Creating a sustainable ecosystem and opportunity to leverage big data for independent artists around the world

10 week internship with EarCrush
Sept - Dec 2016
Psych 195B: Fieldwork in Cognitive Science 
UI, Information Architecture, Branding

I was paired with EarCrush through Fieldwork in Cognitive Science. I took apart its existing information architecture and restructured it to best fit its goal to become an independent music discovery platform. I also created design elements that modernized their visual identity.


Lack of support for independent artists around the world

As of 2015, 45% of total revenues are digital compared to 39% for physical sales. Streaming continues to be the backbone of the music community and as a result, more artists turn to digital platforms to showcase their music.

Independent artists therefore need online interfaces that allow them to consolidate their work from a variety of networks and visualize their audience. They must be able to directly message listeners, industry professionals, and artists for collaborations, discussions, and career development. They must also be able to leverage big data, utilizing its statistics to improve their performance and audience engagement.


Creating responsibility and independent tasks

Initially tasked with entirely redesigning EarCrush's user interface, I broke apart my overarching purpose into digestible goals.

  • Evaluate functional and visual design
  • Understand existing architecture and restructure
  • Create screen flows for key processes

User Needs

Understanding the needs of EarCrush’s primary users

EarCrush’s users are divided into 3 categories: industry professional, artist, and listener. Using these 3 categories, I created personas that reflected a large range of users who could potentially show interest in EarCrush. I tried to be as detailed as possible when describing their motivations for using the application.

Industry Professional
  • Connect to more professionals and artists in the area
  • Use data to support pursuit of market
  • Music and talent not limited to the U.S.
  • Increase ticket sales for managed artists

Independent Artist
  • Find a place to record
  • Find a distribution deal
  • Find a manager and booking agent
  • Track success rate through real-time data reports
  • Build a niche, fan base

  • Connect to more artists and listeners in the area
  • Seamless all-in-one social network tracking artists
  • Search for similar music interests, taste
  • Music accessibility and quality

Information Architecture

Dissecting and restructuring
existing sitemap

I explored the existing application by creating a user account and mapping out its architecture. Going through the app helped me understand what the goals of the original site were and how to preserve them during the revision process. After discovering recursive pathways from the existing application, I reduced them to their core categories and actions.

Given the high-level of capabilities that EarCrush supported, I considered the needs of the industry professional, artist, and listener. By consolidating the information architecture to better service the type of user, I was able to decrease the number of screens and account for repetitive flows. For example, the industry professional and artist would additionally have access to Statistics in order to track performance and engagement.

UI Evaluation

Making note of function and design elements of existing UI

Purple notes stood for functional design, whereas green notes stood for visual design. By annotating screens and categorizing them, I deconstructed visual elements and stripped the existing interface of noise in order to highlight specific features.


Screen Flows
The walkthrough summarizes the most important assets of EarCrush. Connect, Improve, Discover, and Reward are the four values that EarCrush aims to emphasize for their users. This presents the first phase of the onboarding process, giving an overview of the product before jumping in.
Sign Up.
Previously, all forms were fit into single screens for first time users. The steps for signing up were broken into digestible parts. Fewer forms per screen encourage users to quickly complete the process and begin exploring the application.
One of EarCrush’s goals is to compile all sources of music into one, meaning that anything published to the artist’s SoundCloud, Apple Music, Spotify, and or YouTube will be accessible through this app. A user can expect to enter an artist’s library of music and play any uploaded track regardless of which platform he or she uploaded to.
Individuals of the music community are able to instantly connect with each other through the built in messenger. The messenger will allow users to send music files, images, and links. They will also be able to begin group messages if they are interested in collaborating with others, discussing professional matters, or interacting with their audience.
EarCrush pulls details from social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and streamlines them into one feed. EarCrush also filters top performing tracks and artists using data about location, genre, and popularity from networks like Facebook and SoundCloud. Users can utilize a map to see the density of particular genres around the world and filter their search by location, genre, or charts.


Illustrating statistics
in order to inform action

Apart from designing screens for the app, these visualizations would demonstrate EarCrush's ability to leverage big data from a variety of networks. By extracting large, recorded data sets of play count, followers, like to play ratio, impression ratio, demographic, and location, EarCrush would provide the tools for industry professionals and independent artists to accurately target their audience and measure success of content.

Final Mockups


Understanding where an app has been guides its evolution

This project pushed me to further explore the tools utilized in user interaction such as information architecture and personas. I learned much more about the process of user research, its relevance to human cognition and behavior, and the power of data visualization.

I also adapted EarCrush's style guide to create a visual identity that reflected their goal to become a modernized social marketplace for the music community. These features are in the process of production.

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