The Sketch is the Way
The main pain points for listeners, identified from research and projected personas, is the ability to navigate, go back to existing playlists, and to discover more music.
Based on the listeners needs, I identified three areas to focus on: (1) clear navigation and browsing; (2) different methods for saving music vs. ear-marking tracks to investigate later; (3) layout was simultaneously busy but inefficient, with too much space to cover to do any actions.
To solve these issues, I created sketches, using trace paper to easily sketch ideas, which allows me to not get too focused on any one idea. Eventually, after multiple layers of trace, I moved onto paper prototyping and an early digital prototype create navigation "windows" that link to the navigation menu. The navigation menu now has clear categories, with key browsing features easy to find.
Building a new way to nav
Navigating between searching and playing was confusing to the most seasoned listener. It was impossible to listen to a playlist but pause that to investigate a new artist or album.
I created multiple "boxes" with tabs to better organize the music for the listener. What is playing or was last played is it's own nav-screen, while exploring music or "discover" is a separate screen that is adjacent to, so you can click on a feature to explore and see it open on the right without losing the original reference.
Additionally, I introduced a way to track music through marked bullets. Green means GO, which means these tracks are marked in "Your Music." But a secondary feature is an additional click, making the bullet yellow. Yellow means pause saves a track as an ongoing list to discover at a later time. This makes it so listeners can hear a song by an artist and can earmark the artist to go back and listen to later.

Overall look at the hi-fi prototype

Friends Help you Find
Finally, Spotify has a social component, but it was not interactive, did not update, and did not help listeners to find music via their friends. All listeners I interviewed found music through their friends or influencers. This feature needed to be developed to help listeners find new, fresh music.
I had to take another deep dive into the third social-nav box.
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