Spotify’s core mission is to build a new music economy while making sure artists get paid, but these aspirations aren’t obvious to most of its users through the user experience of the platform. To remedy this, I proposed a feature that allows fans to make direct contributions to their favorite artists, to strengthen Spotify’s brand value, get more engaged users, and help independent artists grow their careers. After presenting to a member of the Spotify team, I was able to get insight into how Spotify might incorporate a feature like this.
UX & UI Designer
For a two-week design charette, I had to find a way to improve the Spotify experience. My goal was to use experience design as a way to reinvigorate Spotify’s core mission: rebuilding the music economy. How can I modify the Spotify experience in a way that adheres to this mission?
My Design Process
I proposed a “Contribute to the Artist” button that allows people to opt into paying ten cents per song stream, to promote and support their favorite independent artists. This solution not only provides these artists with new streams of income, but also makes Spotify’s mission clear to its users, increasing its brand value and customer loyalty.
Defining the Problem
Spotify’s mission is to create a new music economy and help artists get paid
The first step was to understand what Spotify’s core mission was and whether or not their existing services aligned with their brand values. It’s easy add features that make product more “fun” or “interesting,” but I really wanted to get to the core of Spotify’s reason for being, and use experience design as an opportunity for creating brand value.
But Spotify artists barely get paid
The last step was to examine Spotify’s business model, since the way a company operates and makes money usually complements their mission or values. It was disheartening to see how small of a percentage artists get paid. For bigger artists, their revenue was obviously far greater, but what about independent artists? How could I use Spotify as a platform for helping independent artists grow?
Identify Spotify’s primary target audience
The first step was understanding who Spotify’s Target audience in the quickest way possible, since this was a 2-week design charrette. While Spotify has a wide range of users I decided to design for their main target audience: connected millenials.
Propose several design solutions
Since this was a short design charrette, I moved immediately to proposing modifications to the experience of the web and mobile platform, after completing a preliminary round of research.
“Contribute to the Artist” Button
Contributions are visible to users, like Kickstarter
Available for both free and paid subscriptions
For Spotify, this aligns most closely to Spotify CEO’s mission to “rebuild the music economy and creates more brand value
For Users, they will understand Spotify’s core mission and be more loyal to the brand. They will also feel more connected to the artists, since they can directly contribute to them
For Artists, they receive alternate source of income, which is important for smaller independent artists
“Get to Know the Artist” Button
Allow users to tune into what an artist is currently listening to on Spotify, live!
See if friends that you know are also tuning into this artist at the same time
For Spotify, this adhere’s to their mission of “connecting artists to fans in ways they would never otherwise would have found.”
For Users, they feel more connected to artists, on a more personal level and will engage with the platform more
For Artists, they are able to directly influence their fans in a new way and expand their influence and social media presence
“Discover through Friends”
A friend radio station that streams friends you choose to follow
Tune into an individual friend’s live streaming
Get an archived playlist of songs exchanged between you and your friends.
For Spotify, it improves upon an existing feature
For Users, it enhances their current ability to find new music through their social network
For Artists, there is a higher chance of getting discovered through “word of mouth.”
Synthesizing research and ideas and identifying opportunities
Help independent artists
Offer artists an alternate source of income that comes directly from their fans
Get more engaged users
Show users Spotify’s core mission through an experience with the platform while increasing loyalty to the brand.
Increase brand value
Align the new feature to Spotify CEO’s mission to “rebuild the music economy and creates more brand value.
Mapping out Spotify’s existing platform architecture to contextualize my new feature
My new dashboard should integrate with the existing side bar
While the Contribute button was a simple tweak to the artist pages, I knew I would need to add a dashboard for people to see where their contributions went. I studied Spotify’s existing content structure and mapped it out, and figured out where it made the most sense to add my proposed Contribution dashboard.
Task flow for this feature should begin with a new dashboard
I then moved on to mapping how specific tasks I wanted users to be able to accomplish from the dashboard. I listed them out and then mapped out how my dashboard would integrate with the rest of the Spotify platform.
Interactive Prototype Feedback
Creating interactive prototypes for users to test
The most complex part of this additional feature was going to be the dashboard that shows users where contributions go. I prototyped it and gave user testers the task of modifying their contribution amounts.
High Fidelity Wireframes
Redo the ‘About Us’ page to make Spotify’s mission clear
The current Spotify website does not talk about its mission or values. Most of the research I found about their mission was through press releases that contained direct quotes from Daniel Ek, Spotify’s CEO and founder. Most people won’t do this extra digging, to find out about a company. One of the ways to enhance Spotify’s brand value is to show their users that they stand for something greater than just music streaming.
Introduce the ‘Contribute to the Artist’ button
The new ‘Contribute’ button contained under each artist’s name, so that users can easily press it if they want to start their contributions, or unpress it if they want to stop their contributions. The button turns green when the user is currently contributing, very much like the existing ‘Pause’ button.
Make contributions visible to users who are participating
Adding the ‘Contribute’ button was a simple change, but there was no way for the user to keep track of which artists they were currently contributing to. I created a ‘Contribute to the Artist’ page on the Spotify platform so that users could keep track of their total contributions, while also seeing who some of the biggest crowdfunded artists are at the time. This increased connectivity between Spotify users and artists, is way to take advantage of the social aspects of the platform, and increase engagement between artists and their fans.
Ideate on the revenue model
Spotify users who participate can set a maximum amount of contributions for each month. When they reach this cap, they unlock various exclusives, which are listed below.
Present to Spotify
Feedback from Spotify emphasized the relationship they have with record labels being a potential barrier for this feature
After the project was over, I was given the chance to present it to a member of the Spotify team, front end developer, Erin Depew. Her feedback was overall positive, but thought that a solution like this might conflict with Spotify’s existing contracts with the record labels, since my proposal would cut record labels out of the deal and allow funds to go directly from Spotify listeners to Spotify artists.
Next steps are to re-examine how record labels can be written into the Contribute to the Artist revenue model
Since Spotify relies a lot on the partnerships they have created with record labels, the next steps for this project would be to figure out how to write the record labels into the deal, while still staying true to the initial goal of making sure artists get paid.