Music as a Mental Health Tool amidst COVID-19

Carol Liu
May 2, 2020
5 min read
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When the team at LUCID first released the VIBE app back in January, we never would've predicted the need for anxiety and stress-relief products to skyrocket in the upcoming months in light of COVID-19. Understandably, as our world adapts to new ways of living and working, we are collectively searching for new ways of managing our stress and anxiety.

LUCID is driven by the belief that music - backed by rigorous scientific methods and innovative technology - can be a powerful and accessible tool for people facing mental health challenges. More than ever, we are determined to help people achieve their optimal mental wellbeing through musical interventions.

Currently, LUCID has two patents pending - the first is a novel method for integrating auditory beat stimulation into music, a powerful sound-based stimuli that is scientifically validated to help with indications of anxiety, panic and cognitive performance. The second patent is LUCID’s groundbreaking affective music recommendation system. Patent author and LUCID co-founder, Aaron Labbé, recalls the process of developing this IP;

“It has been such a long journey developing this work over the past four years, and with the help of the amazing team at LUCID, these creations can truly come to life and serve the people they were meant to.”

In the past weeks, we've rejoiced from hearing feedback from users in the epicentres of the outbreak, on how VIBE has helped them cope after a long month under lockdown.

"Aware of my emotions I did a constant search and I just discovered this @theluciduniverse app which is helping me to sleep and basically calm down.  And to measure my daily anxiety." - VIBE user located in Italy (translated)

By examining how our users journey through the app, we’re able to improve VIBE’s efficacy and tailor it towards their needs. Through a preliminary study and analysis of in-app activity of VIBE V1.1, we wish to share some interesting and valuable insights. These can be interpreted as general trends of our user body, but also insights about mental wellness at large during this unique moment in time.

Firstly, Calm Mode is the most popular experience by far. Out of the total number of experiences, users have chosen Calm Mode approximately 60% of the time. There is also a slight preference of Immersive Music over Playlist Music. This may speak to peoples’ desire to relax and gain some separation for a moment from the stressors of daily life amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated challenges of concern for the health of self and loved ones, loss of employment, working from home, and social isolation. We encourage users to find moments of stillness and balance through immersive music, ultimately reaching a state that can be likened to transcendental meditation. The need for wellness and self-care practices is at a high point right now. People are actively searching for alternative ways to cope, and make time in their day for mindfulness.

Besides Calm, VIBE offers three additional wellness targets - Focus, Sleep, and Energize. We are ecstatic to report that Calm, Focus, and Sleep Modes are all showing effectiveness in reducing anxiety, boosting positive moods, and helping people move from their current mood towards their desired moods. Our goal at LUCID has always been and will always be to help people find a moment of peace and feel well in their daily lives. Using our users’ self-reported data, we’re seeing reports of lower anxiety, increased valence (positive emotions), and moods that are closer to their targets, immediately following their session.

At the start and end of each session, users indicate how they’re feeling on an emotional assessment grid. Throughout the experience, they have the option to adjust their position on the grid. The emotional assessment grid records their emotions on two planes - positive/negative and active/passive. We have metricized these self reported values as: Distance from Cognitive Target (DFCT), Cognitive Target Success Rate (CSTR) and Valence (positive emotions). Users also indicate their anxiety levels on a separate meter measured by SUDS (Subjective Units of Discomfort Scale). Detailed breakdowns of these measurements can be found below.



Anxiety was measured using the Subjective Units of Discomfort Scale (SUDS).

Distance From Cognitive Target (DFCT)

This measure is the distance between the user’s self-reported mood and their desired mood on a 2-dimensional arousal-valence grid. This indicates how close or far the user is at a given point from their desired mental state.

Cognitive Target Success Rate (CTSR)

This metric indicates what percentages of experiences resulted in users’ DFCT landing within specified ranges.


This is a self-reported measure of positive mood.

Helping those who suffer from anxiety is one of our highest-level priorities. Many of our early adopters are those who struggle with high anxiety and stress, so we’re constantly looking for ways to give them some relief. Across all four modes, we are seeing significant reduction in anxiety. Users are reporting average decreases in anxiety of 63%, 42%, and 23% after a single use of Sleep, Calm, and Focus, respectively. This is a huge accomplishment that we don’t take lightly!

The valence metric indicates that Calm, Focus and Sleep users are finishing their experiences in a considerably more positive mood than when they started. For example, Sleep users are seeing a 23.7% boost in positive emotions on average after completing a single session. This aligns with user feedback across our social channels, giving us invaluable feedback that VIBE is achieving our overall goal.

Furthermore, we’re glad to see the vast majority of users ending their experiences within 50% of their target state for these modes, according to CTSR metrics. Sleep Mode has been performing exceptionally - a whopping 90% percent of experiences ending within 50% of their target state. Focus Mode follows closely behind with 84.6%, and Calm Mode with 66.8% of users ending within that same target range.

The majority of our users have opted for shorter sessions (1-4 minutes in length) overall, likely due to time constraints or longer sessions being a premium feature. Preliminary tests have shown that longer experiences (5-16 minutes) are significantly more effective at reducing anxiety and changing a user’s mood state towards their desired state.

Both Calm and Focus are free to use, for sessions up to 8 minutes. Sleep and Energize modes come with a monthly subscription, or one-week free trial to VIBE Premium. Therefore, we are keeping in mind the disparity in the session counts due to the ratio of free-to-premium users. Energize Mode had a minimal amount of experiences in comparison to the other three - therefore we require more data to draw conclusions about the efficacy of this mode. This may be attributed to the premium paywall, or our users having less need for energizing content at this time.

Either way, we continue to make strides to improve our user experience, and additionally offer VIBE Premium for reduced rates or free-of-charge for people with financial burden. Especially as we see the impacts of COVID-19 worldwide, we aim to ensure our product is accessible to everyone who needs it.

Visualizations by Tristan Sauer