Project Managers at music companies struggle to coordinate approval for artist’s merchandise. The process usually requires alignment between design teams, band managers, band members, production teams, and sales. The communication is done by sending PDFs via email, printing the PDFs, circling the approved items, and then sending the PDF back. It’s a challenge for Project Managers to track progress from design to approval to production.


I was brought into this project by HM, who runs a small product development studio. In a past life HM managed big names in the music world.  He recognized an opportunity to help Project Managers with this workflow by offering a product to create items, get approval, and finalize items for print. This two-sided application enabling project managers at music labels to upload the latest merchandise design and band members to vote and comment on options.


HM brought me in as a part-time freelance designer May 2021. I was responsible for UX workflows and visual design. I also led research initiatives when applicable. Working nights and weekends, we shipped to a small beta in October 2022  and followed with an update on August 2023.


  • Project managers need to track and automate this process as they are working with hundreds of artists
  • Some art departments would upload hundreds of images per item, while some would upload a single image, the system had to quickly scale to show tens of thousands images per department
  • Tagging and sorting of these items were crucial to the workflow
  • Important to be able to visually see who voted on a certain item and which items were still pending—this alerted project managers to take action
  • Levels of technical savviness varied greatly


Project view showcasing counts of items, members, and pending notifications

Artist view with an exploration of a personalized header image (this version did not ship)

Uploading images to an item

Item view with commenting and voting counts



We worked with two music label companies to test out this product with their teams. By the end of the work users had created hundreds of projects with thousands of images. We got a good signal that these workflows improved the speed and communication of projects. Unfortunately, we did not get an extension past 2023 and had to put a pause on the work.

Below is a collection of the work we reviewed in 2023:

Updated workflow to focus on "sending to production"

Action to send an item to approved or production

Bulk actions for  images

Advanced options for sending an item to production


Talk to your users

In the beginning of the project we didn’t have access to the end users and worked through an intermediary project manager to get feedback. Without a holistic feedback loop our first iterations didn’t hit the mark. In 2023, we had the opportunity to talk directly to the end users and were able to prototype something that met their needs. We saw a huge shift in how these end users thought about how to use the product.


Early on our focus was on the band members. We wanted to make it easy to them to approve merch while on-the-go. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how it was used. Turns out the band managers were usually in charge of voting and would relay feedback on behalf of the band members.

If you can't beat 'em...

We intended to replace the email communication loop with this product, but conversations were still happening in email. We made a quick decision to allow PDFs to be exported from the app that could be shared via email. We got a lot of positive feedback from that improvement.


I had the opportunity to go a bit deeper on these workflows before we paused the work. We reimagined the interface prioritizing management and organization. If (and when) we get the chance to pick this project up again, this is the first thing I'd want to implement.

Here's a rough prototype, thanks for reading!