Monday, October 12, 2020

Spotify Not Playing Fair

SongShift Team (also: MacRumors):

The Spotify Developer Platform Team reached out and let us know we’d need to remove transferring from their service to a competing music service or have our API access revoked due to TOS violation.

Spotify only wants you to use the API to import, not to export. The mixlib app is also affected (via Olivier Simard-Casanova).

Even putting aside that this sort of API restriction is bad for customers, you’d think that Spotify would have its eye on the bigger picture of not undermining its argument about fairness.

Jason Snell:

Spotify hates how Apple tends its own ecosystem, but it has zero interest in allowing its customers to migrate metadata in any way that might make it more convenient to leave Spotify behind. That’s their decision to make, of course, but for a company that claims to support consumer freedom, it has just made a hypocritical decision designed to reduce the freedom of its own customers.


Update (2020-10-14): Damien Petrilli:

Until there is a regulation to prevent Apple to integrate Apple Music so tightly to iOS it’s probably safer for Spotify to prevent easy migration.


It’s like asking to play fair in a game where all other players cheat and respect no rule.

Update (2020-10-22): SongShift (via Petr Zvoníček):

Spotify has updated their Developer TOS to allow transferring your playlists from their service, just not the ones created by them.

9 Comments RSS · Twitter

Old Unix Geek

People always seem to behave badly towards weaker parties.

2425 years ago, the Athenians made pretty much the same argument when dealing with the Melians: "the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must".

Obvious parallels to the AppStore and 3rd party developers, etc.

I have to laugh at Gruber's description of SongShift as "a nifty utility" -- obviously he hasn't used it and is just doing his usual schtick of bashing Apple competitors / critics with misinformation. SongShift is a piece of crap. After upgrading to the paid tier, I tried to transfer a 1,000 song playlist from Spotify to Apple Music and it took forever and then didn't actually work (this was ~6 months ago). Multiple attempts with several different playlists had the same result. As far as I could tell it was doing everything on-device which meant I had to keep the app active. Total garbage. Other similar web services work much faster, more reliably, and in the cloud -- often for free, and on the open web. If anything, SongShift is an example of why the App Store isn't so great.

I think it is a nifty utility that had value for me. I have used it successfully many times transferring interesting playlists from Spotify (where I only have free account) to Apple Music (which I do pay for).

But of course, I didn't try to transfer 1000 song playlist, mostly 20-60.

On top of everything, dear Jason Snell, in what way does Spotify qualify as "a company that claims to support consumer freedom"?

Out for itself in every way possible from the start.

Spotify is a founding member of The Coalition for App Fairness, where consumer freedom is one of the issues. One might say that forcing Songshift to remove a feature that lets a user take data out of Spotify is somewhat at odds with this issue.

> Tu quoque "argument" follows the pattern:[2]

> Person A makes claim X.
> Person B asserts that A's actions or past claims are inconsistent with the truth of claim X.
> Therefore, X is false.

>It is a fallacy because the moral character or actions of the opponent are generally irrelevant to the logic of the argument.

Proving Spotify & Microsoft are hypocrites does nothing to prove that their argument is wrong.

It's bizarre to see how the MAGA (Make *Apple* Great Again) mindset has spread across the Mac commentariat, led by John Gruber. It would be a *massive* benefit for there to be multiple app-stores on the iPhone. Apps would be cheaper (over $1 Stripe et al take much less than 30%). I could buy books from within the Kindle app, and subscribe to Netflix from within its app. I could -- if I chose to take the risk -- obtain system software for my iPad that allowed me do development on it.

Yet John and the rest are actively arguing against their interests on this. You can't even claim it comes from a place of concern for Apple's finances: the company sells its hardware at a profit and has more cash on hand than it knows what to do with.

Obviously it would raise the upfront price of consoles, but I think I could live with that, especially since -- as Apple's ad campaigns have highlighted -- iOS devices like the iPad are becoming people's primary computing devices; which is not true of consoles.

@Bryan Spotify still has a good argument, but the fact that they aren’t acting in accordance with their professed values makes them a less sympathetic victim and causes some observers to doubt whether the argument is being made in good faith. That may hurt their cause, just as Epic annoyed the judge by trying to argue that their hotfix to get around App Review wasn’t deceptive.

As far as I could tell it was doing everything on-device which meant I had to keep the app active. Total garbage. Other similar web services work much faster, more reliably, and in the cloud — often for free, and on the open web.

Notwithstanding the issue that iOS won’t let you (easily/conveniently) do this in the background, there’s a pretty big privacy issue with doing it “in the cloud”. So you want to move from service A to service B, and in order to do so, you’re donating your information to service C, whom you’ll likely never interact with again? What do you really know about those services? Can you trust them not to collect data, and/or to delete it afterwards?

TuneMyMusic (which I use) clearly states that they only retrieve playlist data, and use it only to provide playlist migration services -- it is not shared with any 3rd party. From what I can tell this is not materially different from the SongShift privacy policy. The Spotify API itself only shares playlist / library information, not any personal identifiers like email address, username, location, etc. Either way I use a throwaway email address and a unique username for that stuff.

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