defecting to spotify

defecting to spotify

Though Apple Music remains one of the top three most popular services for streaming music, the threat of its users defecting to Spotify looms as the number one music streaming service continually adds features that empower its users to learn more about the music they enjoy and the artists who create it. Over the course of 4 weeks I researched and prototyped ways to offer this kind of an experience to users who, like myself, use Apple Music as their streaming service.

Though Apple Music remains one of the top three most popular services for streaming music, the threat of its users defecting to Spotify looms as the number one music streaming service continually adds features that empower its users to learn more about the music they enjoy and the artists who create it. Over the course of 4 weeks I researched and prototyped ways to offer this kind of an experience to users who, like myself, use Apple Music as their streaming service.

some background

With the release of iOS 16.2 on December 13, 2022, Apple introduced the "Apple Music Sing" karaoke feature, which introduces real-time lyrics and a new slider which allows for the volume of vocals to be adjusted independently from a track's instrumentals on supported songs. 


The ability to dive into a track’s lyrics in real-time while listening is a feature of the Apple Music app that user interviews have revealed to be quite popular across a variety of Apple Music users. This feature’s success begs the question - what else might users benefit from having access to in real-time while listening to the music they enjoy? 

some background

With the release of iOS 16.2 on December 13, 2022, Apple introduced the "Apple Music Sing" karaoke feature, which introduces real-time lyrics and a new slider which allows for the volume of vocals to be adjusted independently from a track's instrumentals on supported songs. 


The ability to dive into a track’s lyrics in real-time while listening is a feature of the Apple Music app that user interviews have revealed to be quite popular across a variety of Apple Music users. This feature’s success begs the question - what else might users benefit from having access to in real-time while listening to the music they enjoy? 

the challenge

the challenge

wiki wiki -what?

wiki wiki -what?

On Spotify it’s called “Behind the Lyrics” - you can watch your screen as you listen to see it populate live with the song's lyrics or with fun facts about the song while you listen. On Amazon's streaming platforms a similar feature is called “X-Ray” - users can swipe up on an “X-Ray” icon while streaming content to access additional information on what they're enjoying. From there, users can swipe through each fact or check out a music track's complete credits by tapping on the “Credits” section at the bottom of the screen.


Apple Music has developed many ways for me, an avid user, to feel like a music insider. Why not implement something that can do this and that keeps me from having to navigate to different parts of the Apple Music app - or god forbid to the Wikipedia app - for this information as I listen to my music.

On Spotify it’s called “Behind the Lyrics” - you can watch your screen as you listen to see it populate live with the song's lyrics or with fun facts about the song while you listen. On Amazon's streaming platforms a similar feature is called “X-Ray” - users can swipe up on an “X-Ray” icon while streaming content to access additional information on what they're enjoying. From there, users can swipe through each fact or check out a music track's complete credits by tapping on the “Credits” section at the bottom of the screen.


Apple Music has developed many ways for me, an avid user, to feel like a music insider. Why not implement something that can do this and that keeps me from having to navigate to different parts of the Apple Music app - or god forbid to the Wikipedia app - for this information as I listen to my music.

the approach

the approach

Go with the flow

Go with the flow

I used secondary research, first-hand experience, and interviews with fellow Apple Music users to identify key user goals and where they might overlap with the goals of Apple as a business. These users tend to want to stay within the Apple ecosystem as they stream entertainment which is useful when considering Apple's key goals in this case would center on subscriber retention.


Over the course of this project and through the use of usability heuristics, user research, and through the analysis of competitors' features, I aimed to explore ways to give users of Apple Music more information on the music that they listen to in a way that feels exclusive and unobtrusive to their listening experience.

I used secondary research, first-hand experience, and interviews with fellow Apple Music users to identify key user goals and where they might overlap with the goals of Apple as a business. These users tend to want to stay within the Apple ecosystem as they stream entertainment which is useful when considering Apple's key goals in this case would center on subscriber retention.


Over the course of this project and through the use of usability heuristics, user research, and through the analysis of competitors' features, I aimed to explore ways to give users of Apple Music more information on the music that they listen to in a way that feels exclusive and unobtrusive to their listening experience.

the research

the research

An apple a day

an apple a day

User interviews proved extremely useful in this case as I tend to rely too much on my own experience when solving for other users - and that doesn't make sense!


Keeping the selection of interviewees limited to those who exclusively use Apple Music to stream content was key for me to identify the most seamless ways to integrate a new feature to this existing platform and its well-established patterns as well as what - if any - additional information these kinds of users would enjoy on the music they stream.


Two of the interviewees were male, two were female, and one was nonbinary preferring the pronouns of they/them and they ranged in age from 28 to 62 with the majority of the interviewees in there 30’s and all being present users of Apple Music. 

User interviews proved extremely useful in this case as I tend to rely too much on my own experience when solving for other users - and that doesn't make sense!


Keeping the selection of interviewees limited to those who exclusively use Apple Music to stream content was key for me to identify the most seamless ways to integrate a new feature to this existing platform and its well-established patterns as well as what - if any - additional information these kinds of users would enjoy on the music they stream.


Two of the interviewees were male, two were female, and one was nonbinary preferring the pronouns of they/them and they ranged in age from 28 to 62 with the majority of the interviewees in there 30’s and all being present users of Apple Music. 

"It’d be fun if Apple Music could give me more like BTS stuff about how artists come up with their music and stuff like that.”


“I love knowing like how songs were figured out or how certain musicians get together to make a track happen - that kind of stuff. Inspirations of who I’m listening to would be good too.”


"I like learning who has written each song. A little history could be interesting - history of how the artist created the song... I could see me finding that interesting.”

"It’d be fun if Apple Music could give me more like BTS stuff about how artists come up with their music and stuff like that.”


“I love knowing like how songs were figured out or how certain musicians get together to make a track happen - that kind of stuff. Inspirations of who I’m listening to would be good too.”


"I like learning who has written each song. A little history could be interesting - history of how the artist created the song... I could see me finding that interesting.”

the insights

bts baby

The majority of interviewees have been using Apple Music for at least 5 years and expressed a willingness to continue using Apple Music to stream their music despite expressing some frustrations with Apple Music’s current iteration as it compares to Spotify. Across the board, Spotify was suggested to be the next option for these users primarily because of the sheer number of their friends and family who use the service.


While none of the interviewees expressed themselves as music experts, they all expressed an interest in learning more about the music they listen to. The key frustrations these users expressed having with Apple Music focused on a lack of features that allow them to feel closer to the artists they enjoy. 

the requirements

new button maybe

Using my user research conclusions, what I determined to be the business needs of Apple Music, the user persona I generated, and the competitors I analyzed, I generated the following list of proposed features to add to Apple Music.


These added features were proposed to be added to the current user flow for Apple Music and are organized in the order of that flow as it is for most users - not necessarily in order of priority as I had considered all of these features necessary to accomplish the new task flow of going "behind the track".


Proposed Feature: Button added to the “Current Playing” screen that directs a user to read behind the scenes information on that song.

Rationale: Apple Music recently underwent noticeable changes with the introduction of iOS 17; when on the “Current Playing” screen now (on mobile specifically) most album artwork will take over a user’s entire screen with few buttons/actions available to the user.


Proposed Feature: Card accessed by tapping new button in “Current Playing” that gives short, behind the scenes facts on the song being played in the same style as the lyrics are displayed.

Rationale: Interviewees for this project expressed interest in Spotify’s “Behind the Lyrics” feature in which they have the option to swipe between three cards - one with the album artwork, another with the lyrics, and a third called “Behind the Lyrics” that offers users small interesting facts about the making or inspiration of the song they’re enjoying.

 

Proposed Feature: Button within the card displaying behind the scenes facts that directs user to additional information on the song.

Rationale: Allowing users to decide whether or not they want to engage with ALL of the available information on any given song could be useful as my user interview synthesis showed that not all users are concerned with learning the same information at any given time about any given song. 

the vision

now playing

more info

Using insights gained from the five user interviews I conducted, I keyed in on introducing a new feature to Apple Music that capitalizes on its current UI and flow. This goal became a useful north star as I hoped to avoid any unnecessary friction and to embrace the challenge of adding a feature to an existing product in a way that could feel seamless.


The goal for this project became to develop a “more info” feature to be added to the “Now Playing” screen of the Apple Music app. I proposed that with this feature, in addition to being able to share a song or follow along with the song’s lyrics, users could be able to gain new information on any given track, album, or artist that they’re listening to in real-time.


Focused on the shared goals of Apple and its users, it was my hope that this feature might encourage users to stay in the Apple ecosystem while empowering them to gain more knowledge on the music that they love.

the framework

going in circles

Considering the need for a new feature to keep users of Apple Music within the Apple Ecosystem, I focused the development of my wireframes and user flows to reflect that taking Apple Music users "behind the track" only takes them deeper into their own fandom of Apple design patterns and systems. The following user flow became a useful guide for the progression of this project as it outlines the original path users would take on Apple Music versus the new path I'm proposing.

the insights

bts baby

The majority of interviewees have been using Apple Music for at least 5 years and expressed a willingness to continue using Apple Music to stream their music despite expressing some frustrations with Apple Music’s current iteration as it compares to Spotify. Across the board, Spotify was suggested to be the next option for these users primarily because of the sheer number of their friends and family who use the service.


While none of the interviewees expressed themselves as music experts, they all expressed an interest in learning more about the music they listen to. The key frustrations these users expressed having with Apple Music focused on a lack of features that allow them to feel closer to the artists they enjoy. 

The vision

now playing more info

Using insights gained from the five user interviews I conducted, I keyed in on introducing a new feature to Apple Music that capitalizes on its current UI and flow. This goal became a useful north star as I hoped to avoid any unnecessary friction and to embrace the challenge of adding a feature to an existing product in a way that could feel seamless.


The goal for this project became to develop a “more info” feature to be added to the “Now Playing” screen of the Apple Music app. I proposed that with this feature, in addition to being able to share a song or follow along with the song’s lyrics, users could be able to gain new information on any given track, album, or artist that they’re listening to in real-time.


Focused on the shared goals of Apple and its users, it was my hope that this feature might encourage users to stay in the Apple ecosystem while empowering them to gain more knowledge on the music that they love.

the requirements

New button maybe

Using my user research conclusions, what I determined to be the business needs of Apple Music, the user persona I generated, and the competitors I analyzed, I generated the following list of proposed features to add to Apple Music.


These added features were proposed to be added to the current user flow for Apple Music and are organized in the order of that flow as it is for most users - not necessarily in order of priority as I had considered all of these features necessary to accomplish the new task flow of going "behind the track".


Proposed Feature: Button added to the “Current Playing” screen that directs a user to read behind the scenes information on that song.

Rationale: Apple Music recently underwent noticeable changes with the introduction of iOS 17; when on the “Current Playing” screen now (on mobile specifically) most album artwork will take over a user’s entire screen with few buttons/actions available to the user.


Proposed Feature: Card accessed by tapping new button in “Current Playing” that gives short, behind the scenes facts on the song being played in the same style as the lyrics are displayed.

Rationale: Interviewees for this project expressed interest in Spotify’s “Behind the Lyrics” feature in which they have the option to swipe between three cards - one with the album artwork, another with the lyrics, and a third called “Behind the Lyrics” that offers users small interesting facts about the making or inspiration of the song they’re enjoying.

 

Proposed Feature: Button within the card displaying behind the scenes facts that directs user to additional information on the song.

Rationale: Allowing users to decide whether or not they want to engage with ALL of the available information on any given song could be useful as my user interview synthesis showed that not all users are concerned with learning the same information at any given time about any given song. 

The framework

going in circles

Considering the need for a new feature to keep users of Apple Music within the Apple Ecosystem, I focused the development of my wireframes and user flows to reflect that taking Apple Music users "behind the track" only takes them deeper into their own fandom of Apple design patterns and systems. The following user flow became a useful guide for the progression of this project as it outlines the original path users would take on Apple Music versus the new path I'm proposing.

the design

sketchy flows

My proposed feature set and user flow helped me to define the following key user tasks to move forward with for sketching and for testing:


Launching “Live Lyrics”

Navigating to go “Behind the Track”

Accessing “Tracks Like This”

mockups and testing

User testing for this project was an iterative process and was conducted at two important stages of this project to help me identify the biggest pain points with each iteration. With feedback in hand I'd revisit the prototypes and sketches, make edits, and then test them again.

Screen 4 B - Testing in this case yielded in prototyping a pattern that broke the standard Apple UI with a new icon attached to the new action to "Go Behind this Track".

The design

sketchy flows

My proposed feature set and user flow helped me to define the following key user tasks to move forward with for sketching and for testing:


Launching “Live Lyrics”

Navigating to go “Behind the Track”

Accessing “Tracks Like This”

Mock-ups and testing

User testing for this project was an iterative process and was conducted at two important stages of this project to help me identify the biggest pain points with each iteration. With feedback in hand I'd revisit the prototypes and sketches, make edits, and then test them again.

Screen 4 B - Testing in this case yielded in prototyping a pattern that broke the standard Apple UI with a new icon attached to the new action to "Go Behind this Track".

the prototype

go behind the track

The high-fidelity prototype brought test users closest to the real experience of the ideated solution and several testing phases of at least two significant iterations of this idea proved useful in making sure that I wasn’t blinded by my familiarity with Apple Music as it is.

the prototype

go behind the track

The high-fidelity prototype brought test users closest to the real experience of the ideated solution and several testing phases of at least two significant iterations of this idea proved useful in making sure that I wasn’t blinded by my familiarity with Apple Music as it is.

The impact

defendable design

I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of recreating a product that I'm already very familiar with. While the limitations of working within an already established product's design system helped me grow as a designer, they did make the process more difficult than I thought it would be.


That said, I did find the constraints of maintaining Apple’s expected UI to be good for me. In sessions with peers and mentors during this process I found myself pleasantly surprised by my newfound ability to defend my decisions to break or maintain existing patterns. I feel this ability has come with the constraints of this project and I’m grateful to feel stronger in my ability to speak to the work I am making and researching on. 

The impact

defendable design

I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of recreating a product that I'm already very familiar with. While the limitations of working within an already established product's design system helped me grow as a designer, they did make the process more difficult than I thought it would be.


That said, I did find the constraints of maintaining Apple’s expected UI to be good for me. In sessions with peers and mentors during this process I found myself pleasantly surprised by my newfound ability to defend my decisions to break or maintain existing patterns. I feel this ability has come with the constraints of this project and I’m grateful to feel stronger in my ability to speak to the work I am making and researching on.