Over the January summer break of 2020 I decided to do just that. Many people consider their music taste to be a part of their identity, and I wanted to focus in on the social aspect of connecting with others over a shared interest in similar genres, artists and songs.
The requirements for the app were simple:
I knew from the beginning that this concept should not be focused on functionality. It’s very simple to execute this app and compare some arrays of data and output a result. From the beginning, musictaste’s focus was very much about the experience of connecting with another person. Thankfully, there was an app that I could draw inspiration from which is exceptional at doing just that — Tinder.
Having taken inspiration from the matching screen of Tinder, I wanted to recreate the feeling of “matching” with a friend on a musical level. When a referrer sends their unique link to a friend, the layout places their display picture front and center and makes it personal:
“May wants to know how compatible your music tastes are…”
This followed by the simple call to action button to sign up in one click with Spotify helped musictaste spread with velocity through social groups.
In line with creating an experience of the matching process, after computing their similarities, the user isn’t immediately shown their compatibility score. They are greeted with a counter which slowly counts up to their comparability rating. This increases the novelty of the matchmaking process and builds up anticipation for the final result. To add icing on the cake, if a couple’s compatibility score is greater than 70% they are rewarded with a bunch of confetti!
The duration of the counter is tuned so that the ceremony only occurs on the first visit to the match. User feedback and analytics showed that many users revisit their matches after the initial visit, and it became annoying to have to wait for the counter to complete after they had already discovered their score.
Another fun aspect of musictaste is that the UI colours adapt to the colours of the artist photos on whatever page the user is on. Users are first shown this on their dashboard, which rotates images from their top 20 artists every minute, but these dynamic colour choices follow through the entire app, from each individual match page containing a unique combination of colours to the playlist generator.
This is all part of the experience-focused philosophy behind the app. Every visit and every match will have a distinct visual palette and coupled with the sprinkling in of some anticipation-building, it has allowed the platform to feel much larger than the few actual interactions a user can conduct.
It was important to me to also focus on the little things as well. Users can generate unique playlists with friends they match with full of music they are likely to enjoy listening to together, and a good amount of time was spent designing the playlist image generator to select nice artist photos and gradients to appear on people’s Spotify profiles. The pay off — being able to search musictaste.space on Spotify and seeing hundreds of publicly listed playlists using your artwork generator.
There’s many more little quality of life features that have taken considerable thought: local caching of match data, a full-featured playlist generator using personalized insights and a cloud-based push notification service powered by Firebase Messaging built in to the app. All provided for free, with no advertising or data selling.
I didn’t expect musictaste to get the reception that it did. It was featured on multiple online articles, shared hundreds of times on Twitter, and has now made it to almost all of the markets which Spotify operates in. At the time of writing, 1 in 400 Spotify users in the world have tried musictaste at least once. That’s crazy!
To help with the hosting fees, I opened up a Ko-fi page and the support has been incredible. I’ve been thinking a lot about where to take musictaste in the future. Obviously donations alone are not sustainable, and recently I found out that it’s possible to monestise a non-streaming app that uses the Spotify API. It seems like the next logical step.
A full SSR rewrite of musictaste has to happen first. I have heaps of new social features planned, and with time, I hope I can create a platform that fosters a community likened to that of Letterboxd. It’s a long way off, but we’ve got to start somewhere.