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article imageSpotify to utilize Facebook-esque apps

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By Abigail Prendergast     Dec 1, 2011 in Technology
Spotify, an online streaming music service who joined forces with Facebook recently, has now taken a hint from its social contemporary and yesterday launched an experimental version of its new service called Spotify Apps.
The online music service Spotify is incorporating apps into its downloadable software in the vein of of social-networking giant, Facebook.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Spotify AB is starting to offer Facebook-like applications that incorporate several features into its popular service. This move can very likely set the Swedish company apart from competitors such as Google, Amazon and Apple.
The apps will come free of charge to both paying and non-paying Spotify users says The Hollywood Reporter.
According to All Things D, the new strategy - which was unveiled yesterday - gives users "a lot of new bells and whistles to play with." Those extra bells and whistles coming from external companies Spotify has invited into its corner. Any company who wishes to develop apps for the Stockholm-based company is welcome to contribute.
Even with the third-party creation, however, each and every app will still be required to pass muster with Spotify. Chief Executive Daniel Ek compared his company's approval process to that of Apple in an interview.
"It's going to be more like the Apple model," said Mr. Ek. "We want to make sure the quality of the apps we get in is really, really high."
MoneyCNN looked at some of the launch apps that are already available through Spotify. An app called TuneWiki allows users to look at the lyrics of their favorite songs while listening to them. The words that are currently being sung are highlighted in a bold and slightly enlarged font.
An app for Rolling Stone magazine brings relevant articles and album reviews to Spotify, where as a Billboard app converts various "top" charts (such as Hot 100) into song playlists.
There is even an app called Songkick that tracks your favorite artists and relays tour dates for local concerts and other events featuring the singer and/or band in question.
Despite this "all you can eat" pitch that Spotify is offering, it did come at great financial expense. Those in the music industry are estimating that the service's licensing agreements with major record labels will total a $175 million dollar tab over the next two years. Ek did not go into any detail regarding such agreements, but did say that a large chunk of the revenue is given to royalty payments.
"We are the second-largest income generator for the major labels in Europe, after iTunes," Ek said while acknowledging Spotify's lightning-fast move up the food chain to become a major player in the realm of music industry financial partnership.
For the time being, the apps will only be supported on Windows and Mac OS-run machines but some of those apps will have the capability to create playlists accessible on smartphones. In addition, Spotify is also launching "preview versions" of its software for Blackberry smartphones and the Linux operating system.
Spotify itself has seen immense popularity in Europe since coming overseas to the United States just this past summer. The service boasts 10 million users in 12 countries, 2.5 million of whom pay for the ad-free premium version according to recent statistics.
Not only are the apps a big-ticket item for Spotify, the company also partnered up with Facebook back in September which allowed users to post whatever songs he or she listened to onto his or her Wall. There is also the ability to check in on friends' activity on Spotify via the expansive social network.
Ek pointed out that his company has contributed over $150 million to the music industry thusfar at a press conference in New York yesterday.
"Playlists are the new mixed tape," he said in reference to further driving Spotify's social aspect. "Social is the next step to bring music everywhere."
Spotify users have created roughly a staggering 500 million playlists, Ek pointed out. The amount of which has doubled since just this past July.
Unfortunately for aspiring app developers, there is currently no way of cashing in for their creations at this point and time Ek said. That in turn creates a challenge for Spotify to draw in more potential outside developers. Even so, the company's chief content producer, Kenneth Parks, said that he can think of numerous potential methods of at least assisting third-party developers to make money from their efforts somewhere down the road.
"Whenever you bring together millions of people there are e-commerce opportunities that will arise," Parks said.
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