I discovered Resonate back in April or so, and since then I’ve used the Stream2own Player a lot.
Despite being a beta platform, I’ve always been really impressed with a lot of aspects about the player, and overall the design and aesthetic are really slick.
And I think we can get more out of the current player and make it a better user experience without having to make big changes.
One of the key peculiarities of using the Stream2own player are “Favorites”. I feel that in order to get the best user experience out of the Player, a user has to actually repurpose their Favorites section into a sort of bookmarking tool (and certainly, this likely was the intent behind it).
I don’t use Favorites in order to show my appreciation and respect for songs, or to single out the “best” track by an artist. I use Favorites to bookmark things and create “landmarks” inside the Player. Find a particular label you like? Favorite a key song so you can get back to it from one of their artists you like best. Find a great album? Favorite the first track so you can find your way back to it.
Without a full-featured library system inside the Player, and without a robust search engine, the main tool you have for mapping your journey through the Resonate catalog is this Favorites section. You “Favorite” things to create landmarks – to create beacons – which can guide you back to particular regions of the Resonate catalog. It’s your own personal map of Resonate.
When it comes to Favorites inside of Resonate, your real Favorites are clearly the songs you’ve listened to enough to now own, so if anything, those tracks should get the spotlight that “Favorites” suggests.
So, here’s the problem – what happens to the Top Favorites section if users aren’t favoriting all of their favorites, but are rather using the feature to bookmark things? Well, Top Favorites ends up being a pretty random playlist of tracks.
Worse, users don’t have much of an incentive to change their Favorites. More often, I remove a few to minimize the number of pages I have to flip through while trying to, say, remember the name of an artist I recently favorited and want to find again.
We end up with a section, Top Favorites, that has very limited usefulness for music discovery. These tracks essentially have never changed in my time using the platform, so this prime real estate in the Player ends up quite arbitrary. And it also doesn’t reflect artist or track popularity since users are disincentivized to Favorite every single track they like (to do so would lessen the usefulness of Favoriting as a bookmarking tool).
I think we could get a lot more out of the current Player by leaning into this imagery I’ve been seeding bit by bit into this little essay. What if – in the current absence of robust features – we invested in imagination and atmosphere? If the platform doesn’t really have search and library tools, what if we rewarded more the spirit of those users who like the idea of exploring the uncharted terrain?
What if instead of “picking favorites" you instead “placed beacons”? Rather than opening up your “Favorites” list, you would open up your “Beacons” list.
What if instead of “Random”, it was called “Wander”? Same result: a bunch of random tracks, but with a heck of a lot more magic to it.
And what if instead of “Top Favorites”, that space on the player would instead generate a random selection of beaconed tracks across users?
To click “Wander” generates a random list of potentially undiscovered songs – per the name, setting out into unknown.
To click “Find Beacons” generates get a random list of discovered songs – songs discovered and beaconed by other users. Like markings onto our collective Map of Resonate – you can follow those beacons to find new things.
This one change from the Top Favorites section to the Find Beacons section would be a dramatic shift in music discovery on Resonate, and the imagery is a lot more collaborative rather than competitive.
A LOT FROM A LITTLE
This platform is a bold project, with big dreams and a lot to do. We spend a lot of worthy time thinking of future big upgrades and features, but I challenge us as well to think of how we can get more out of what we have. To foster this spirit of exploration and cartography, and see if imagination and atmosphere can fill in some of the current gaps until the real upgrades arrive.
This whole idea, and the particular terms I’ve pitched, are obviously up for discussion. If you like these ideas and want to add to this vision, please share your own names and ideas, and share too about your own experience using the Player!
I’d love to chat more together on this theme broadly, and see where the conversation takes us.