In recent years, music streaming has had little innovation in the social space. Although we consume hours of tunes vastly different than we would’ve ten years ago, there are still some social elements that have yet to be introduced to the world of music streaming. Experiences like jamming out to a mix you made for the big road trip with friends, bonding over a new album during summer nights, or tuning in to a radio station to hear an artist’s favorite cuts are moments that have become a rarity, or no longer exist in the digital space.
Togetherness, discovery, and liveliness are all factors missing from today’s music experience. With tech revolutionizing how we consume music, we’ve lost some of its core relationship components. I’d like to show how we can integrate that experience with Spotify.
Across all music streaming platforms (Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify, etc), there is not a way for users to collaboratively listen to music at the same time. We listen together on road trips, jam out at parties, and when we do this — the music gains sentimental value. I believe this happens because we’re together. We’re creating memories, and songs become synonymous with them. This experience should exist in the digital space.
Let’s allow users to broadcast their listening session, have their friends join in and jam with them can bring back this experience. Recently active users could show up in the app, peak into what they’re listening to, and react in real time.
When designing this new feature, I decided to embed it as deep into the platform as possible. I wanted it to be the first thing you see, and give a sense of deep integration within the app.
Through multiple attempts at various treatments, I landed on a design that felt very fresh to Spotify, yet felt very familiar. Because of Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, and Snapchat, a ring around a user’s avatar suggests new and active content.
Because of the lack of social listening, listening sessions are often private for the user, and discovering new music is limited to an algorithm. Before music went entirely digital, the biggest way listeners would learn about new music is from their friends. Whether it was from sharing burned CDs, stealing a sibling’s album, or overhearing a song in someone’s car — our source for discovering new music was from the people we surrounded ourselves with.
Along with users tuning in to what others are listening to, they should be able to contribute to the session, add songs to the queue, react to what’s playing if you love it. A redefined social experience can support these interactions, let users dive into one another’s collections, notify you and a friend when a favorite artist has a new release, and most of all — provide an untapped resource of music discovery from your friends.
Radio shows such as The Breakfast Club on Power 105, Hot 97, and more are not listened to like they used to be. The once hyped up radio shows that showcased new artists and music are now consumed the same way most late night talk show content is — on YouTube after it airs. Apple Music’s Beats 1 does something very well, which is partnering with artists to announce albums, launch singles, and even going behind the scenes on albums with the bands and artists. That being said, the exclusivity of the show limits its audience, and although Zane Lowe does a great job, the episodes aren’t consistent nor exciting enough for it to be worth it for most users.
What if artists themselves could host their own radio show to drop their album?
Platforms like Instagram and Soundcloud have emboldened individualized brands. What if a user can host their own radio show and be the MC on their live session? For the average user, this provides individuality and creativity with the live feature, but what if Casey Neistat decides he wants to host a live mix when he runs every morning? This opens the door for influencers on music streaming platforms, and I think we can expect brands and sponsorships to be knocking on that door given the opportunity.
As an avid music listener and sharer, I believe there’s an opportunity to be addressed in the music streaming space. The current method of sharing music with friends is impractical, time consuming, and doesn’t connect you with one another like it should. Listen Together also supports streaming services’ goal to have their users discover music by encouraging them to queue up tracks for all the listeners in the session. Lastly, giving power to artists and influencers within the platform to interact with their fans can not only start an era of “audio influencers”, but can also allow artists to connect more directly with their fans. Ariana Grande could host a session and drop a single at midnight, or Anderson .Paak could have an entire album debut live and exclusively on Spotify.
What do you guys think? Are you interested in social listening on your streaming platform of choice?