UX design of a web based music distribution platform
that improves the experience of emerging
artists releasing their music.
If you are a new emerging artist in the music industry, you may be experiencing a difficult time getting your music discovered or even getting onto that mainstream playlist that you wanted. To solve for this, our team designed a music distribution service called 'Spotify Distribute,' which improved the experience of emerging artists releasing their music onto mainstream streaming platforms.
Topic Map, Screener Survey, User Interviews, Affinity Map, Persona, Journey Map, Competitive Research, MoSCoW Map, Design Studio Sketches, Wireframes, Prototype, Usability Test, and Usability Report
Figma, Sketch, Adobe CS
Marilyn Shi, Ash Burke, and Nyesha Viechweg
For this project, I took part in and contributed to each phase of the UX design process (Research, Synthesis, Ideation, Implementation).
While I was apart of making key visual design decisions for our platform, I also played a big role in ensuring that our project had structure, and that all of our research findings and information were in line and made sense to meet our end goal.
Identifying A Problem Space
We were tasked with identifying an opportunity within a problem space and selecting an appropriate platform to design a solution, as well as a potential partner whose mission aligns with our idea.
As a team of UX designers, we decided we wanted to explore how individuals who upload music across more than one streaming platform engage with those platforms.
Conducting User Interviews
We created a screener survey to help us identify and connect with potential users that we could later interview. The qualifying criteria we looked for were users who uploaded music frequently within the past year.
We identified and interviewed five different emerging artists about how they engaged with music streaming platforms.
Here's what we asked them:
Discovering the Music Distribution Service
We learned a lot from our interviews about the process of uploading music to mainstream streaming platforms. One most importantly being that it wasn’t anything like we had imagined, and there was a middle man between artists uploading their music and mainstream streaming platforms.
We discovered that artists who wanted to get their music onto mainstream streaming platforms had to go through a music distribution service first, by law.
In other words, it is illegal for artists to upload/release their music directly onto mainstream streaming platforms without going through a distribution service.
Gathering Insights Into A Persona
We analyzed and synthesized our research data by using an affinity map to find common trends across all of our users as far as their observations, quotes, and insights when it came to their experiences engaging with mainstream streaming platforms.
Using the research data we synthesized, we developed a persona (Jinx) to represent our users.
"I do everything I can to be discovered on mainstream streaming platforms."
Soon we realized we couldn’t move on to our problem statement because we weren’t sure what the biggest problem was for our users. It was clear that the needs, goals, pain points, and behaviors of Jinx seemed to span across both the music distribution service and music streaming platforms.
Finding an Opportunity
We created a journey map to pinpoint our biggest area of opportunity between engaging with the distributor and the music streaming platforms.
We found great opportunities within Jinx’s journey during his ‘Upload for Distribution’ phase, and his ‘Promotion’ phase. Due to timing and limited resources, we decided that the ‘Promotion’ stage was too huge of a realm for us to solve for at the time.
We decided to focus on the opportunities we found in Jinx's 'Upload for Distribution' phase.
Empathizing With Our Users
Now that we knew our biggest area of opportunity within Jinx’s journey, we pulled key quotes from our user interviews that were associated with uploading for Distribution.
mainstream streaming platforms."
Emerging artists do not get individualized support from their distribution services. As an emerging artist, Jinx wants more individualized support from his music distribution service.
How might we help Jinx get specialized support to get discovered on mainstream streaming platforms?
Designing a Proper Solution
Considering our problem statement, we knew that our proposed platform was going to be a music distribution service.
To help us check out the landscape of the music distribution industry, we placed our competitors onto a competitive landscape matrix to see where our proposed platform would land. (We chose competitors that were mentioned by our users during our interviews)
We determined that our greatest potential as a music distribution service would be to improve our users’ experience when they upload and release their music directly with us.
We conducted a competitive feature analysis chart to identify which features our proposed platform must have.
With the help of our MoSCoW map, we were able to prioritize features that would provide value to both the business as well as the user.
We chose these features based on our users' needs for customer support, financial transparency, and a human experience discovered from our user interviews, and common practices that we uncovered in our competitive landscape research of the music distribution industry.
Introducing Spotify Distribute
With the amount of data we collected, we determined as a team that we wanted to partner with Spotify to develop a distribution service that will allow users to upload their music directly to Spotify’s mainstream streaming platform.
Conducting Design Studios
Certain that we wanted to partner with Spotify as a music distribution service, it was time to sketch out some of our ideas into low-fidelity sketches.
Since we decided to partner with Spotify for our proposal, we pulled a lot of our design inspiration from their website and from their branding guidelines. With this in mind, we conducted two different design studios to brainstorm how we wanted to implement better customer support, financial transparency, and a human experience for our users.
Designing for Customer Support
We wanted our users to feel confident and supported during their process of uploading their music. To help with this we included several forms of customer support.
"You need to take a lot into account, like text conventions, your song bio...they’re strict with conventions and won’t let you go forward if you don’t . . . do everything right."
Key Design Decisions:
- while the artist fills out the track forum, they can see the track they uploaded earlier loading in the background
- we wanted our users to feel confident about filling out the forum on their own so we included clarity and tips next to each field
Designing for Financial Transparency
We wanted our users to feel confident that they had a full and clear understanding of what their financial statements are as well as their royalties. To help with this, we broke down the information to be easier to understand.
"I would like to see more transparency with payment. I also need help understanding financial statements and my royalties . . .
I don’t know how much a spin is worth."
Key Design Decisions:
- our users are able to see how much and instantly withdraw their earnings whenever they desire
- users can now get a quick, easy, and better way of understanding their earnings per song/album
Designing for a Human Experience
We wanted our users to have a personal experience with the distribution service rather than them feeling like it is a "robotic process." To help with this we included a real person for our users to speak with.
"It’s the Netflix of distribution; there’s no sense of personal connection."
Key Design Decisions:
- we included an assigned personal account manager to really give that sense of a personal human experience. users can now get help at any time on any question or concerns they may have, especially throughout the distribution process
Mid-Fidelity Usability Test Findings
Iterations to Hi-Fidelity Designs
After conducting a usability test on our mid-fidelity wireframes, we made appropriate iterations to help us develop our hi-fidelity wireframes and prototype.
Key Design Iterations:
- On the 'Track Forum' page, the ‘Questions?’ button’s description was moved lower so that it is not immediately associated with the ‘Tips’ section, thus prompting the user to click for help
- On the 'Releases' page, the ‘RECENT PROJECTS’ section was redesigned to
prevent users from mistaking the listings for clickable buttons
On the 'Account Manager' page, we made it more clear on who’s calling who
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
We learned a lot from this proposal. While the music industry can be a very competitive field to compete in at times, it makes it even harder to compete in as an emerging artist when you aren't being discovered. Artists need active customer support so they feel confident and are reassured when filling out complicated forums for their music. The earnings of an emerging artist are important to their career and should be clear to follow and keep track of. In a digital world that is steadily growing, there are still individuals who want and needed the support they can get from a real person.
For the next steps, we want to come together again to flush out more detailed designs of the desktop site, including pages that we haven't designed. Figure out how the account managers would be assigned their artists (whether that be by area or genre). As well as test out our high-fidelity prototype with more music artists.