Both the Spotify and the developer community were absolutely delirious when the news about libspotify, Spotify API, were released on Tuesday evening. At first.
“The libspotify C API package allows third party developers to write applications that utilize the Spotify music streaming service. Hopefully, this will enable and inspire you to build some really cool stuff. We’re looking forward to seeing what you can come up with.” So far so good.
Then they read the Terms of Service and were not quite as happy.
- “Approved Device” does not include any mobile wireless handset or any other internet-enabled device that is designed to be handheld.”
- “The Application Key must be embedded in your Application, including in all updates and revisions thereto, in a secure manner not accessible by third parties.”
- “Spotify reserves the right in its sole discretion to revoke your Application Key for any reason or no reason, without notice, and to block access to the API and Service by the Application, without any liability to you or your users.”
On top of that one needs a Spotify Premium Account (99 SEK/month) to receive a valid Application Key. And not only that, the end user of any third party application built with libspotify also have to be a Premium user, “Libspotify and any applications built with it will be available to Spotify Premium users as of today.”
Todays release was the first one of many coming and Spotify is taking it’s first baby steps toward the openness. To quote Andreas Ehn, the CTO of Spotify: “….have to walk a thin line between what would be ideal for developers and protecting the music that we have licensed“.
Regardless of the negative voices from the developer community, I still think it’s a good sign that Spotify keeps trying to push the limits. It was only about a month ago Despotify, the open source Spotify client, appeared from nowhere and along with that some security issues were raised. The libspotify was already on the making, but Despotify made the Spotify Scrum team work even harder, according to Andreas Ehn.
Whether Spotify is actually balancing between the music owners and the developer community, going for a new revenue model and making money in the economy of the free, or changing the definition of an open api, is too early to speculate. Personally, I’m curious to see whether the developer community will embrace and adjust to this type of terms of service.