Dropbox Stream Logo

Dropbox Stream

  • Role: UX, Visual Design
  • Client: Senior UX Course
  • Team: Naheel Jawaid, Kae Ngo, Samantha Slinn, Chris Samuel, Cheryl Chan
  • Year: 2015

Reimagining the artist-fan relationship.

What if MPR3's were living music files, and you could see the evolution of a song?

This question came out of the insight that the music industry going through rapid changes, where musicians are increasingly putting out in-process versions of songs and releasing revisions to older songs via social media and live performances.

We thought it was interesting how you get a look into the artist’s creative process in this way and wanted to leverage that existing behaviour somehow.

The Weekend Quote
Kanye Quote

Connecting the Dots

In explaining the idea internally, we used the analogy of updating public files on Dropbox.

Coupled with news of Dropbox's repositioning strategy of focusing on creators and collaborators, we realized they would be the perfect client to take this on.

Adweek quote

The Idea

Dropbox Stream is a music streaming service with a twist-living music files that can be continually updated by artists.

This is an off-shoot product that integrates with Dropbox's existing service

The idea

How it Works

How it works is the artist collaborates with other artists/producers/etc using Dropbox, which we found was already an existing behaviour.

In a special Dropbox Stream folder, only for registered artist's (similar to getting a special license for dropbox business accounts) artist’s upload and update their songs, and it publishes to dropbox Stream, where the listener can enjoy it.

How it works diagram

The User

We designed with the intentful listener in mind, the type of person who always wants to be the first to know about what their favourite artist is up to, and wants to share that knowledge with their friends, other fans.

This type of user would be the early adopter, but this could eventually change the way how the mass market listens to music as well.

By looking at this user, we came up with two product principles that we kept in mind throughout the design:

  1. Create an experience that’s the next best thing to being in the studio with the artist
  2. Get users to switch from their existing service to ours

Product Overview

Dropbox Stream Structure

In Studio

The "In Studio" page is the home newsfeed. Here, you can see the latest updates from Creators you follow and use tags on the page to discover the other artists they've collaborated with. If a user is interested in learning more about the artist they can click a tag to go to that artist’s page.

If the user doesn’t know which songs would be the best to listen to from this artist. They can click “Play Artist Picks” where it plays a few of the artist’s favourite songs to give you an introduction to them.

Smart Playlist

Apart from making custom playlists, with the Smart Playlist feature, you become the producer, generating lviing playlists by adding and adjusting influences.

Designing for Everyday Contextual Use

We wanted to consider how the experience of the app could change based on the context because we often listen to music wherever we go. We designed two features with this in mind.

The Recommended Creators Tab changes based on your location, and gives suggestions of artists from the area you might like based on what you listen to.

We also incorporated a way for users to discover what music is playing around them. So if the user hears a song in a store or bar that they like, they can simply hold the play button and the app will listen and take you to that artist's page.

Making Access to Revisions Intuitive

Because it is such a central part of the app, we wanted the user to know where to look to access revisions even if they skip all on-boarding. If the app is at all confusing, users will switch back to their old streaming service. We designed 3 different ways to access revisions based on user testing to make sure it's as intuitive as possible.

Through user testing, we found that new users looked first towards the three-dot menu to access revisions.

For repeat users a double-tap could be used as a shortcut

The Now Playing page gives a greater focus on revisions, showing all the different versions upfront.

Design to Permeate the Culture

In order to reach our target audience and compete with the big streaming services, it was essential to design for web and to think about an embeddable player that would connect people already talking about music online back to our platform.

The Artist's Side: Seamlessly Integrating Into Their Workflow

Artists publish music through a special Stream folder in their existing Dropbox service. We designed this process with a goal of making publishing revisions as simple as possible, but still secure enough to avoid unwanted leaks. We propose having Dropbox integrated into existing music production programs like Ableton, in order to make the process as seamless as possible.

Entering the Streaming Game

It's important to consider how the revenue would be split among stakeholders, to make sure that both Dropbox and the Artist benefit. We looked at the revenue models of some major music streaming services, and based our model similarly to those.

While a proper breakdown is required, we considered how the concept of revisions would affect payment models and thought of ideas such as giving higher payment for streams of revisions for a couple years to incentivize the behaviour as well as counting snippets under a minute as 1/2 streams to avoid an artist gaming the system.

Sponsored Content

One way of monetizing through meaningful sponsored content is with the recommended creator's tab. We can sell the media space to a music festival coming to a certain town, or Artists who are about to drop albums.

Freemium Model

As another source of revenue, we propose using a freemium model which offers unique features to prompt a user to upgrade to the premium version.

Offering a discounted bundle with Dropbox's existing Pro storage accounts is a possible tactic to helps convert more users.