Scheduled Playlists with Spotify

A feature to match music to your daily rhythm, either by yourself or with your favorite friends and artists.


This is a new feature proposal for Spotify called "Scheduled Playlists". With this feature, you can schedule any playlist to play at specific times of the day and join other live public playlists made by favorite artists and friends.


8 weeks (Oct—Dec 2020)


Solo project: Ideation, user research, interaction and experience design, prototyping, information architecture

The Problem

The social disruption caused by COVID-19 has increased levels of loneliness and depression, especially in young adults.

Research has found that there has been an increase in depression among young adults (aged 18-23) during the pandemic, with loneliness accounting for much of this increase. Per the Journal of Adolescent Health, targeting loneliness is warranted given this may have important downstream effects on mental health.

Remote work is here to stay on a semi-permanent basis, and it is blurring the boundaries between work and personal life.

The surge in remote work brought on by COVID-19 has blurred work-life balance, creating the dilemma of when exactly work time begins and ends. The shared work and play environments have disrupted existing lifestyles and daily habits by erasing prior environmental cues tied to our habits.

The Opportunities

Despite the problems posed by social distancing and the pandemic, there are still opportunities created by the current circumstances.

People are online now more than ever.

Are there more ways to feel other’s presence besides intentional virtual hangouts?

With more time spent indoors, we are presented with the opportunity to reimagine our relationships with music.

What type of role can music play in our lives during this time?

More people now have access to a private work space, allowing freedom and control over their environments, including what they listen to.

How can we use music to reinforce current or build new habits as a means to adapt to our new environments in the context of COVID-19?

The Solution

Design Process

Problem Discovery

Defined jobs to be done.

I started off my defining Spotify's jobs to be done, main one being allowing users to listen to music. Some secondary jobs are categorizing songs into playlists or albums, and sharing or discovering music or podcasts through its AI-based algorithm or friend suggestions.

App audit , competitive analysis, & diagramming user flows

To further discover problems to solve for, I conducted a heuristic analysis of Spotify and a competitive analysis on other music streaming apps such as Apple Music, Youtube Music, and Amazon Music. Finally, I outlined the user flows for each of the jobs to be done to map out areas of opportunity.

Generative Interviews

I conducted eight generative interviews with Spotify users and non-users, with the purpose of understanding user pain points and desired improvements or features.

“ I always play the same playlist while driving, and when I hear this specific part of the song I know it’s time to change lanes”—Interviewee

Research on habit forming

After hearing the above quote from an interviewee, I started thinking more about the emotional, social, and functional jobs of Spotify. I became highly interested the relationship between music and habits, and so I read Atomic Habits by James Clear to learn more about habit forming and cues that lead to habits.

Survey on habit forming

With the insights I gathered from the book, I created a survey with the purpose of evaluating common cues and exploring motivation rituals for building habits. I also asked people to rate their individual habits to get a look at current behaviors and areas for which music could play a role. Lastly, I asked about apps used to maintain/build habits and also asked about the alarm app to determine whether I wanted to use this framework.

Analyzing survey findings

I gathered survey results from 13 individuals and made sense of my findings by looking for data trends and organizing the information in affinity maps.

Main Insights from Research

Music can be a motivation ritual.

Some already use or imagine music as part of their motivation ritual for habit making because it is a pleasant, non-aggressive reminder.

Independence vs. Accountability

There are two main divergent preferences in habit making: some prefer accountability from humans whereas others prefer approaching it independently.

Users are interested in the social spaces of music

Due to social distancing and isolation, interest in livestream events, especially in music, has increased among Spotify users.

Design & Ideation

To start off my design phase, I:

Created user personas to define primary & secondary use cases,

And turned sketches into lo-fi wireframes.


Prior to user testing, I wanted to see whether the new feature ideas could be imagined in the context of the existing app, so I increased the fidelity of my designs from lo-fi to mid-fi. I then prototyped my two solution ideas:

Solution Idea 1

Music Alarm

Users will want to freely choose their own songs or playlists and set them to play at their designated times of the day. This allows for user independence and variety, while creating an automatic environmental cue that may be used for habit forming.

Solution Idea 2

Live Sessions

Users will want to view curated songs or playlists that will play at set times, and sign up for them as they wish. This reduces decision-making but also increases accountability as a user can join a playlist that is being listened to by others at the same time.

User Testing


  1. First Round: Nine interviews (male & female Spotify users working in tech, healthcare, law, and design, ages 23-33)
  2. Second Round (after iterating): Three interviews with 1 new, 2 repeat interviewees

Goals were to:

  1. Explore reactions to my two divergent ideas.
  2. Understand user behaviors in the context of music and habit forming & socializing.
  3. Determine usability issues to fix in order to increase satisfaction with the feature

View testing script


Information Architecture

One challenge I ran into at this stage of the process was validating where to locate this feature—both visually and architecturally—in the mobile app. I initially had included the feature under the playlists section of the app in "Your Library", but I realized that this feature should be more discoverable from the homepage and should also have a distinction from other playlists.

After deliberation and feedback, I added a section for "Scheduled Playlists" in between the Playlists and Artists tabs and made the schedule accessible through both the homepage and "Your Library". Though I made this feature exist under the music category for this project, it may need to fall under a larger umbrella if it hypothetically were to be used for podcasts as well.

Insight 1:

Joining live playlists with friends felt more exciting than scheduling one by oneself...

Insight 2:

...but creating one’s own schedule seemed more practical

Insight 3:

Make it social... but not too social


Why would Spotify want this?

  1. It allows creators to feel more connected to their following and vice versa.
  2. The input of human-based recommendations into an algorithm-based app could strengthen business-consumer relationships, potentially attracting more customers to Spotify.

Reflections & Next Steps

Social isolation is difficult and there is no substitute for human connection

This feature idea is only one positive way to approach the problem space of making up for the lack of physical human connection, and is in no way a replacement for such connection. Having music to match your daily habits and sharing these moments with others may be effective for some, but it cannot replace human cues, which are often the littlest things, such as morning coffee runs or exchanged glances with coworkers at the end of the work day.

Things I would like to improve:

My current proposed feature is a combination of multiple smaller features. If I had more time with this project, I would want to narrow down my ambitions by going more in depth into one or two main features, and nailing down the experience and visual language. I would also like to further explore the information architecture to make sure that this feature is placed under the most intuitive information categories.