How might we make the discovery process more social for music lovers so they can find good music easily?
Music is ingrained in our culture. Around 90% of the world listens to it. We may not listen to the same things, but the mere act of it is useful to us in one way or another.
In the past, people consumed music less frequently because technology was more analog. Eventually though, the invention of streaming platforms ushered in the digital format, and everything became accessible all at once. However, while we’ve been privileged with the convenience of music on demand, we are also now burdened with years worth of content with no clear way to decide what we truly like.
In my research of users’ music discovery habits, I discovered that about 86.7% of users were selective of the songs they listened to. People are generally picky with their music. Interestingly, a majority of this subset of users, about 62.5% of them, also preferred to discover new songs through other people. These users favored organic recommendations because unlike algorithms, they’ve stated that people can “verify and discuss one’s music choices”.
This led me to believe that there was a positive correlation between one’s “selectiveness” over music and their need to connect. That is, people who are conscious about their music prefer organic means (i.e. other people) to discover new songs.
As research shows, people’s emotional responses to music are intricately tied to the other core social phenomena that bind us together into groups. To put it simply, the pleasure we derive from listening to music results from our need to connect. (Loersch, C., & Arbuckle, N. L. 2013.)
Ultimately, discovering music we love is more likely when other people are involved. Currently, there are no platforms which have fully enabled this process.
User Pain Points
- People are constantly looking for new music
- People have difficulty finding new music because they are selective-either they are too particular or don’t know what they like
- People prefer discovering songs through others-either to verify or just talk about it
- People feel the need to share a song after realizing that they like it
- 60% of all users surveyed stated that they look for new music on a weekly basis
- 86.7% of users are conscious of their music and have difficulty finding new songs because they are picky with their choices (reasons include: wanting to stray from the mainstream, algorithmic suggestions don’t always hit)
- Out of this subset of users, 62.5% of them also preferred to discover new songs through other people because they verify the user’s choice and/or can discuss it freely
- 78% of users have a tendency to either save or share a song after they realize they love it
Landing on the Solution
Based on our target users’ pain points, we knew we wanted to work on the following features:
- As a user, I want to log music that I love, so that I can keep track of my favorite music → A feed of songs posted by users and ones they follow
- As a user, I want to share my thoughts on songs I like, so that I can connect with others who feel the same way → a comment section on all songs
- As a user, I want to follow other users’ (friends, celebrities, etc.) accounts so that we can connect over music tastes → User profiles
- As a user, I want to send/receive songs to/from other users so that I can find music easier → A “send” feature for all songs
- As a user, I want to browse comment sections so that I can see what others think of a song
Explanation of Solution
One solution here would be to create a user-centric discovery experience. The social aspect is important because unlike algorithms, other people can verify your taste. An organic recommendation cuts through millions of songs and shortens the process significantly. Thus, it would function similarly to a social network but just for music. People will be able to post, save, and share songs as they’d like and everyone would be able to follow one another with their own profiles. Ideally, this creates a feedback loop where users actively engage with the app in browsing profiles, comments, and feeds all to find songs that are special to them.
Product Manager Learnings:
I learned three main things throughout the 4 weeks:
- Shipping something good is better than getting stuck on something perfect. At the beginning, I was taking too long ideating because I wanted a flawless product. However, I realized that iteration is ultimately better than staying in my thoughts because it’s a constructive cycle of validation. I learned to love iterative processes-user surveys, interviews, and even asking questions on Discord-as a means to better my product spec.
- Letting the problem drive the product instead of solutions. I remember a session where someone stated: “Defining a problem well is already half the solution.” In my research, it was only when I realized that people’s selectiveness with music was tied to their need to connect with others that the solution showed itself to me. I learned to be comfortable working from a point of uncertainty.
- A spec can evolve over time, and PMs must be adaptable to this. I experienced this multiple times especially after conducting my user research. It was uncomfortable having to rewrite my spec over and over again, but I realized it was just undergoing a process of correction. I learned to embrace the changes instead of fearing it!