A music mobile application of Seattle Public Library that allows users to discover Seattle local music and musical events in order to enrich the bond between musicians and the general public.

2 Weeks
Erfan Dastournejad
Beijia Wang
UI/UX Design


Playback is an online music platform of Seattle Public Library. Every year Seattle musicians will submit their albums to Playback. The jury in Playback will select 100 best albums and put them on the platform for users to free stream and download local music. The goal for Playback is to connect local musicians with the general public.

However, through the research, we found that there is limited use of the service; out of 379,222 Seattle Public Library cardholders, there are only 2729 downloads from the platform. Therefore, we came up with a “How Might We” statement:

How might we improve the Playback service to make the experience of discovering local music more interesting and engaging?


Design Process

Primary Research

Interview with Librarians

“I think Playback is great, through which I can get to know more local music. But personally, I use Spotify more just because it is more convenient.”

Librarian 1
Librarian 2


1. It is inconvenient for people to use Playback since it could only be accessed through the web application.

2. The redesign of Playback should be in the form of a mobile application so that users can access it more conveniently.

Interview with the Playback Project Lead

“… locally, you know, it's just people get excited to see national acts, but they aren't as excited to see local music.”

“(Local) artists have no problem giving their work out there; the problem is to distinguish themselves with the other artists.”

Playback Project Lead


1. The public should be involved in the album selection process, voting for the albums they like to increase public interests and participation.  

2. The music discovery experience should be interesting and engaging.
3. The app should recommend music to users based on their preferences.
4. There should be some kinds of reward systems such as badges or free tickets to give users incentives to use the app.  

5. There should be a distinguishment between the musician whose album has been selected as the best 100 albums from the other musicians.

Interview with Local Music Listeners

“ I have some favorite local artists, but I have trouble finding their local performance information.”

“Spotify is like a hot pot, it has everything. I need to establish my own music taste before using its suggestions, which makes finding new singers more difficult. ”


1. There is a lack of connection between the local musicians and the event they are holding

2. The Playback Redesign should not only have music but also include artists' information and local musical events.

Secondary Research


Before the redesign, it is important for us to acknowledge our stakeholders and their value propositions so that the redesign could better align with their needs.

Design Goals


Make the Playback service more accessible and easy to use to strengthen the bond between local musicians and the public.


Motivate the public to be more interested in and engaged with the local music.


Increase local musicians' publicity and promote their works within the community.


Make sure our redesign aligns with Seattle Public Library and Rabble (host of Playback)'s business goals.

First Iteration

In our first iteration, we positioned the app as both a music listening app and an event listing app. We added many features, such as music shuffling, event forums, etc. to enrich the experience for both sides. However, through user testings, we realized that too many features made the information architecture of the app too complicated for users to use.

Final Design

Therefore, for the final version, we condensed the information architecture into three main categories: discover, events, and liked. We wanted the user to have two types of experience: Discovery and Immersive.

Download the App

SPL cardholders need to download Playback from the App Store.


SPL cardholders use their library cards to activate their Playback accounts and set up music their preferences.

Music Discovery

A playful experience for users to explore local music. Users can dislike or like the recommended music. If users don't like the song, the system will learn their tastes and will not recommend similar music. If users like the song, they can vote for the song by clicking the like icon.

More Info About the Song

Users select the album to listen the song in a more immersive way. They can see the artist's info, his/her albums, and related events. The star in front of the artist's name indicates this artist's album has been selected as the best 100 albums of the year, serving as a recognition to the artist.


An exploratory way for users to discover more local music events, especially the ones hosted by Seattle Public Library. Users can also search and filter the events based on their preferences.


Users can access their liked songs, events, and followed artists. They can also receive different badges based on their accomplishment.


Design for Musicians

Due to the time constraint, we only design Playback for the general public. However, since local musicians are also one of our stakeholders, it is important to consider enabling musicians to upload their own works to enter the Playback competition, as well as posting their music events on the platform.

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