Spotify’s Loud & Clear platform by SJR explains how artists get paid

Aiming to avoid being “just another infographic,” the project blends graphic and UX design with illustration and animation, to present a complex topic in a digestible, engaging way.

Date
26 April 2021
Reading Time
3 minute read

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Off the back of much debate surrounding Spotify’s payment of its artists, the company recently launched Loud & Clear, a digital resource to explain in detail just how streaming economics work. To make this complex subject as engaging, digestible and (most importantly) clear as possible, Spotify turned to agency SJR, which set out to avoid making “just another infographic,” says creative lead Joelle McKenna. Infographics such as this can often be “linear, long and dry,” she adds. So this mixed media project aimed to balance easily navigable yet innovative graphic and UX design with vibrant animation, plus as 2D and 3D illustrations, to encourage users to spend more time there and explore the information – which had never before been published.

The resource contains a lot of data, some of it technical and complicated, so in order to visually translate it the SJR team first had to understand it properly themselves. “Educational resources can often feel daunting,” McKenna tells It’s Nice That, “like a white paper or textbook with lots of terminology. We wanted the user to explore a broad and deep course of information without feeling fatigued. We tried to create moments of energy, movement and interactivity at every phase of learning.” They also had to consider two types of reader: those looking for a specific answer and those exploring the information for the first time.

As such, the content is broken down into digestible modules, some brought to life with animations, illustrations and charts, others more straightforwardly presented, such as the FAQ section. Each module has multiple points of entry for accessing that information, McKenna explains. There’s a dashboard at the top of the page, collating all the modules, which click through to another section of the page expanding on that subject. Every one uses its design to make that content more engaging and stand out, such as the bubbles of data exploring Spotify’s revenue, which McKenna says echew the “traditional linear chart” in favour of a “cluster of responsive spheres that organically react to mouse movement using a physics engine,” which users can click on to read a breakdown of that data. Or there's the section that explores different artist types on Spotify,  presented as a vertically scrolling line-up of illustrated portraits. These, McKenna says, “represent the spirit of each archetype,” and “push perspective, proportions and contrast of shading to feel mythic and luminous”. All this was built by Chelsea Peterson, Sebastian Longhitano, Christophe Marchand and Catherine Choi.

In another module about how money gets split between various parties, SJR created an animation titled How the Money Flows, which visualises a complex topic through bold, gel-lit 3D rendered objects and text. This was created by Cindy Suen, Magnus Atom, Alex Esquerdeiro and Luke Maroldii.

Keeping in mind the fundamental goal of transparency, clarity and illuminating information, colour palette was key. “It needed to be clean and airy but still energising,” says McKenna, explaining how they opted for a spectrum of blues ranging from ultramarine to turquoise, punctuated by high contrast moments of black and white. The final result, she describes, is the “digital embodiment of the words ‘loud’ and ‘clear’”.

SJR: Loud & Clear for Spotify (Copyright © Spotify, 2021)

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SJR: Loud & Clear for Spotify (Copyright © Spotify, 2021)

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SJR: Loud & Clear for Spotify (Copyright © Spotify, 2021)

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SJR: Loud & Clear for Spotify (Copyright © Spotify, 2021)

SJR: Loud & Clear for Spotify (Copyright © Spotify, 2021)

SJR: Loud & Clear for Spotify (Copyright © Spotify, 2021)

SJR: Loud & Clear for Spotify (Copyright © Spotify, 2021)

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SJR: Loud & Clear for Spotify (Copyright © Spotify, 2021)

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, now overseeing the website’s daily editorial output. Contact her with stories, pitches and tips relating to the creative industries on jb@itsnicethat.com.

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