In an age of algorithms and auto-generated playlists, the personal touch of sharing music has been lost. Most music sharing apps emphasize collaboration, but don’t have features to let users express the thoughts and feelings that went into creating a playlist, which is a deeply personal process.
Mixtape, an app concept I created for a Dash Careers design challenge, seeks to put the “social” back in social playlist creation and sharing.
For this design challenge, I was tasked with designing a social playlist sharing app and given ~1 week to complete it. The following scenario and guidelines were given:
Everyone loves sharing music with friends. No matter how good an algorithm gets, your friends know your music taste best! You are tasked with designing an app for creating playlists and sharing them with friends.
Present 3-6 polished visual designs of screens from the playlist app.
Screens could include:
- A playlist screen with a unique header, a description, and a list of songs
- A profile page with a profile picture, username, bio, and favourite artists listed
- A feed screen with all of the music that your friends are listening to
- A comment section below a playlist for friends to leave each other comments
- A song screen with one song playing and the next songs queued up
- A discover page to discover new playlists shared publicly on the app
Say it Your Way
"There's something to be said about the physical labor of love that is recording a custom cassette or burning a CD for someone."
I'm a 90's kid, and one thing I miss the most about that era is the more personal, physical nature of music. I lived through the transition from cassette tapes to CDs and from CDs to MP3s, and while I love the convenience of sharing music via playlists on streaming platforms, there's something to be said about the physical labor of love that is recording a custom cassette or burning a CD for someone.
I wanted to recreate that personal feeling with Mixtape by giving users plenty of opportunities to personalize their playlists. Right off the bat, I had the idea of allowing users to include recordings of their commentary about a playlist — an intro, interlude, and outro that explains why they chose the songs they did, the feelings or thoughts they were trying to convey with the playlist, etc.
It also has the added benefit of serving as a sort of time capsule for users; a snapshot of what they were listening to and how they felt about it at the time.
Get the Final Word
"I've lost count of the number of times I've listened to a shared playlist and thought, 'Why did they pick this song?'"
Additionally, I wanted to give users the ability to share their thoughts on specific songs. Another thing I miss from the era of tapes and CDs is the liner notes left for fans by the artist. As fans, we're bound to be curious about what went into the creative process of our favorite artists, and that's exactly what spawned my idea for the liner notes feature. I've lost count of the number of times I've listened to a shared playlist and thought, "Why did they pick this song?"
With Liner Notes, a playlist creator can answer that question for listeners by adding additional context for each song they add to a playlist. To access this, listeners simply scroll up from the Now Playing screen.
Show All Your Sides
"As fans, we're bound to be curious about what went into the creative process of our favorite artists."
Call me nostalgic, but another thing I missed about physical music was the different "sides" of a cassette. Each had their own vibe and sound, and I wanted to give users the ability to recreate that as well. Giving Mixtapes "sides" also fit hand-in-hand with the users' ability to record intros, interludes, and outros that would automatically play when listeners started the playlist.
But of course, the best part of sharing music with friends is talking about it with them! That's why I included a comment section on each mixtape so users can have a conversation with all their listeners.
Get the 411 on Your Friends
"One minute you think a friend's taste is impeccable, and the next you think it's trash."
It's also why I created a simple Feed screen that serves as the homepage of the app. Here, users can engage with what their friends are listening to — and judge them, if necessary. One of the most fun parts about social music sharing is the surprise of seeing just what your friends are listening to. One minute you think a friend's taste is impeccable, the next you think it's trash.
Just kidding. We all have our guilty pleasures, right? So let your Spice Girls fan flag fly!
Show Your Personality
"There are few more euphoric feelings on Earth than finding someone who just gets your taste in music and feeds you more of exactly what you like."
It's called a social app for a reason, so a profile was a must. Users can follow tastemakers they love, view their mixtapes, and discover great new music. That's what it's all about! There are few more euphoric feelings on Earth than finding someone who just gets your taste in music and feeds you more of exactly what you like — especially when it's coming from someone you care about.
Besides, who could really say no to another opportunity to gather clout online?
All Your Mixtapes in One Place
"There's nothing worse than losing a playlist you love. It's like getting a giant scratch on your favorite CD; you can remember exactly what it sounds like, but you'll never hear it the same way again."
Whether they're creating their own playlists or following those others have created, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for users to find their favorite mixtapes — because there's nothing worse than losing a playlist you love. It's like getting a giant scratch on your favorite CD; you can remember exactly what it sounds like, but you'll never hear it the same way again.
Thanks for reading!
I had so much fun falling down this nostalgic rabbit hole and getting to revisit the music and memories of my childhood through it. While it might be a bit too high concept for the masses, I think I really nailed the 90's aesthetic I was going for, and getting to experiment with that era of design was a blast from the past.