Thursday, December 1, 2011

Spotify Aims to Amp Up Music with Apps

Spotify is amping up its streaming service with a platform that lets third-party developers build music-based apps Relevant Products/Services. Dubbed Spotify Platform, the company is calling it the next big step in musical enjoyment.

Time will tell if the free apps live up to the hype. Currently, there are 16 partner apps to choose from in the U.S. Twelve of them are available now and come from some of the biggest brands in music, including Billboard and Rolling Stone.

"Once you take a look, you'll see why we believe this is truly the beginning of something game-changing for digital music," said Spotify CEO and founder Daniel Ek. "We think this will lead to integrations that keep Spotify beautiful and simple, but layer in great musical experiences designed to be social and fun. It's what our users have been asking us for."

Beyond Facebook

Spotify is announcing the new apps on the back of its integration Relevant Products/Services with Facebook. Spotify started streaming music via the Facebook platform in September. That gave Spotify a quick membership boost. The company reports adding more than 7 million new users in just more than two months because of the deal.

The integration lets Facebook users find friends who also use Spotify and subscribe to their friends' playlists and send songs in a tweet or Facebook message. In short, Facebook integration made Spotify more social. Now, the Spotify Platform aims to make it more social and mobile Relevant Products/Services.

As Ek suggested, the ultimate goal of Spotify Platform is to drive innovation on top of music and add more layers of music enjoyment in the process. Spotify hopes DJs will create the best lists and virtual Relevant Products/Services clubs where people can gather together to hear them, dance and sing along. Spotify wants fans to get closer to their favorite artists.

Spotify's other global partners are Fuse, The Guardian,, Moodagent, Pitchfork, Songkick, Soundrop, TuneWiki and We Are Hunted. Top10 and ShareMyPlaylists apps are coming soon. Spotify also has three Nordic partners launching local apps, including Tunigo in Sweden, Gaffa in Denmark and Dagbladet in Norway.

Getting Critical Mass

RIM has tried to make music more social and mobile with its BBM service. Apple has tried with Ping. Can Spotify do what others haven't? Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, isn't sure but he sees Spotify's move outside of music as a smart one.

"We've got a lot of music vendors in the space and it's very easy to get lost in the noise. This might be a way for Spotify to dig out and discover a new opportunity," Enderle said. The key is going to be to get people to use the apps. Social-mobile music initiatives have largely failed, he said, because vendors approach the problem with technology rather than social engineering.

"You are trying to engineer something around people, but using people who are trained with technology and not with people," Enderle said. "The services that have failed so far have thrown concepts at the market but they haven't really thought through how people will use it. For any type of social engineering effort to work, you have to get the critical mass."

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