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Spotify gives app developers more notes to play

The streaming music service expands its Web API -- an developer toolbox and instruction set -- with smart music discovery capabilities from its Echo Nest takeover.


Your Spotify Web player may have some fancy new apps coming down the pipeline soon.

The Sweden-based music-streaming company Tuesday expanded its Web API, a set of tools and instructions for coders that help them develop apps for the platform, with music-discovery smarts from recent takeover of Echo Nest and data from the catalog and user profiles.

With Apple buying Beats and Amazon launching a music service to compete with Spotify and other startups, competition in subscription streaming music market is intensifying. The API update suits Spotify's competitive strategy, which has long been to focus on a comprehensive library, savvy design and popularity through telecom partnerships or -- in the US particularly -- word of mouth. The challenge for Spotify in that strategy is punching in the same weight class as a marketing powerhouse like Beats and giant technology corporations like Apple, Amazon and Google.

In March, Spotify bought music-intelligence company Echo Nest, a darling of developers and a swath of media firms -- including some Spotify competitors -- revered for its comprehensive, powerful music discovery tools. At the time, Spotify Chief Executive and founder Daniel Ek said the takeover would help Spotify's "quest to play you the best music possible."

The new Web API integrates the Echo Nest API with Spotify's own, allowing developers to build for the music service with dynamic music-discovery tools. Spotify has both an all-you-can-eat music subscription option for about $10 a month and an ad-based, free version, both allowing listeners to hear whatever song they want on demand. (It also offers a free, mobile option with some limits on song selection.)

The API also lets developers retrieve track, album and artist details from the Spotify catalog, including cover art and 30-second track previews. In addition, with user permission, it will let developers access profile information including playlists, display name, image, country, email, external URL, and subscriber status. Web apps powered by this new API can also build new playlists for users to enjoy later in Spotify apps.