Allowing music to be more social
I grew up listening to my dad’s old vinyl and CD’s — too young to be trusted with an iPod. We listened to Springsteen, Buffet and always Glen Campbell during Christmastime. As I approached high school, I became enamored by the Jam Band scene; mostly the Grateful Dead, Phish and Widespread Panic.
Before digital streaming many people shared music by burning CD mixtapes or trading cassette tapes with their friends and family. By today’s standards, these methods of sharing are archaic. So exactly how are we discovering new music if we're no longer trading mixtapes or cassette tapes?
Today, 75% of the music industry's revenue is from streaming digitally while only 10% comes from purchasing physical music. I wanted to look more into this and see how the discovery of new music and particularly peer-to-peer sharing was taking place and if so, how.
Spotify currently has 232 million active users, 109 million of them being paid subscribers, which is expected to be closer to 125 million by the end of 2019. With those numbers being twice as much as Apple Music, it's clear that Spotify is leading the digital streaming race.
The average user listens to 41 unique artists per week - largely due to Spotify's playlist curation algorithms pushing users to new music based on their current listening trends. While users are being flooded with new music and curated playlists weekly, how are they sharing amongst family and friends?
Once upon a time, Spotify had an in-app messaging system allowing users to chat and share music via links. It was removed in 2015 and for good reason. Users cited it as being clunky, hard to find and ultimately unnecessary. However, what about a system that allowed users to share music within the app with their friends and family without the clunkiness of a messenger attached?
I took to research Spotify's competitors to find out where they were amongst the rest of the streaming services available and what made Spotify different. The basic models are the same including free streaming with the option to bypass advertisements when subscribing to a paid model.
This competitive analysis didn’t uncover any jarring issues with Spotify’s platform — it just showed that currently they are holding a tremendous responsibility for the music community, similar to MTV in the early 2000s.
I distributed a survey to millennials, both male and female, and asked questions regarding Spotify usage, how they go about discovering new music and the overall experience they have with sharing music via Spotify.
My survey yielded 57 results which allowed me to determine if users were sharing music and how often. I also was curious about how users discovered new music. Were they relying solely on friends and family to send them music or did they use Spotify’s curated playlists — or both?
With an idea in mind on how I wanted to tackle this, I forced myself to take a step back and figure out specific pain points. With my research, I did find that a good amount of people are sharing Spotify songs and playlists and take the time to carefully create their playlists with music they enjoy categorized in genres or activities like "Gym Workout" and "Beach Vibes.”
I decided to reach back out to a few survey participants and interviewed them on the specifics on how they go about sharing music and pain points associated with the process specifically with Spotify.
I spent 30 minutes which each participant to figure out who they really are and their overall experience with Spotify and sharing music with their friends. After compiling my notes and synthesizing feedback I came up with two prominent pain points with sharing music via Spotify.
My survey was good enough to show me metrics proving that people are in fact sharing music, but it didn’t give me much insight on if Spotify’s current system for sharing had any issues.
User Pain Points
Leaving the app — Users have to leave Spotify in order to share music with their friends via links sent in text message or through social media applications. As a result, their experience is disrupted.
There is no localization of shared music — Somestimes users forget to save songs or playlists that were shared with them due to being busy or distracted.
No user feedback on shared music — Users stated that most of the time they did not receive feedback on songs or playlists they had shared.
“I wish there was a way you could see all the music
that has been shared with you in one location within the app”
“I listened to a song that my girlfriend sent me and I really
enjoyed it—and then it became lost in our text thread”
There currently is no way to effectively share music in a way that can be truly appreciated and treated as an experience within Spotify.
According to studies done by Vetro Analytics, Spotify is one of the more male-dominated platforms in comparison to their competitors. However, within my research, 60% of the respondents were female. Also, within my interviews, I noticed that females seemed more “excited” to talk about sharing music and were more vocal about how they feel when they share music and are shared with.
I decided to hone in on this demographic and create a user persona to observe any other information or user tendencies I might have missed. Also, this will paint a clearer picture in terms of the average listeners habits.
I created a user journey to illustrate how sharing music within the app is beneficial to the user. This is critical to review once I start designing to make sure the features remain functional and usable.
Using the MoSCoW (Must-have, Should-have, Could-Have, Won’t-Have) method I can prioritize features for a new sharing platform that will adress user pain points without cluttering the interface.
To introduce a new platform within an existing one, the product needs to work just as it did before. Pre-existing features should not be sacrificed if they currently add value
The experience for users need to be collaborative and easy to use to allow users to share music as they wish.
Accessibility is key in creating a product that is available and functional for every single user that uses it.
Low-Fidelity wireframes exploring friend view for sharing music
After completing a click through prototype, I gave 5 of my interviewees a task of sharing the song currently playing with a user. Once they completed that, I gave them the task of giving feedback on a song to test how that function worked.
Overall, 5 out of 5 had no errors in sharing songs with friends through Spotify.
In terms of giving feedback to users about shared music—users didn’t find this necessary and could cause extra issues. However, it’s not a necessary step to complete in order to share music, it’s simply there if the user wants to use it.
If I had to re-do this project, I’d probably take that feature out and focus more on shared playlists and how they’re incorporated.
Music is a big part of my life so I really enjoyed exploring new ways users can share music, even in a different way. I think using this method saves the user time from navigating to different apps to share music with custom links. For me, reducing the number of steps for the user to complete a task was important and I think this feature is a good solution for current issues users were experiencing.
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Multidisciplinary Designer & Art Director