Transforming Korea's top music streaming service into a holistic music experience

Melon

Research and Strategy
UX Design
Visual Design

From music tool to connected platform

With over 2.6 million monthly active subscription-paying users, Melon is the #1 music streaming service in South Korea. Melon is owned and operated by Loen Entertainment, a vertically integrated music label and service provider. Loen approached us with a vision to push Melon beyond a music streaming tool into a holistic music and lifestyle experience.

We helped Loen achieve this vision through a series of strategic user research and design projects spanning over a year and half. Our partnership resulted in a complete redesign of the Melon brand identity and a ground-up, user-centered redesign of their mobile experience and interface.

Loen took ownership of our outputs and successfully launched the newly designed brand and mobile experiences. This design language has remained since 2016.

Put music and artists first

Based on insights from a series of user interviews and internal workshops with executives at Loen, we developed a strategic road map for Melon's brand and UX renewal.

We heard that users wanted the basic music experience--listening to music, watching content, and managing content--to improve before the platform integrated new content, features, or services. "Music and artists first" became one of our 6 driving design principles that guided our design decisions. Loen's strategic vision, however, was to serve people broader content such as artist related news, concert tickets, and artist fan communities. We helped Loen address this tension in a way that met user needs and allowed for the integration of new features over time.

Iterate to improve

From the first few weeks of the user experience redesign to the private beta launch, we evolved and refined Melon through multiple rounds of prototyping and testing. For each iteration we recruited target users, identified key assumptions and questions, and received feedback on our designs. In later-stage user tests, we brought fully interactive prototypes, which helped us uncover usability issues around playing, finding and managing music.

Our tests and iterations helped us improve the product in 5 different ways. We: 

- Simplified the information architecture and feature organization
- Improved music playback and overall usability
- Increased the connectivity between artists and artist-related content
- Created a modular and consistent system of UI components
- Balanced content personalization and platform curation

Seamlessly connected music platform

As a result of our collaboration, Loen successfully launched the updated Melon brand and new mobile experience to millions of users in the Korean market. More than 85% of users from the beta service rated the new mobile app as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. Users found that the new UX made it easier to manage music, get accurate personal recommendations, and intuitively browse for new content. The new UX also gives users a more natural way to discover and connect with both artist-related content and other fans.

After our engagement Loen Entertainment was acquired by Kakao, one of the leading tech platforms in Korea. Melon continues to bring significant revenue and profit after the acquisition.