Spotify is the world's leading music platform, after they added a new feature to let users view the lyrics to all their favorite songs, I saw an opportunity to provide users a way to learn to play their favorite songs as well.
There are an overwhelming amount of resources online to learn music, this can be daunting for people who want to learn to play, but don’t know where to start.
This feature would allow Spotify users to not only be listeners, but become players, all without ever leaving the app.
I started by researching the field of music learning platforms and I found that 74% of adults have tried to learn an instrument, but only 21% of people are self taught.
Based on the above statistic, it became clear that bringing learning to the same place where people are already listening, would provide users with a convenient opportunity to learn to play their favorite songs.
To get a better sense of how I could accomplish this goal, I analyzed the 3 top music learning platforms. This research helped me to understand the strengths and weaknesses of other platforms in this field so I could know what I needed to implement and what I needed to avoid. This gave me a better general direction of what my next steps were going to be.
Ultimate Guitar seems to be the leading platform for musicians to learn online with their strong emphasis on tablature, video tutorials, and forums.
The most successful learning platforms have loop functions and the ability to play along to the song
Most of the best apps only let you unlock the most valuable features like the ability to play along in real time or access the most accurate tablature for a monthly membership varying around $15
My target audience for this feature is anybody with the desire to learn to play and amateur musicians at a beginner level. I interviewed 6 users of different demographics who have learned to play an instrument in their life, some were more experienced than others but I was more interested in exploring their different learning processes, needs, and pain points. This would help me better understand how to make this feature a valuable learning resource.
Only 2 of my participants were completely self taught
Most people think they would have a harder time teaching themselves than if someone else taught them, this showed me it was imperative to make this feature as easy to use as possible so it would not intimidate users
Video tutorials and tablature seem to be the most preferred ways to learn
Everybody had different reasons for wanting to learn, but everyone felt major fulfillment when they reached a milestone in their development
3 out of 6 participants play guitar. I would focus on guitar for the MVP since its one of the most popular instruments to learn
Most participants think learning the basics in depth holds value but it’s not an absolute necessity
Identifying Ideal Personas
After my interviews I was able to create the ideal personas that would be interested in this feature. Veronica is an adventurous person who loves to try new things. She wants to learn to play the guitar as a new hobby but she sometimes has a hard time sticking with things long enough to really see improvement.
Identifying Task Flows
With my persona in mind, I created a user task flow to see how a user might go from listening to their music to adding it to their learn to play list to begin their learning process. This helped me picture how the feature would be used and I wanted it to be simple enough that the user wouldn’t get frustrated and give up on the prospect of learning.
I sketched my ideas to get a feel for how I would seamlessly fit this feature into Spotify. I wanted to let users choose their instrument and expertise level after they turn learn to play mode on, and then they can use all the resources to start learning.
I made sure users would have access to tabs/chords, video tutorials, and forums as I found from my research/ interviews that they are the most preferred ways to learn music.
I turned my sketches into these lo-fi wireframes in Figma to get a better feel for how these new screens would look and how each screen would interact with each other.
Usability Testing + Problems and solutions
My usability testing participants showed me what I needed to work on. I had trouble understanding how this feature would fit naturally into Spotify and allow users to easily find it and put it to good use. Along with some UI problems like buttons not being consistent with Spotify’s design system, a big problem was not knowing where to find Learn to Play, so I made sure to remedy that by adding an icon for it on the homepage after the user turns on Learn to Play mode. After taking this valuable feedback into account, I was able to synthesize my paint points, successes, and solutions.
Major Design Improvements
Final designs for Spotify Learn to Play
After adding UI to my frames, I started my prototype. I wanted the user to be able to set up the learn to play feature, add a song to their learn to play list, and then start the learning process using the given resources. Using these high fidelity frames, I conducted usability testing with four participants to find confusions and pain points that I had not accounted for.
The hardest part of this project was figuring out the order of the user flow. I played around with different versions and ultimately ended up having the user turn on learn to play mode, then picking their song to add and use the resources to start the learning process. It seems like the obvious choice after the fact, but I wasn’t able to see it until after my usability testing. This project forced me to pay attention to detail like I never had before because Spotify is such a well known app that most people use on a daily basis. I am proud of this project and all of my participants expressed desire for this to be a real feature, so I feel like I accomplished the goal of creating a useful feature that the average user would be interested in.
Add feature to teach users more about music theory so they can get a better understanding of music itself
Add an accountability feature and progress reports to keep users on track with their learning
Another round of research to direct this feature toward more experienced musicians. I can see this being a musical companion for people at parties, gatherings, etc.