The Problem with Spotify Apps (and the Broader Issue with DaaS Services)

I spent the afternoon playing with some of the Apps on top of the Spotify platform.

Some were pretty neat (like Moodagent, which lets you create Playlists via emotion) but I didn’t find myself discovering as much music as I thought I would.

The problem is that as a Spotify App, you live in Spotify’s sandbox – bound by the music licensed to the Spotify platform – which means up and coming artists, new remixes, and other strange outlier tracks are out of bounds.

This became most notable with “ShareMyPlaylists” – an App to enable users to more easily share their playlists publicly.

As a big user of 8Tracks, I thought it would be a neat way to integrate the two experiences – bringing discovery and personal curation into one application.

However, six playlists in – it was a very different experience – no discovery of some obscure band I hadn’t heard of before – no esoteric remix of a popular club track.  In fact, it was very similar to my general experience across any Spotify App (or just my normal playlists.)

This is the problem that most DaaS and Mobile PaaS Platforms (like Parse, Stackmob, Firebase, etc) eventually face with usage and monetization:

  • The services are really good at enabling developers to feature-light products quickly
  • However, if you want to customize and start to differentiate – it becomes more difficult to use
  • At the same time, the additional cost of using a DaaS-provider versus an IaaS-provider starts to not make sense
  • So products that work either don’t start on the platform or migrate off and the platform is left with smaller apps

For Spotify, this issue isn’t a big deal – their goal is to drive more music listening on their platform – not necessarily monetize developers.

For other players whose core business is acting as a platform for other businesses – they may need to change how they generate revenue or focus on enabling more flexibility in services.

For me, I’m back to 8Tracks – so much good music to discover.

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I work for True Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund with offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto. We partner with promising entrepreneurs at the earliest stages in the technology market providing hands-on management support to guide our portfolio companies through the challenges of early growth.