Spotify turns up the volume with new app platform

Spotify is opening up its service to developers to create free applications inside its desktop app that build off its fast-growing streaming music platform. The company, which already provides a limited application programming interface (API) to developers, is now enabling robust integration of apps inside its desktop client, allowing developers to tap into Spotify’s 15 million songs and its growing user base.

The goal is to create a lively ecosystem that helps draw more users into Spotify’s world and helps them discover and share more music. Founder Daniel Ek said Spotify is trying to fill a void on the web, which has a lot of sites and applications dedicated to music but often have little music content. By opening up Spotify as a platform, Ek is hoping to unleash a lot of innovation that can help kick music consumption into high gear, turning music into something as ubiquitous as water.

“Today’s integration keeps Spotify simple and beautiful but later on social and fun. One way to think about today’s announcement is we’re bringing music to where it should have been,” Ek said.

Spotify brings apps to users

Developers will be able to create HTML5 apps using a JavaScript API with approval by Spotify necessary for inclusion on the platform. The apps will live in an App Finder in the desktop client that serves as a gallery. Some of the launch partners include Songkick, whose app will help users find concerts. Users will be able to sing along to songs with lyrics from TuneWiki. There’s also reviews and other resources for finding music. Rolling Stone is one of the launch partners and will offers editorially curated playlists with songs. is also launching an app that helps people discover music from friends. Many apps offer instant access to Spotify’s songs.

All the apps will be free and available to non-paying users of Spotify. Spotify is apparently hoping to lure in many more users into its ecosystem and eventually convince them to pay for $4.99 and $9.99 monthly premium accounts. Spotify has about 10 million users, including 2.5 million who pay for premium accounts.

Maintaining the momentum

The move should help Spotify continue to grow in the U.S. It’s gotten a huge boost from its partnership with Facebook, which has helped it add 7 million users since September. But this would allow it to partner with a lot more developers and publishers and bring its service to their users. It also enables Spotify to offer a lot of features that people have been asking for without having to undertaking it themselves.

The move shows how streaming music services are increasingly trying to enlist developers to better compete and bring in revenue. Spotify’s earlier API was reportedly hard to work with and it didn’t prove that popular with developers. Rdio also updated its APIs earlier this year to provide a much wider array of mobile features to developers, who want to tap Rdio’s content. Tapping developers also helps these streaming services compete against cloud music offerings from Apple (s aapl), Google (s goog) and Amazon (s amzn).

With the limited nature of the new platform, Ek admitted that it’s still early days for Spotify as a music platform. But he still expects this to be catalyst for the music industry.

“There are going to be things we can’t even imagine sitting here today. This is a great time for music. The Spotify platform is going to make it even better with a burst of innovation,” Ek said.