By Colette Kolenda

I lead the Strategic Research team for Spotify’s Advertising Business Unit. After several years of seeing the benefits of doing mixed methods User Research in partnership with Data Science, I built this multidisciplinary insights team designed to provide data-informed directions for product and business executives. By triangulating 5 insights disciplines, our team delivers actionable insights that impact our 1–5 year goals and strategies for leadership.

This article explores our journey of building this unique team that generates actionable insights that shape our organization’s vision and strategy.

At Spotify, multidisciplinary research is the norm. Our Product Insights team…


Peter Gilks & Jacob Olsufka

Peter Gilks — Senior Director of Insights, Spotify Advertising

Since 2016 I’ve led the Insights team for Spotify’s advertising business. Our role is to provide guidance that enables the product and business teams we work with to meet their objectives through evidence-based decision making and customer focus. We’re a multi-disciplinary team that covers both qualitative user research and data science, as per the Spotify model. Our work includes exploratory analysis, experimentation, metric setting, building dashboards, user testing, ethnography, and surveys.

In a previous blog post, myself and Paul Glenn covered the topic of Analytics Engineering — why we think it’s an important discipline, our…


Chloe Evans
Illustrations by Shanée Benjamin

Since March, Covid-19 has completely obliterated ethnographers’ approach to face-to-face interviews. With help from Illustrator, Shanee Benjamin, Spotify Ethnographer and User Researcher, Chloe Evans, explains how the transition into research completely undertaken in a non-physical remote space has brought about some unexpected benefits as well as some challenges in data collection.

The Importance of ‘Being There’

The time corporate ethnographers have in the field is incredibly valuable; compared to academic ethnographers, they are able to spend far less time with people.


Peter Gilks & Paul Glenn

Peter Gilks, Senior Director of Insights, Spotify Advertising

Since 2016 I’ve led the Insights team for Spotify’s advertising business. Our role is to provide guidance that enables the product and business teams we work with to meet their objectives through evidence-based decision-making and customer focus. We’re a multi-disciplinary team that covers both qualitative user research and data science, as per the Spotify model. Our work includes exploratory analysis, experimentation, metric setting, building dashboards, user testing, ethnography, and surveys.

The data scientists on the team spend a good chunk of time on that old favorite that never seems to go away — data preparation…


Colette Kolenda, Shannon Gallagher & Brent Laverty

Spotify’s experience isn’t defined or constrained by the bounds of a smartphone screen, and neither are our design and user research practices.

People can listen to Spotify almost anywhere, anytime, on any device, and for many of us, it’s an all-day companion. As designers and researchers at Spotify, our challenge is to embrace an “audio-forward” approach in order to craft a user experience that spans contexts, situations, and environments.

We’re going to break down what that means for us by introducing you to the concept of “audio-forward” UX, discuss a framework we’ve created…


Alex Freeman

Listen to Spotify Senior User Researcher, Alex Freeman, discuss all things user research in this podcast for Anthropology + Technology Conference 2020.

Hailing from California, Alex currently lives in Stockholm, Sweden, where he works in Spotify’s Content team.

In his interview he describes his role as being a “Professional People Watcher”, explains his path to becoming a User Researcher and the people who advocated for him along the way. He dives deep into the importance of diversity in research teams, and how companies like Spotify are benefiting from having a range of voices among its employees. …


Nhi Ngo

Data, data,…humans?

What do you do when an A/B test can’t tell you what to do with your ML product?

I have always been a believer in data. As a social psychologist, I spent many years quantifying emotion through behavioral experiments. As a mixed-method user researcher, I always make product recommendations based on insights from data, from qualitative (e.g.user interviews, surveys) to quantitative (e.g. AB test results). …


Sara Belt

For many years, insights was seen as peripheral to product development because of the perception that user research had low validity. I spent the first part of my career advocating for why teams should systematically listen to the people using their products, why anyone should trust qualitative insight to guide their decisions, and why research is a field of practice that requires specialized skills.

Debates about validity have diminished as the research practice has gradually proven its ability to contribute value. Approaching product making from the perspective of data, evidence, and empathy is pretty much a given these…


Written by Heli Rantavuo & Illustrated by Shanée Benjamin

Illustrations by Shanée Benjamin

What Spotify has learned from people in Brazil, Indonesia, and the US during the C19 pandemic.

Just listen

“I miss freedom, I miss dancing, I miss the human warmth in bars, cinemas, theaters, shows and shopping malls. I miss sitting on the beach, looking at the sea and having a cold beer in the company of friends. I miss the nature of parks, having lunch in a good open-air restaurant. I miss family gatherings, plane trips and crowds.” Female, Unemployed, Brazil.

When the C19 pandemic swept across the globe in the spring of…


Sara Belt & Peter Gilks

Part 1. User Research at Spotify

By Sara Belt

When I say I work in user research at Spotify, folks’ minds tend to travel in two directions: they figure I research either the kinds of music people listen to or the music itself: melodies, harmonies, rhythms, and how they impact people. Because, you know, what else is there to research with the world’s biggest music player?

Over the past few years, Spotify has grown to be much more than that, and the research scope has grown with it. My team, for example, is focused on artists and the music industry ecosystem…

Spotify Insights

We’re Spotify’s global community of insights practitioners. We look at the world from multiple angles to help teams make evidence-based decisions.

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