Spotify goes apptastic

Adele singing Adele prevents Spotify from using her recent work

What's every self-respecting tech firm got to have these days? A platform, and apps to put on it, that's what.

Last night the music streaming service Spotify announced at a news conference in New York that it was opening up its platform so that customers could use various applications to enrich their listening experience.

Back in the summer, Facebook, which started the app trend a few years ago, announced it was integrating Spotify and other media services into its platform.

Earlier this week the streaming hi-fi hardware maker Sonos announced that it was opening up its API (Application Programming Interface) so that music services could build apps - and those already include Spotify. Everyone, it seems, is "appifying" on each other's platforms. Where will it all end?

There was a big build-up to Spotify's first ever press conference, where the founder Daniel Ek strode around the stage proclaiming his excitement, before introducing a band. All very Apple and Steve Jobs - but did the announcement quite match up to the expectations?

Spotify users will now be able to look up song lyrics, find out about gigs as they listen to their favourite artists, or share the experience through apps made by top brands like Rolling Stone. But how many people are hanging around their computers to interact with apps while their Spotify playlists are streaming around the house?

It is hard to see this as the game-changer it has been for other app platforms like Facebook and Apple.

But in London, where the New York event was relayed to a basement bar, Spotify's UK boss Chris Maples told me this was something customers had been crying out for. "We've had tons of requests from consumers - this really rounds off the experience."

But surely the key to the business is simply getting people to upgrade from the free to the premium service - so why was the arrival of apps so important? "This will encourage people to stay with the service longer and longer", he told me, "and it will stop people looking outside for other things they can't get here."

The really big moment in Spotify's short life came in the summer, when it launched in the United States. With 2.5 million paying customers, some of the questions about its long-term viability seem to have gone away. But that's made the rumblings of discontent from artists who claim they are getting pennies for hundreds of thousands of plays grow ever louder.

Some notable artists - Adele and Coldplay for instance - have kept recent albums off the service, and there is still a job to be done before the music business as a whole learns to love Spotify.

What it can now claim to be is the most impressive new technology firm to have come out of Europe in the last five years.

And with Songkick and - two firms to have emerged from London's startup scene - contributing apps to the new platform, yesterday's event was heartening evidence that European firms can work together to make a big noise in the global music industry.

Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology correspondent Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Apps are all very well - but where is the iPad app? I like Spotify, it encourages me to listen to music I wouldn't normally access, but I use airplay through my stereo and the lack of an iPad app may well make me cancel my subscription.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Something customers have been crying out for? Hmm, selective hearing perhaps as all the comments I read on the web about Spotify are requests for an iPad app. Not having one seems to be having a really negative effect on Spotify's reputation online. I left and use Deezer now instead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I'm not sold on Spotify yet, but so far it is looking like the only viable future the music/entertainment industry has. With the world's music and films (eventually) online, why on earth will we need to actually own a CD or DVD for anymore? At present however, I don't like the subscription/pricing model they have: it needs to be cheaper.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Or you could turn to the radio

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I just got to have it. I just got to have it! Why? Because John has it, or Mary has it. Every little tweak brings renewed sales.
    Imagine all the time spent on these apps.
    Imagine the impact on standard music producers - like DVDs.
    Imagine all this time could be spent on learning a viable trade or occupation.


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