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Spotify to Become More Content Rich With App Layer

Open platform launches with apps from Last.fm, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork

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Spotify will open its API to third-party app developers, adding a layer of content to its music-streaming service, the company announced today.

The move comes in response, in part, to criticism that Spotify doesn’t provide enough curation and guidance to users compared with digital-steaming competitors like Pandora, MOG, or Radical.fm.

“Everyone’s had the experience of ‘What should I listen to?,’” said David Goodman, president of CBS Interactive Music Group, which owns Spotify app partner Last.fm. Opening the platform should change that.

Spotify CEO and founder Daniel Ek said the company’s core mission is to make all music available instantly. However, in regard to requests for new features from users, “there's really only so much that Spotify itself can do” without third-party apps, he said.

Spotify’s new apps provide a layer of content to the service’s search-centered program. Editorial apps like those of Rolling Stone, Billboard, Fuse, The Guardian, Gaffa, and Pitchfork allow users to stream music mentioned in editorial content such as reviews and top 10 lists.

Other apps are from music recommendation engines like Moodagent, We Are Hunted, and Last.fm. Songkick tracks concert and festivals of artists you listen to on Spotify. The API is open to all developers, but the service will approve of apps before publishing; no revenue sharing or payment arrangement has been made between developers and Spotify.

Ek delivered the news to a crowd of reporters at a New York West Village art gallery while model waiters served haute doughnuts and thumb-size cinnamon rolls. Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner joined Ek on stage, calling Spotify “the ultimate jukebox.” New York indie band Fun performed.

Founded in Sweden in 2009, Spotify launched to great anticipation in the U.S. late this year. It has amassed 10 million users in 12 countries, 2.5 million of whom pay a monthly subscription fee to stream unlimited music with no advertisements. Nonsubscribers stream unlimited music with advertisements for the first six months; afterwards, usage is limited to 10 hours of streaming per month.

The app layer is available gratis, and paid desktop users will not be integrated on mobile devices immediately, Ek said.

Spotify was among several music-streaming companies to launch deep Facebook integration early this year. While much of its revenue comes in the form of subscriptions, the company recently hired Jeff Levick, a former AOL exec, to lead ad sales.