The Story Of How Spotify Forced An Unofficial iPad App To Turn To Kickstarter



Back in March, Max Petriv tweeted some images of a Spotify iPad app he had been working on. Not only was the app optimized for the iPad’s larger display (at that time there had not been a Spotify client even teased for the iPad), but the design and interface of Petriv’s app looked downright gorgeous.

The New York-based designer had no clue that his pictures would cause such a stir, with many publications, including Cult of Mac, reporting that an unofficial Spotify app was finally in the works. You see, Spotify had been promising the world an official iPad client for months and months, but when pressed, the music streaming juggernaut would only give vague hints, like “it’s definitely coming.” Hardly a satisfactory answer for iPad users wanting their own Spotify experience.

After showing off his early work on a Spotify iPad app, Petriv was blindsided by Spotify suddenly coming out of the woodwork to release its highly anticipated official app in May. The timing of Spotify’s announcement was interesting given that Petriv had just asked for help developing his own app less than two months prior.

Petriv is now publicly working on his own Spotify app again, but due to the restrictions Spotify imposes on developers, he needs your help.

Petriv has started a campaign on Kickstarter to raise funding for the development of his own Spotify client. “After the official app came out, I was thinking about dropping the project,” admitted Petriv.”A few friends kept insisting that they prefer what they saw me designing over the real app.”

Why not just charge $1.99 in the App Store when the app is released? As it turns out, Spotify prohibits third-party developers from making a profit off apps that tie into the music service.

Spotify’s API Terms & Conditions clearly state that:

3.3 You may not sell the Application, charge Users for use of the Application or otherwise derive any income from Users’ use of the Application, such as through e-commerce initiated via the Application or the sale of any advertising, sponsorships or promotions on the Application itself.

“Just like there are tons of Twitter apps out there, I believe there is a market for Spotify powered apps,” Petriv told Cult of Mac. “The main difference is that developers can’t make money on Spotify apps, so there is a huge lack of interest. The goal is not to replace the official app. The goal is to bring a unique way to browse the music.”

Spotify’s own iPad app is available for free to customers who pay for the $10 per month Premium subscription. The app itself is very well designed and functional. Not only has the official app been well received by customers, but Spotify has continued to update its iOS apps (there’s also an iPhone-optimized client for Premium subscribers) with the latest features. Is there really room for an alternative, third-party client? Petriv definitely thinks so. He says that his app will focus on experiencing Spotify music in a different way.

“The main differences are in the way you explore the music,” said Petriv. “You will still have access to all your playlists from the main app, but I want to bring in information on what your friends are listening and have that be a sort of playlist itself. Everything your friends are listing to will be added to a separate playlist that you can just plug into. I want social to be at the top. I want people to be able to share songs to their Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr with ease. There are a bunch of multitouch gestures that will make this app a joy to use. There are many other features I want to bring to the table, but I want to keep them under the table for now.”

From the screenshots we’ve already seen, Petriv’s app relies heavily on album art tiles, and the interface is very clean. Spotify’s official iPad app is great, but there’s definitely room for improvement. Combined with the social focus, a different approach to UI and workflow could be enough to set Petriv’s client apart as a solid alternative in the App Store.

Petriv has a $5,000 goal he needs to reach on Kickstarter by August 8th. At the time of this writing, less than $1,000 has been pledged. There are multiple pricing tiers for pledges, including a $100 donation that will grant early access to the app’s beta and a vote in naming the app and selecting its features. Anyone who donates $5 or more will be given a shout-out in the app’s credits.

“There is a developer I am working with, but we need some financial support to get this off the ground,” said Petriv. “We are both working full time doing other things, but our passion is in creating something people will love to use. This app is only the beginning. At the end of the day I would love to drop everything and start my own company where we would concentrate on building a few great apps a year.”