, I had ordered it on Bloomingdales.com with Paypal, and arranged for its delivery to my New York apartment by the following day. The dress got home before I did! I arrived home the following day and found it there in all its glory. The same dress I’d literally whizzed by just the day before, some 3,000 miles away. Continue Reading.

Late Night Americana

americanaDavid Letterman’s affinity for Americana music is a key part of his legacy, reports Neil Shah in The Wall Street Journal (5/9/15). “Dave was celebrating Americana artists before we knew what we were called,” says Americana artist Emmylou Harris. Americana, according to the Americana Music Association, involves “elements of various American roots music styles,” such as “country, roots rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues.” Dave’s taste for the style dates back to 1972, when he first heard Will The Circle Be Unbroken.

The song appeared on a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “collection of early American music with the Carter Family,” says Dave. “I just loved it.” (video) As he prepares to conclude his Late Night run on May 20th, his “musical-guest roster is stacked with country and Americana acts, roots rockers and others.” It’s not that other shows don’t feature Americana, it’s the degree to which Dave has done so. Willie Nelson has been on the show 25 times and Emmylou Harris 22 times, for instance. Then there are the appearances by lesser-known artists like Shovels & Rope.

What Dave likes, apparently, is “literate, blue-collar songs … earnest tunes that reveal emotion rather than hide it.” As he puts it: “It’s all about the songwriting and the lyrics … I like the stories they tell, I like the people, I like the roots of the music.” His departure is a huge loss for the genre. “It really is the end of an era,” says roots rocker Steve Earle. Country singer Elizabeth Cook, host of Apron Strings, a SiriusXM program of which Dave is a fan, has a thought on Dave’s future: “He should probably be a record producer in his next career.”

We Shall Overcome

weshallovercomeThe anthem of the American civil rights movement is steeped in centuries of folklore, reports Margalit Fox in The New York Times (5/8/15). Indeed, the “opening bars” of We Shall Overcome recalls the hymn O Sanctissima, “first published in the 1790s. (Beethoven would write a setting of the hymn in the early 1800s). A version of the melody — recognizable by modern ears as We Shall Overcome — was published in the United States in 1794” as Prayer of the Sicilian Mariners.

The song as we now know it didn’t really come together until the mid-1940s, when it “was taken to the picket lines by striking tobacco workers.” The strikers brought the song, then known as We Will Overcome, to the Highlander Folk School, a “wellspring of the civil rights movement,” where it “quickly became a favorite of the school’s musical director,” Zilphia Horton. Guy Carawan, a folklorist and activist, who died recently at age 87, later reworked the song with Zilphia and fellow folk singers Pete Seeger and Frank Hamilton.

The song was largely unknown when Guy performed it at a civil rights gathering in 1960, but it caught on immediately, and became “the musical manifesto that, more than any other, became the ‘Marseillaise’ of the integration movement,” which is how “The New York Times described it in 1963.” Having served “variously as a religious piece, a labor anthem and a hymn of protest,” We Shall Overcome “had woven in and out of American oral tradition for centuries, embodying the twinned history of faith and struggle.”

Acres of Clams

roger-mcguinnFrancis D. Henry wrote the “Old Settler’s Song,” or “Acres of Clams” around 1874, says Roger McGuinn in The Folk Den. Set to the tune of “Rosin the Bow,” it was thought to be the state song of Washington according to the The People’s Song Bulletin until it was decided the lyrics were not dignified enough. I learned “Acres of Clams” at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago around 1957 and found it recently in a book from the school. Hear The Song.

Buddy System

buddy-carlyleA relatively obscure Mets pitcher is attracting an unusual fan club, reports Jared Diamond in The Wall Street Journal (5/11/15). Buddy Carlyle is “a 37-year journeyman” who joined the Mets last season and certainly throws in the shadow of, say, Matt Harvey, or Zack Wheeler. But his quirky pre-game ritual has amassed “a legion of devoted fans.” When the Mets are on the road, Buddy arrives at the stadium about 90 minutes before the game starts. He scans the stands for a young fan with a glove on, and begins playing a game of catch with him or her.

Buddy says it’s not about attracting attention to himself: “It’s something that’s easy for me to do,” he says. “I figure it’s something they’ll always remember.” It matters not whether the youngster is wearing the opposing team’s jersey — given that Buddy plays catch only when on the road means the odds are his play mate is rooting against his team. At a recent game versus the Phillies, he chose 8-year-old Kate Wellington, who was wearing a Phillies shirt and sporting a pink glove, because Buddy has a daughter about the same age who also has a pink glove.

This amazed Kate, who later said Buddy was now her favorite Met (she admits she doesn’t know the names of any of the other Mets). Her dad, Eric Wellington, said he wouldn’t now root for the Mets, but would root for Buddy. The pitcher did manage to make a convert out of 6-year-old Vasili Dizes, who switched his allegiance from the Yankees to the Mets after his Buddy experience. Buddy skips his ritual at home games because the Mets need the field for batting practice. “I’m just sorry I’m not somebody cooler,” he says.

Yogi Legacy

yogi-berraYogi Berra’s greatest ‘Yogi-ism’ is not his quirky aphorisms, writes Dave Kaplan in The Wall Street Journal (5/12/15). You know Yogi-isms: “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” “It gets late early out there.” “The game’s isn’t over until it’s over.” What you might not know is that a Cardinals scout told a 16-year-old Yogi he would “never be a professional ballplayer.” He also “had to quit school after the eighth grade to help his Italian-immigrant parents,” and then, after fighting on D-Day, was signed as a Yankee “for a minor-league contract worth $500.”

Yogi turned out to be “a genius on the field, anchoring the team’s dynasty from the late 1940s to the early ‘60s. After retiring, he became an influential coach and manager.” Despite these accomplishments, Yogi’s “one regret was that he never received a formal education,” so he established a scholarship program as well as the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center, which “conducts year-round educational programs and summer camps for children from underserved communities.”

Yogi’s legacy also involves Carlos Lejnieks, who shares both Yogi’s passion for baseball and a childhood spent working instead of going to school. It happened that Carlos and Yogi lived in the same town and went to the same church. At 15, Carlos organized a baseball memorabilia show and persuaded Yogi to be his star attraction. Years later, Yogi recommended Carlos in a letter to Brown University. Carlos got in, and today he is president and CEO of Newark’s Big Brothers and Big Sisters, “a one-to-one mentoring agency for underserved youth.”

Matter of Moments

bob-skubicEach and every brand moment is an insight into the brand experience. A Hub Essay by Bob Skubic of Cibo. The great baseball philosopher Yogi Berra once said: “In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.” He might as well have been talking about the challenges of today’s experiential marketers. We are all faced with the task of delivering the lofty promises our brands make.

It’s one thing to put a brand promise in an executive slide deck. It’s another to deliver that promise to a customer. Just satisfying our customers (i.e., making sure they don’t leave) is a good start, but as our operations and thinking develop, we need to evolve towards truly delivering on our brand promises, and delighting our customers to the point that they become our greatest advocates.

But what to do? Where, and when? What will make the difference between the experience we are delivering now and the one that will move the needle for our business? More specifically, where do we get the insights that can make the difference between what we’re doing today and something that will make our customers gush with enthusiasm? Continue Reading.

The Sync Project

sync-projectThe convergence of biometric trackers and music apps may prove therapeutic, reports Chau Tu in The Atlantic (5/7/15). “We have this super interesting moment where, in the last 10 years, major companies have put millions of songs in everyone’s pockets,” says Alexis Kopikis, co-founder of The Sync Project. “Then we have a bunch of technology companies trying to develop every possible sensor that you can put on your body to measure physiology.” The Sync Project hopes this will provide a pathway to music as medicine.

So date, The Sync Project is “an online and mobile platform that pairs users’ music-streaming services with their wearable body monitors — Fitbit and the like — to track how music might be interacting with their body. The collected data is then shared with scientists.” The hope is that it will be possible to “pinpoint the properties of music that were effective for different conditions” — identifying the relationship between things like blood pressure, sleep patterns or concentration and the music being played at the time.

While music has been shown to trigger certain responses in the brain, its ability to influence health remains uncertain. Jessica Grahn, a neuroscientist, says that music with a steady beat seems to improve “the gait of Parkinson’s patients, which is often jerky and unsteady.” At the very least, an music-biometric app could provide scientists with valuable data for further study. Jessica says “there’s a lot of hype about what music can do,” but at least “there are generally no bad side effects” and it gives “patients a sense of control over their treatment.”