Spotify trying to lock-in users just after IPO

Spotify trying to lock-in users just after IPO

Spotify has recently IPO’ed, and its stock is available publicly to buy. The company is now under even closer watch from the public market, as it tries to beat the competition and compete in the market where it doesn’t really have any great distribution models.

Apple Music

Apple owns iOS ecosystem, and Apple proved how great customer acquisition channel that can be. Apple Music has recently passed 38 million paying subscribers.

Google Music

  • Google has Android, most popular mobile OS in the world.
  • Chrome, one of most popular browsers in the world
  • Google.com most popular webpage in the world
  • YouTube, most popular video service in the world.

How hard is it for Google to pack their Music Streaming Service into different paid products?

Not hard apparently: Google Music is available for free as part of YouTube Red.

Spotify

I couldn’t find exact numbers for Google Music, but the point still stands: Spotify does not own any substantial distribution channel. In other words, why would I stay with Spotify when I can:

  • Move to YouTube Red, enjoy ad-free YouTube, which I can play in the background on mobile, and have Google Music full access?
  • Switch to Apple Music, which is better integrated into my HomePods, Siri, iOS, Apple TV?
  • Use Tidal, because it’s available for free with my mobile internet provider (as it’s the case in Poland for example)

I still use Spotify, because I prefer it’s UX, sharing capabilities, pricing, music recommendation etc.

This may not be enough though to win the streaming services battle. ( I highly recommend Ben Thompson articles about Spotify)

Locking in users and forbidding them to export playlists

…or at least trying.

When we started FreeYourMusic, our goal was really simple, we wanted to move our carefully curated playlists to Apple Music, just to test how it works. Since then we have been helping thousands of users with their playlists migrations across various music services.

Back in the time when we started writing the code, we checked for what Spotify SDK terms of services would allow us. Spotify SDK allowed us to use user-data, and as long as we did not charge for the app that allows listening to the music, it was all fine. Not anymore…

Spotify recently wrote to us, saying that we have to stop using their official SDKs for integrating Spotify with competing services.

Dear Mike,

It’s come to our attention that the service associated with your Spotify developer account, Stamp, is in violation of Spotify’s Developer Terms of Use.

According to its website, Stamp provides a service that allows users to “move[] tracks and playlists across various services.”

Stamp is in violation of Spotify’s Developer Terms, which prohibit developers from integrating Spotify Content (including metadata) with third-party services, or building products or services that promote competition with the Spotify Service, among other things.

Stamp’s use of the Spotify logo in its app and on its website also misleadingly suggests Spotify’s endorsement of Stamp’s services.  We ask that you please discontinue such infringing use of Spotify’s trademarks.

Please confirm in writing that you will discontinue: (i) any violations of Spotify’s Developer Terms and (ii) unauthorized trademark use within 30 days. If we do not receive a response or if no corrective action is taken, we may be required to disable your API key and access to the Spotify developer platform.

Thank you.

Spotify Developer Compliance Team

As it turns out, they have just changed their Developers Terms of Use, and now they explicitly try to destroy apps like STAMP.

If not official way, we will do it hacky way

We believe that user data fully belongs to the user, and the user should have full control over it. If I want to migrate from Spotify, I should be free to export all my playlists to Apple Music. This is not the case with music streaming services unless you use FreeYourMusic.com’s app STAMP.

FreeYourMusic supports multiple services, across which, users can easily migrate their songs. Some of them are handled with official API (eg. Apple Music, YouTube) and some are simulating to be the official webapp (like Tidal or Google Play Music).

The pros of using official API is that user experience is much better: if you are logged in to Spotify on your mobile, you are also logged in automatically in STAMP.

Unfortunately we had to stop using official Spotify SDK, and instead, we are simulating their webapp. Everything works as previously, except login page, now you have to log in, even after being logged in on Spotify App.

The future of user data

  • Should Spotify and other tech-giants keep our data hostage?
  • Who should be the owner of the data, the user creates?
  • If you curate your awesome weekend playlist, are you the owner and should you be disallowed to ever export it again?

We will continuously fight with music data lock-in, as it drives the companies to offer better and better products. Finally Taylor Swift is available on Spotify, but if it won’t be, I want to be able to migrate to service where she is.

Spotify, we don’t own MP3’s anymore and sometimes we loose music when you pull it out of your library. Don’t steal also our playlists, which you are using to train your AI for the recommendation system. You do not gain anything from it, I will still move, if you want it or not.