Spotify Postcard Thing
Bringing back the intimacy of sharing music in the age of digital streaming
Course: “Iterating with Intention,” Master of Arts in Design Engineering at Rhode Island School of Design + Brown University
→ Ashley Kim
→ Lilly Nguyen
→ Rohan Upadhyayula
→ User Research + Testing
→ UX Design
→ Interaction Design
→ Creative Direction
→ Adobe Illustrator, After Effects, Photoshop
While audio streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have made it incredibly easy to access a limitless library of songs at our fingertips, information overload and the immediacy of online communication detract from the personal experience of discovering and sharing music. Playlists in their current form are ever-changing, shuffled, and often algorithmically-generated. Absent is the finitude and curation inherent in a mixtape or CD, which has limited storage capacity and plays sequentially.
Postcard Thing is a digital/physical experience that fits in with today’s landscape of music streaming, but taps in to an analog approach to sharing music that is intimate and tangible.
For our studio course “Iterating with Intention,” we were asked to propose a design solution based around the theme of “Analog versus Digital.” Our team decided to start with music—a universal form of art and communication that has transformed from analog to digital and back again—as an entry point.
We started our research broadly, recruiting participants ranging in age from 22 to 52 years old to tell us about their music listening habits, frustrations with streaming apps, and opinions on sharing music.
As nearly all of our research participants were loyal Spotify Premium users, we decided to isolate our design proposal to the Spotify ecosystem. We adopted Spotify Design’s framework for design sprints to ground our problem framing and ideation exercises.
Based on our research, we identified the touchpoints of music sharing and discovery as ripe for (re-)invention. The principal pain point we wanted to address was that digital streaming platforms make sharing music feel impersonal—but it’s undeniable that they make discovering music much easier. How can we reconcile this tension?
→ Insight #1
While music is universally valued as something to be shared, the ease with which you can share a link to a song or playlist leads to digital clutter. Spotify, the #1 streaming platform, lacks an in-app share feature, leaving music sent via text/IM/etc easily forgotten. Sharing music digitally doesn’t have the same personal touch as mixtapes or CDs.
→ Insight #2
Streaming platforms make it easier to discover new music, but with so much information overload, recommendations generated by algorithms are given less weight compared to those from family or friends.
→ Insight #3
Physical, tactile music experiences such as putting on a vinyl record, or burning a mix CD for a friend, are still valued for their tangibility and nostalgia factor, but don’t fit in to peoples’ preferred listening habits.
We identified the following problem statement: