Spotify, one of the most popular online streaming music services in the world with more than 20 million subscribers, today unveiled a new version of its web API that gives developers the ability to create robust streaming music applications.
The latest version of the company's REST API offers developers access to richer metadata such as album cover art and 30-second song previews. In addition, using OAuth 2.0, developers now have the ability to build applications that incorporate profile data from users. This includes subscriber status and playlists. As Spotify's José Manuel Pérez explained in a blog post, "Among other things, this means web apps can now build real Spotify playlists that users can listen to later using a wide variety of methods."
One of the biggest additions to the Spotify web API is the integration of Echo Nest functionality. Echo Nest, a music discovery platform with an API used by hundreds of music and nonmusic apps, was acquired by Spotify in March. "The Echo Nest now has the most up-to-date view of Spotify’s catalog, and you can use Spotify Artist and Track IDs in Echo Nest API calls to build playlists, streaming radio stations, and more," Pérez wrote.
For example, the merger of the Spotify web API and the Echo Nest API enables developers to build apps that identify artists similar to a user's favorite artists. And developers can automatically build playlists of songs that have certain sound characteristics.
Spotify's announcement today almost certainly reflects more than just a natural evolution of its API. Competition in the streaming music space is heating up, and the Spotify web API arguably has the potential to be one of the most valuable weapons the company has as it seeks to fend off competitive threats.
The biggest competitive threat to Spotify is now Apple. With music download sales experiencing double-digit declines this year, the technology giant behind iTunes shelled out $3 billion to buy Beats Electronics. Beats, of course, is best known for its popular high-end headphones, but many believe Apple, which lacked a streaming music service of its own, was most interested in Beats' streaming music service, which launched earlier this year.
For Spotify to hold on to and grow its base of 20 million-plus subscribers, it needs to stay ahead of its richer competition. Offering developers the ability to build compelling multidevice experiences around its service could be crucial to doing that. Not surprisingly, Beats launched its own API recently, so as Spotify does battle with Apple, the companies' respective API strategies could weigh heavily on the outcome.