Music is literally all around us every single day. People use it while commuting, working out, studying, working and many other activities. Even though everyone who listens to music, no matter if it is a music enthusiast or not, is always on the lookout for new music. We all have our favorite albums, songs and artists. But everyone develops and changes his music taste over time. And finding new music is always relevant. In a time where record stores and radio stations are becoming rarer and music streaming services are dominating the market, I found throughout this design process that users are being force-fed music and dictated what they are supposed to listen to. Suggested playlists are based on algorithms that analyse your music taste and are filled with artists users already know or artists that are on top of the charts anyways. According to our research and the utilisation of design probes, I was able to extract relevant problem areas and wishes from real users. With my final design concept TunePal, I am trying to answer to this demand.
As our research has shown the flood of music that is being released digitally every year is so big that finding new music that is interesting to users is like finding a needle in a haystack. During the research, we heard many voices from participants saying that finding a new song or artist through a recommendation of a friend will always add an extra touch to it rather than finding it in a computer-generated playlist. Changing the way, we share music with the people around us is the goal of TunePal. TunePal is a music community in which you suggest music to other users but also find new music through other users. It all starts with setting up a profile with a short bio about yourself and a profile picture. The next step is to grant TunePal access to connect with your music streaming services such as Spotify, YouTube and SoundCloud. After it has extracted all the relevant data it will generate a unique representation of your music taste in the form of a colour wheel around your profile picture. The colour that is framing your profile picture represents the percentages of each genre that you most listen to. Furthermore, you have six image tiles on your profile to your disposal in which you can display any interesting facts about your music habits. Do you want to show everyone about how much you listen to music? Want to show your latest find in the rock genre? You can pick yourself what the other users know about you. With these features and the creation of a profile, users will have a more personal representation of their music taste.
However, the main focus of TunePal is the personal connection between users to find and suggest new music. Just like it used to be before the age of emails some people used to have pen pals. But this is for music. You can choose between making a connection with a friend that you already have in your friends list or by finding a stranger through the search function. If you choose to find a stranger, you have two options to choose from. You can find somebody with similar music taste by letting your unique colour wheel do the work for you and find a match. Or you can change the colour wheel to a colour that you want to explore next. In case you are bored of the red wheel you have at the moment representing rock and want to explore a little bit more in the blue jazz genre. Additionally, you can include a location-based search parameter to ensure you are being put together with somebody who is from the same country or city. With this option, you might even find new friends along the way of finding new music as well. Once you and the other person have accepted and established the connection the interesting part begins. By accepting the other user as a TunePal you give him the control over your queue, and you get to control his. For a limited amount of songs that are pre-set by you two, the users get to choose what the other one listens to. The users listen to the songs in their own time and get a popup after each song that was played. The user can then decide to give this song a like or dislike. An option to discuss this song with the other user in a chat window is available and if the song was really good the user can save it in his library. When it comes to picking the right songs for the other user TunePal will help you. You search through the music databases of YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud etc. and icons next to the song will indicate if the other user has already listened to this song or if its already in his library. Each like you gather throughout your music suggestion career on TunePal will be included in your profile. Little badges will display your total amount of likes, your weekly streaming hours and the amount of positive TunePal connections you had. Positive connections are achieved by having a ratio of over 75% likes. Even though a user might have the same kind of taste according to the genres he listens to, we know that in reality there are big differences in music even within a genre. If a user thinks a connection is just not suitable anymore after a few suggested songs the connection can be cancelled. The ultimate goal of TunePal is to connect people through music and to enrichen the music libraries of the users.