Spotify Kids is a new standalone app by Spotify, designed for families to enjoy a safe space to explore kid-friendly audio. Informing the development of this new app in 2019, STBY worked with Spotify to understand how kids of different age groups listen and experience audio by conducting research in the US and Mexico.
Designing for Young Listeners
We set out to understand the tastes and preferences of different age groups revealing that there are different needs and ways of listening for younger and older kids, and how they listen. Customizing per age range means that kids get more appropriate content and artwork for their age. Usability is also considered as the app is designed with kids in mind to allow for simple navigation and visual cues for wayfinding. We found that the ability to personalize is important for kids, as they make the app feel their own through the aesthetics and contents that match their own preferences.
Using a diary study to unpack daily routines
We designed a diary study using a mobile ethnography app to ask participating families to test out the beta kids app and share their first impressions. We asked the kids and their parents to explain their initial reactions and get a sense of when and how they are using it. The parents are also users of this app and therefore their experience had to be understood and inform the onboarding process as well as parental controls. Parents had the opportunity to share any concerns about the use of such an app. It was interesting to note that parents are more comfortable with their children accessing audio throughout the day rather than watching video which is seen as all-consuming and might not allow them to do other activities at the same time.
Research with kids
When we set out to do a diary study and home interviews with kids and their families, we had to consider a family-friendly approach that was not too demanding or overwhelming for young kids. At the same time we wanted to create a fun and enjoyable experience that allows kids to share their thoughts and opinions with creative expression. Our research guide was formulated in a flexible way to be adapted for kids of different ages; for posing questions differently and allowing for more playful and tactile tactics for exploring the topics of context and content of listening. We identified key moments of listening like being in the car, while playing or listening with the family at home. These become important categories to consider when creating playlists for activities and contexts.
Exploring audio beyond music
Aside from the music catalogue, the app features audiobooks and stories to accompany kids activities during different times of the day from playtime to bedtime. A lot of the content is localised, with different languages but also different genres. As we did fieldwork in two countries, we wanted to investigate different preferences in audio in each location and the importance of local content. The younger generation of listeners, much like adults, often crave local content to which cultural significance is attached. The playlists are curated by editors to provide a range of audio including popular mainstream music as well as Spanish-language, Country, Christian, Motown, and Soul Dance Party playlists. These playlists follow kid-friendly guidelines to ensure safe listening. After speaking with different families, we understood better to what extent controls were important to allow parents to be more comfortable with the content their children were exposed to. At the same time, kids are able to explore the app for new audio and explore their own taste.
The Spotify Kids app has now launched in beta in many countries globally already including the US, Australia, the UK, Canada and France. The app is available to Spotify Premium Family subscribers and features content appropriate for kids ages three and older.