Case Study — The Lyrics Display

This is a simple observation for how those stream apps display lyrics. I've been a heavy user of stream music for about 2 years, and I use Spotify the most, then Apple Music and KKBOX.

Among the 3 apps I mentioned above, they all present correspondent lyrics when playing music, but the way these companies deal with it is quite different.

In Apple Music, the lyrics is straightly displayed under the play screen, and not easy to notice it, like this:

The playing interface looks like the right screenshot, and you have to scroll down to see the lyrics.

The problem is that, there’s not an indication to tell users “hey, scroll down to see the lyrics!”. At first I was wondering if this is designed as a “wow” moment, but after I think through of it, I would say this is just not a friendly design. Since not only the lyrics, the shuffle & repeat button are hiding from the playing screen as well. Users will have no idea if there’s a feature for shuffle playing until they’re naughty enough to move their fingers down a little bit.

Then let's move on to KKBOX.

KKBOX features in the motive lyrics, syncing perfectly with the rhyme. And its icon actions are clear (only the right upper dots is a liitle bit confusing, but overall is nice). But what I like the most is that the lyrics would display even in the idle mode. I remember the feeling when I first saw this, and it's quiet a wow moment for me.

And here comes my favorite one -- Spotify.

Tap the album photo, then after a scrolling effect, you could see the GENIUS feature pops up.

What Spotify does is different from the previous companies, though is about lyrics as well. Spotify display not only the music, but most the story behind the music — — fun facts, the creative concept, background stories etc. I do like the feature because, if we think about why they launch this instead of simply displaying lyrics(which they actually did it before), intuitively I will say that it’s a clever proposal to deal with people’s pursuit of the reward of hunt.(Reference to Hooked)

Let's paused for a while and think about how the streaming music applications symbolize? To me, i'll say it’s a revolution in “the way people carry music”. From stereo to CD player, MP3, iPod, and mobile, the devices have evolved from physical to digital, but the human activity (i.e. listening to music) has always been there. And streaming music appears just in time, but foundamentally, our behavior lasts.

So let’s dig deeply, what kind of behavior people would do when listening to music? Most of time we swing, we sing, we enjoy the rhythm, and we look at the lyrics when we're trying to sing it or to understand what the song says.

And here comes the tricky part, we know that people tend to look up for lyrics when enjoying music, so having this feature in the application quite makes sense. But Spotify looks way behind the meaning fo the behavior — looking for lyrics — actually implies that people do have certain curiosity for the song (as we could see still lots of lyrics websites exist with stable popularity.). Next, if you look at posts on the social network regarding to music and the lyrics, it's mostly about how people "feel" about it --- that is , what really matters is that if people find a real "connection" with music.

Under the circumstance, a straight-foward lyrics disply -- no matter dynamic or static, only saves people's time googling for lyrics, but is not provided deep connection between users and the music itself.

Spotify seizes the incentive, and raises its position. In their official statement of the partnership with Genious, they emphasizes the “connection” between users and the artist, and the song:

It’s this kind of curiosity that drove us to team up with Genius, the world’s largest collection of song lyrics and crowdsourced musical knowledge, giving you a chance to more deeply connect with the artists and songs you love.
“Spotify and Genius are creating a really cool connection between me and my fans on another level than I normally can connect with them,” says Tinashe. “Not only are they able to hear the music and see the lyrics, but they are also able to understand where I was coming from when I wrote them and kind of get inside my head, which is really cool.”

This is absolutely why I love Spotify the most (under this topic). You could tell that they are not simply design a product simply easy to use (e.g. save your time googling for lyric), they really focus on building connections with their users.