Adding karaoke to Spotify,  or a self-introspection project about music and shyness

This project intention was to add a feature to an existing product app. In this case study, I’ll tell you about how this project idea developed to be what it is today.

This was a 2-person, 1-week-project (done by Elisabetta Lanzafame and myself). Together with my partner, we were in charge of the research, benchmarking, app features and business model, and finally the design.

In this 2020 we’ve found ourselves locked-down due to Covid-19. As a mind-frame for this project, we were interested in adding a feature to an existing app that could help people surpass these trying times in a more enjoyable light.

Researching the topic of solitude and the collateral depression we found an interesting starting point: What is the importance of music to overcome these issues?

Music helps us to forget about our problems, even for an instant. It transports us to a better place where happiness awaits. We want to use music so people feel less alone, and we want to use it as a connection with others.

2 people + music = karaoke?
We conducted one survey to help us determine how to approach this project and to have a better understanding of the user’s habits regarding singing and their relationship with music.

• Do you sing in the shower? (ice-breaker)
• What music streaming platforms do you use? (i.e: Spotify, Youtube…)
• Do you like to follow music lyrics when listening to music?
• Do you enjoy Karaoke?

This process went from open-ended questions to more direct questions regarding Karaoke and their feeling towards it. In the end, we got about 90 answers with the following results:

• ​​​​​​​Most people do sing in the shower.
• Most people use Spotify as a main music streaming service. Youtube is a very close second.
• Depending on the situation people like to follow lyrics.
• Most people don’t enjoy Karaoke, or only with certain people/or situations.

Here we found an interesting area to dig into. Why people do not like karaoke? Is it a fundamental issue or is it more about the platform for karaoke?

We moved forwards the interview process to learn more about this issue, after 7 interviews we got some key learnings:

• People had performance anxiety regarding karaoke. Most didn’t enjoy crowds.
• They enjoyed singing by themselves or with close friends, maybe not in front of a full audience.
• If they know the lyrics of the song they do like to sing it.

The conclusion from the research meant that our hunch was right, we could use Spotify as a framework for this project, and that people do enjoy the act of singing, following lyrics and having a good time with friends. So we came up with the project proposition:

"How might we help Spotify users to enjoy a 
karaoke experience alone or with friends?

Afterwards, we investigated Spotify, how we can add this Karaoke feature, and how should it be. We ended up with a business proposition: karaoke should only be available to premium users, meaning that it’d replace the ‘become premium’ button when a user has purchased the service.

Premium users will have the opportunity to invite non-premium users to a Karaoke trial. This is key to promote the service and an exciting feature of Spotify premium!

The karaoke feature itself will be divided into two separate routes: with friends or alone. In the ‘alone experience’ users will see the song’s lyrics along with the singer’s voice and choose if you want to do the karaoke format or not (meaning listening only to the instrumental track of the song). And in the ‘group experience’ (joined by 1 or more Spotify friends or users), users can choose if they want to be recorded, as a keepsake or distribute through social media. And also if they want a private or public audience for the karaoke session. Customization is key!

Having someone in mind
For this project, we wanted to create a persona before jumping into the design phase. Who are we building this project for? What is this person like?

This persona became Fiona:
She’s a 30 years-old woman who works as a nurse. She loves singing especially in the shower. She listens to music every day and because of that, she's purchased Spotify Premium. Her favourite Saturday night plan is to go with friends to a karaoke parlour.

Unfortunately during quarantine, she can’t really go out to karaoke but she heard that Spotify just launched a new feature: Karaoke! She can’t wait to try it!

When going through this hi-fidelity prototype have in mind Fiona’s and her friend’s journey, you want to have a karaoke session together.

How did we get here
Here is a brief summary of our journey to coming up with this final prototype of this Karaoke feature. In total we did 9 usability testings and 4 iterations, going from lo-fi to hi-fi.
After the first round of testing, we came up with a better user flow for the feature. Dividing the flow into 2: The first being the ‘Premium’ user and the second the ‘Free’ user, who is invited to the Karaoke feature:

Here are some interesting changes to screens from iterating:

• Users were confused about the buttons and text. They were simplified through the last iteration.

• The lyrics didn’t need to take too much space, people didn’t felt the need to be looking at the entire song.

 They also didn't need to see too many of the songs that’ll follow. They rather have more space for controls.

• Am I being recorded? This was clarified with a previous screen where users could select their preferences. In this case, the last screen shows how it’d look like if both users chose to be recorded.

• In this case, people wondered how these playlists came to be. In the last iteration, it’s clearer that these are playlists that are given by Spotify, but at the end of this list, users will be able to add their own.

• Buttons became clearer and more straightforward.

• The information of the songs of a playlist was seen when the user was inside of said playlist instead of beforehand.

In this case, we are showcasing the Karaoke on-boarding process which changed quite a bit.

• The 3 buttons in the bottom changed to the top of the page and became more clearer.

• More space was given to the friend's list and it became clearer if friends were selected or not by being fixed while the user scrolled down their list.

• The main user’s playlist was not relevant for users so it was removed in later iterations.

• Other button’s copy was simplified.

• The selected friend area was moved to the top of the screen for clarity.

• For the library, we, at first, set up the Karaoke tab on top, but this move meant to give the feature too much relevance in Spotify’s environment. So it was positioned to be inside - ‘Music’ meaning that in this new ‘recordings’ area users could see their recordings.

• Some copy was simplified.

Final thoughts
After finalising our feature we discovered that Spotify has actually launched Karaoke in its latest App update. They did a great job with this new feature, as they often do!

Regarding our own version, we believe that’s aligned to Spotify's values and that is a quite diverse feature. We’ve created a more specific user-friendly version through the development of a solo-experience (for those who feel shyer) vs a group-experience (for those who missed to go out with friends and have fun doing Karaoke).

This was quite an interesting process, and with more time we’d like to develop it even further to produce an even better product. We learned a lot from user research and user flow. Also, hi-fidelity prototyping was a first for us, but a rich journey.

Thanks for reading!

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