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Thursday December 1, 2011 11:34 am

Spotify launches its own app ecosystem in attempt to become a music platform

Spotify has opened its network up to developers, turning the music service into a music platform.

"We're launching truly integrated apps inside Spotify from the best and brightest," Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek said during a New York press event. "We really believe they'll deliver unique experiences tailored to you and your music tastes."

Third-party developers will be able to build HTML5 apps that access Spotify's music library via a JavaScript API. Spotify is "opening our platform in a way that lets you curate the apps you want and make Spotify yours," Ek said.

All app developers are invited to submit apps to Spotify "but we will approve the apps because we think the core here is the user experience," Ek said.

At this point, there are also no monetization possibilities; all apps will be free.

"This is really something we've done because we believe that this was missing. We're creating this platform really knowing that it's the early days and we've got to figure things out," Ek said. "Primarily right now we're doing this because we have a ton of users who want to find out more information around music. Right now there's really not monetization within the Spotify model."

Apps will be available on the left-hand side of the Spotify desktop client under "App Finder"; clicking that brings up an iTunes-esque apps store. All apps will be available to paying customers and users of the free service.

Ek showed off several apps, including one from Rolling Stone, which had staff playlists and music reviews with built-in access to the songs being discussed. "It's really just the perfect companion; you read about the stuff you want and you instantly hear it," Ek said.

Ek also demoed apps from: Last.fm, which provides access to like-minded listeners; Songkick, which will sell concert tickets; and tunewiki, which shows you the lyrics as a song plays.

Spotify Platform beta goes live later today as a preview on Spotify's Web site. The full rollout will happen in December.

The Spotify client also got a bit of a makeover; favorite friends will be listed on the top of the right-hand Spotify nav bar, while real-time activity will be listed below, much like Facebook's ticker.

The move comes several months after Spotify linked up with Facebook to allow users to share their listening activity on the social network—a move that helped it add 250,000 new listeners per day in the wake of the announcement. Some users, however, didn't like having all their listening activity broadcast on Facebook, so Spotify later provided the option to de-link the two services. That hasn't hurt Spotify's uptake, however; last week, Spotify confirmed that it had 2.5 million paid global subscribers.

Spotify launched in 2008 overseas, though it did not come to the U.S. until July. It provides access to the company's library of 15 million songs, and you can also import MP3s you already own. You can create and manage playlists, and discover new music via the 250 million playlists posted by other users. When you find new tunes, you can share with friends on Spotify or through social-networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, as well as email and text. Your Spotify profile will display top tracks, artists, and playlists; people can subscribe to your playlists and vice versa and there's the option to drop specific tracks in a friend's inbox.

Wednesday's event was Spotify's first U.S. press conference. Last week, the company sent out invites for the event, promising a "new direction" for the music service. The Wall Street Journal and its sister blog, All Things D, later reported that that new direction would likely allow developers to tap into Spotify's music library.

This article, written by Chloe Albanesius, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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