Spotify Song Dedications

Enhancing the Social Experiences of Music Lovers without ever leaving the app


UX Design and Research


4 Week Design Challenge, Feb-Mar 2023

Choosing a path

I use Spotify every day, and I wanted to test my design skills by adding a feature to this application I was so familiar with.  While my other case studies might flex my visual design creativity, I wanted to challenge myself with a design that needed to fit within an existing system’s constraints.

When it came to deciding on a direction for a potential feature, I let the users inspire me and looked at the Spotify forums for suggested features.  I found this one, requesting a feature to dedicate a song with someone.

Hypothesizing a Problem to Solve

“Why can’t I share music directly with my friends and family who are already on Spotify?”

I wondered where this feature request might come from, what needs Spotify wasn’t meeting that might make users want this feature.

Spotify lacks internal music sharing. Users share music externally by text, social media, ect. The app’s social features rarely get used.

Streaming platforms are replacing radio, diminishing shared human experience that existed between radio hosts and listeners.

I wanted to see if Song Dedications could rekindle human connection and boost social use of Spotify.

Learning through empathy

I interviewed five Spotify users to learn about their music-sharing habits, their thoughts on Spotify’s social features, and what they thought about song dedications themselves in order to confirm this would be a feature users would use and enjoy.

“I share music all the time! It’s my love language. I want my friends to feel the emotions I did when I heard the song.”

User Interview Insights

  • Users share music as an expression of love to connect with others through the song.
  • The public’s awareness of a song dedication makes it more special for both the sender and the receiver.
    • This was a particularly interesting insight I decided to research further. Here’s what I found:
    • Public displays of affection can serve as a signal of commitment and intimacy in romantic relationships (Floyd & Mikkelson, 2006). Similarly, public expressions of gratitude have been found to be more impactful than private expressions because they allow the recipient to feel recognized and valued by a wider audience (Grant & Gino, 2010). 
  • Users think Spotify’s desktop Friend Activity feed is so uselessness, they barely interact with it at all.

Ideating Seamless Solutions

After talking with some Spotify users, I concluded that this feature would not only be a useful internal music sharing tool, but add delight to the Spotify experience by connecting users on an emotional level through songs.

Based on my research, I decided to give the design a shot.

“How might I create a shared experience between Spotify friends to foster their connections on and off the app?”

First, Taking a closer look at Spotify

I went through all the relevant Spotify pages I thought may be applicable to this feature, or help me design how certain parts of it might look or operate.

Then, Sketching with Spotify’s Design

I examined Spotify’s design and sketched ideas for incorporating song dedications into the existing system.

Finally, Mapping the User Journey

After sketching ideas for the feature, I mapped out the user’s flow for creating and receiving song dedications.

A Feature that Connects Listeners

I created a Song Dedication feature on Spotify that would allow users to not only share music internally on the app, but allow them to make their friends feel special.

A Feature that Connects Listeners

I created a Song Dedication feature on Spotify that would allow users to not only share music internally on the app, but allow them to make their friends feel special.

Dedicating a Song to a Friend

Users can dedicate a song to a friend from the song options while they’re listening, or from the song options they accessed from a library.

Utilizing the Homepage Alerts

To notify users of new song dedications, I placed them under the What’s New alerts page, where users can immediately see options to Play and Thank their friend for the dedication.  

My hope is that this has people checking their notifications more often when they open Spotify.

All Your Dedications in a Playlist

I created a playlist for users to refer back to all their song dedications and their sender.

The dedicator’s profile icon is visible to the right of the song title, similar to how collaborative playlists show who added which song.  

Users can also thank their friends for the song dedication from the playlist by accessing the song’s options.  I chose to hide this in the options because collaborative playlists do similarly with the “heart” / save option.  

This makes sense in hierarchal terms: users will want to always remember who dedicated a song to them, but would only interact with the Thank your friend and Save features once.

Revitalizing the Friend Activity desktop feature

Users found the Friend Activity feed useless and outdated, so I added song dedications above Recently Played (which, really needs to get updated to real time more often?) to increase visibility and create a sense of connection between friends.

Iterations based on Testing

I did a simple usability test of the features, including dedicating a song to a friend, finding song dedications in the What’s New page, and using the Dedications playlist to Thank a friend.

Usability testing yielded amazing results. Users could interact with the features easily, or at least within a few tries, and thought this feature could breathe new life into the Friend Activity Feed and get users to check their Spotify Alerts daily!

Based on a user’s recommendation, I tried using a “Prayer Hands” icon in place of the “Thumbs Up” icon for Thanking a Friend for their Dedication, but went back to the Thumbs Up, as it seemed more clear, and more secular for an app like Spotify.

The most important iteration included adding a button to help users find and add friends during the song dedication flow, addressing their concerns about not being able to locate non-Spotify friends.

A button within this flow would not disrupt the dedication process, and could open the app up to recieving more new users if their friends are trying to dedicate a song to them.

Wrapping it all up

I believe my solution promotes human connection in an increasingly insular, lonely world. Technology should enhance, not inhibit, the ability for humans to connect socially. Music can be an especially powerful connector, allowing people to share the experience of a song, with all its emotional context.

Dedicating a Song on Spotify would not only bring more connection and joy to users, but create a pro-social culture within the app itself.

With proper roll out like modals to introduce the users to this feature, Song Dedications could revitalize Spotify’s social culture, and make users eager to open the app to see what dedications wait for them today.

“I love this feature, and I’d be so much more excited to open Spotify if I could see connections with my friends through music like this.”