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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Spotify moving in the right direction with new API, but not there yet

Since launching in 2008 Spotify has had plenty of chances to blow your mind when it comes to their user interface. They’ve figured out that hooking up a music library to the internet is something people want, but they’ve played the user interface side of things stupid conservative, sticking closer to 2001’s Winamp than a service that wants to blow your mind because it’s 2014 and we can do crazy things with technology and music. Spotify is comfortable, but don’t you think over the years they could have done more for interaction among friends and strangers than the follower bar? For instance, when was the last time you dug through Spotify’s UI to see what playlists your friends have made?

Recognizing their inability to innovate, in 2011 Spotify opened the doors for developers to build apps on their platform though their own App Finder built into their desktop app. A few interesting services came out of it but they were neutered by Spotify’s desire to play it safe – allowing developers to create social apps but not giving the ability to remind people to come back through notifications, or an ability to monetize through the platform.

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Now the company is settling down into the idea of just becoming a platform by releasing new features into the Spotify Web API such as album art, 30 second previews, and track, album, and artist details, and Echo Nest integration to give developers the ability to pair related songs.

The more hyped feature in the new API is the ability for web apps to make playlists for their users, which I suppose is moving in the right direction – maybe some website out there will be social and fun and let you browse and save interesting music. But it stops short of just allowing developers to pump Spotify music through their apps.

Spotify is a good music discovery platform because it has nearly everything but it’s been focusing it’s music discovery features through technology and strangers – through their Echo Nest acquisition, which should beef up their radio, and by their Tunigo acquisition which hires professionals to make half-decent playlists. Where Spotify has been lacking is in the social aspect, which is why I wish they would either experiment or give up and give developers real access to the Spotify catalogue.

More information can be found on the Spotify developer news site.

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