I listen to a wide variety of music these days, but have very little idea of what I actually like.
Back when I used to buy physical albums, I had a much stronger bond with the content:
I had to pay for it - so took the time to learn about it to ensure that it was worth my money
I had to pay for it - so I only had a limited amount of it
I had to make an effort to acquire it - I can still remember going to town to buy my first Nirvana album
I had to pick it up and look at it whenever I wanted to listen to it - cementing the artwork into my mind with every listen
It was physical - so I could hold it, read it, admire it, display it, love it!
The digital, subscription-based model has transformed how I listen to music, but in many ways has made the entire experience less personal and less meaningful. I have a music library that is borderline unmanageable, due to the sheer amount of content in it. I can only identify my absolute favourite music. The rest blurs together into one unidentifiable group that comprises stuff that I actually like, but don’t know well enough to remember; stuff that I don’t like, but didn’t delete and stuff that I haven’t listened to, would like to, but can't tell apart from the rest.
Here is a potential solution that could go some way to helping...
1. Gather stats about what I listen to (which you must already have and therefore probably know more about what music I like than I do) and what I like
Play count per artist, per album and per track – this will immediately enable me to learn what my favourite content is
A rating system (why did you remove this?!) – this will enable me to manually highlight the content that I like, without the need for repeated listens
2. Present these stats to me throughout Spotify so that I can more clearly see what I listen to and like
3. Create views that give me additional insights and that enable me to access the content more quickly in the future
Scenarios – play count displayed throughout Spotify
Have I listened to this album before? The stats say that I’ve listened to the songs on it 30 times… upon closer inspection, I’ve listened to each of the 10 tracks 3 times / upon closer inspection, I’ve listened to one track 30 times, but haven’t heard the rest of the album
What are the best songs on this album? Ah, I’ve listened to those two 30 times each… probably them!
Oh look, I’ve listened to songs by this artist 345 times, but haven’t listened to any songs on this album. I’d imagine that I’ll probably like it
“I love that album – I’ve listened to it 30 times” (sentences like this can actually be accurate)
Scenarios – rating displayed throughout Spotify
Where’s that song that I heard in the car and really liked (so I ‘liked’ it)? Oh there it is!
I’m sure I liked a song on this album that I listened to last weekend (I remember the rest of the album was pretty poor – don’t really fancy trawling through it again). Oh look, there’s the liked track!
What was that great album I listened to three months ago, where I ‘liked’ pretty much every track? Oh, there it is, the one with a load of stars on it. Let’s give that another listen.
Scenarios – additional views
Ideally, these would be visualised in a super-simple way that can be intuitively manipulate. In addition, the most interesting ones could be created by Spotify and presented beautifully – infographics?
I listened to two songs (that I’d never heard before on a random playlist that I found) over and over in my car this month and they happened to be by the same artist. That artist is now at the top of my “most played artists in the last month” list. I wonder if they have any other good tracks… maybe I’ll get some of their albums.
I listened to an album on repeat last weekend, what was it? Ah, there is it on my “top played albums in the last month” list. Time to ‘like’ the best tracks on it.
I wonder what my most listened to tracks were last year. Why, there they are, displayed in my “most played tracks in 2013” list.
What are my favourite tacks by this artist? Ah, there they are in the “best of [artist]” list. Think I’ll subscribe to that as a playlist that auto-updates whenever I rate songs by that artist.
I fancy listening to some rock… I know, I’ll listen to my “best of [genre]” list. Think I’ll subscribe to that as a playlist that auto-updates whenever I rate rock music.
What were my favourite songs of the 90s, we’re having a retro party. Ah look, there they are in the “best of [year – year]” list.
At the end of the year, I fancy getting involved in the “best-of” listomania. What were my favourite songs that were released in 2013? A top 100 list sorted by rating and play count provides the answer. Let’s turn that into a playlist and pop it on Facebook for my friends to appreciate!
Oh no, my girlfriend has been listening to a load of rubbish and now I have a bunch of listens to that stuff. That’s ok, I’ll just pop to the listen history and delete the offending listens.
I've created some example screens that show how my personal play count could be surfaced throughout the iOS version. I realise that it messes with the elegance of the design a little, but I'm sure you guys can come up with a much better way of pulling it off than what I've churned out. Besides, the exercise was more about demonstrating that the updated screens have far greater relevance to me (making it feel more personal) and assist significantly in highlighting to me what I actually like.
Album view in “Your Music” now displays the total number of plays for every track in the album. This immediately gives the user a sense of which albums on the list are their favourites. I would suggest that of all places to add play count, this is the most useful. This list now has much more relevance to the user than before.
It also enables them to quickly identify new albums they have added, but haven’t had the time to listen to.
Finally, it enables them to spot which albums they might want to consider deleting, that have had very few listens – perhaps they give it a go, don’t like it, stop, then forget about it.
Selecting an album reveals the track list, with the total number of plays summarised in a similar fashion to the previous screen.
Again, the user can immediately find the tracks that they have listen to the most.
Scrolling up takes the user to the larger album view.
Total play count for all tracks in the album has been added directly beneath the album title, reinforcing the information from the previous screen.
In addition, “shuffle play” has been replaced with a link to the artist page – why would someone want to shuffle an album that has been specifically organised by the artist? If they do want to, they can immediately hit shuffle from the main controls.
The artist page has been tweaked to add the total play count for all tracks by the artist directly beneath the artist name.
“Shuffle Play” has also been removed here, as it feels totally redundant. Admittedly, I don’t have the telemetry data for that button, but my gut tells me that few people would use it here when they would be shuffling every possible song by an artist. As a result, “follow/following” has replaced it.
Scrolling down, the user can immediately see the total play count per album.
Selecting an album, results in a view that more closely matches the album view from “Your Music”.
“Save / saved” was added, as it not only unified the two pages, but it felt like an important action at this point. After all, this is where users will browse for new albums from an artist.
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