V MALOUF STUDIO | Design Strategist & Experience Specialist



Spring 2016. Arizona State University.

Rethinking streaming content...

When I pull up Spotify, there's always this moment when my brain poops out. I have a tremendous amount of content available to me--practically infinite--but I rarely know where to start. More often than not, I pick up where I left off, with my recently played menu. I realize that this behavior restricts me in a somewhat closed loop, rarely introducing me to brand new things. I'm also very picky. I never used Pandora because it suggests music based on style or sound, very fuzzy indicators, which, to my mind, are nearly impossible to detect with an algorithm.

Actually discovering new music on Spotify or Apple Music is a cumbersome process. It involves a bunch of scrolling, click holes, and eye straining menus. When I do it, I nearly always end up exhausted, my brain feeling oddly rubbery and misused.

Gearing up for this semester, I envisioned a way to discover music that more closely mirrors how we actually think about what we want to listen to. The resulting project has both a physical interface and an app, but the true kernel of the work is the logic of the experience. I see Mercury as a work in progress, but the track is laid. It will continue to morph and grow naturally as I return to it from time to time. In the meantime, you can check on my progress by playing with the mockup, designed for mobile devices.


I began with secondary research to validate my concept. By all accounts, streaming content is growing by leaps and bounds. An entire generation of people don't know it any other way.

My own primary research focused on music listening habits and decision-making. I wanted to better understand the thinking process that preceded selecting music.