Launching a new streaming music service in 2014 is not for the faint of heart. Companies like Spotify and Pandora have significant market share, Apple entered the space in 2013 with the launch of iRadio, and electronics giant Samsung wants in on the action, too.
Given all the competition, the odds would seem to be stacked against a new entrant like Beats Electronics. The company, best known for its ultra-successful line of high-end headphones, has a strong brand and the industry savvy of its founders, hip hop mogul Dr. Dre and recording industry impresario Jimmy Iovine. However, parlaying the popularity of its headphones into a successful launch of a new streaming music service is unlikely to be an easy task.
Beats, however, isn't relying on its headphone success and star power to grow Beats Music, which launched in January. Instead, it's turning to a potentially more powerful ally: the API.
According to Beats Music chief Ian C. Rogers, "If you're willing to pay $100 a year for music ... you should have access to music anywhere you might want it, in your car, house, anywhere." Wisely, Rogers recognizes that making that music available anywhere is going to be easier to accomplish with the help of others. So earlier this month, Beats Music launched a public API that allows third parties to build applications that allow Beats Music subscribers to interact with the Beats Music catalog and play music on different platforms and devices, and through new kinds of applications.
The Beats Music REST API, which relies on OAuth 2.0 for authentication, offers third-party developers access to "nearly all" of the API endpoints that Beats Music's employees use themselves to build the company's own applications. In addition to giving developers the ability to access the 20 million songs in the Beats Music catalog, developers can access personalized recommendations for their users and manage their users' playlists and music libraries.
Beats Music's developer portal offers full documentation for the API, as well as an API playground that developers can use to issue requests to the API without writing code. Developers using the Beats Music API must adhere to the company's branding guidelines and terms of service.
The A in API stands for attractive
An API in and of itself obviously won't bring Beats Music overnight success, but as the company does battle with other players in the space, it's important that Beats Music's service is available through a wide range of platforms and devices, to bolster the attractiveness of its offering to customers vis–à–vis the competition.
Already, Chevrolet has announced that Beats Music will be available on its AppShop platform, which will give owners of select 2015 models, including the Corvette, Impala and Silverado, the ability to access connected information and entertainment services like Beats Music without becoming distracted drivers.
If Beats Music can leverage its newly public API to ink similar deals, standing out and gaining market share in the increasingly crowded streaming music market could prove easier than it would have been without an API.