Exploring listening experiences

Stations, the new app introduced by Spotify in the US, offers a radio-like listening experience for users who don’t tend to curate their own playlists and listen in a more ‘low-effort’ way. STBY worked with Spotify on exploratory research in the US to create a better understanding of how such an app could improve the listening experiences of different people.

Research goals for a new service

Starting as an experiment by Spotify, the app was designed for listeners who would not spend time and effort browsing for new music and instead want to quickly listen to the genre or artists they like. The idea for this new standalone app is to  allow people to easily create ‘stations’ where the app learns from a user’s taste and preferences, and helps tailor the stations by giving relevant recommendations. The app is designed with simplicity in mind for easy navigation and quick selection of preferred artists.

Understanding music listening behaviours

To better understand the music listening behaviours and expectations from users who could benefit from this new app, we first set up a week-long diary study to capture the range of specific listening moments and experiences throughout people’s daily lives. The diary data revealed various activities accompanied by music listening and the needs people had for finding the music they liked quickly and with minimal effort. At some point during the diary period, we also asked participants to test an earlier version of Stations and to record their onboarding process and listening experience while getting to know the app. This helped us examine how different users build a relationship with a music app and what is most important to them in their listening experiences. 

Diving deeper into qualitative data

Following the diary study, we conducted a few co-creation workshops in the US, with the aim of both collecting a rich set of documented recent personal experiences and triggering a reflective conversation around them. The labs allowed us to dive deeper into the stories we heard from participants during the diary study, by unpacking their experiences further and revealing some of their underlying motivations, needs and frustrations while consuming music. Our clients also joined these lab sessions and were able to hear first hand experiences and feedback from the participants.

Outlining opportunity areas for improving the design

The fieldwork stages of the diary study and the workshops allowed us to unpack the ways this low-effort type of listening matters to people and how their experiences could be improved. People gave feedback on how the new app they were testing matched their expectations, how it offered them the right type of listening in different use cases, and where certain features could be updated or changed. Our analysis resulted in a range of insights addressing the key research questions on listening needs and experiences testing the app. The final report delivered these insights alongside opportunity areas and recommendations for the Spotify team to consider.