Playlister-follow prototype

Published on 17 May 2015

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A few months ago my team at work all had a go at making a radio using the prototyping platform we've been building. The idea was to use the platform to understand it from a new angle, in order to improve it and to guide further development. We also wanted to have some prototypes to show the range of things you could do with radiodan.

The results are all on the Showcase section of the site.

My prototype

I really like the BBC Playlister service, a way to add tracks you like from across the BBC. I use it but more interestingly so do presenters, meaning you can find the latest tracks from them on their pages. For example, I listen to Tom Ravenscroft every week and so I can see what he likes via his playlist.

But, I wanted something a bit more "lean-back" than going to his playlist to see what's new. The prototype simply grabs the latest tracks from a playlist and starts playing them back via Spotify.

I made an ultra-simple web interface for it, this could be automatically populated from the playlists you are following on Playlister.

I also made a quick physical interface to it, so you could have ultra-quick access to the playlists you love.

The process

Richard Pope published an excellent process for prototyping new projects. I started off following it and have included the notes brlow.

Know your history

Examples of published playlists of tracks by presenters/DJs/artists.


Web lists:

(vs. Soundcloud which is more about continuous, mixed audio streams)

Connect to your friends to browse and play their libraries, playlists and stations - or just listen along to whatever they are playing. See and hear what is new and loved across your network. Drop songs to share with your friends - or better yet check your inbox to listen to everything that's been shared with you.

Listen to your Twitter Timeline, Lists, Searches or any Trending Topic, mixed with your Favorite Music!

Some sort of social-radio-as-a-service for US local stations:

My Social Radio is the Internet's premier online radio station that mixes the very best music, social media experiences together with the ability to win more prizes.

Read the legislation

Hmm, probably loads about re-broadcasting music and rights. The BBC only ever plays 30 sec clips, but by using something like Spotify you ensure that the user is paying for access.

A few services that allow you to play across services (Tomahawk is a desktop app) and which is a mobile app.

Draw the thing

View postcard on Flickr

Understand the state of technology

No Playlister HTTP API to get raw data. How to link tracks between Playlister and Spotify.

Seek out metaphors

"Listening to a presenter's tastes without the chat".
"Following a presenter on the bus with their headphones on too loud. But not annoying."

Keep notes, share notes

Keep a list of user needs

  • Specify a BBC presenter whose playlist I'd like to follow.
  • When that presenter is selected, play me tracks from their playlist.
  • Prefer newest tracks. (?)
  • Randomise tracks

Sketch in code

See the video above.

Get a prototype in front of real users

Showed it to some people in the office. I think the physical interface is problematic because the end-user must update the stickers and labels themselves. Have such a dedicated interface for this is probably overkill.

Throw your prototype away

Well, it was made of cardboard :-)