Search Mindsets: Understanding Focused and Non-Focused Information Needs in Music Search


Music listening is a commonplace activity that has transformed as users engage with online streaming platforms. When presented with anytime, anywhere access to a vast catalog of music, users face challenges in searching for what they want to hear. We propose that users who engage in domain-specific search (e.g., music search) have different information-seeking needs than in general search. Using a mixed-method approach that combines a large-scale user survey with behavior data analyses, we describe the construct of search mindset on a leading online streaming music platform and then investigate two types of search mindsets: focused, where a user is looking for one thing in particular, and non-focused, where a user is open to different results. Our results reveal that searches in the music domain are more likely to be focused than non-focused. In addition, users’ behavior (e.g., clicks, streams, querying, etc.) on a music search system is influenced by their search mindset. Finally, we propose design implications for music search systems to best support their users.


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