[caption id="attachment_28295" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Image courtesy of Flickr, ╔╦╗╖╦╠╣╚╝™"][/caption]Back in November of 2011, Spotify announced that developers would be able to build apps within the music subscription service's platform, launching offerings from the likes of Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Last.fm and more. This past weekend, Spotify held a hackathon in New York City, letting a cadre of hackers dig into its API and create something new atop its platform. The winner of this adrenaline-fueled weekend? Swarm.fm, a soon-to-be-released app from the makers of Chrome plugin, +Music (which was nominated for Best Music Hack in the last O Music Awards).
If you're unfamiliar with +Music, it was basically the de facto way to listen to music on Facebook before the social networking site integrated with subscription services like Spotify and Rdio to bring tunes to its millions and millions of users. The plugin let users send songs to other Facebook users and post playable streams on their walls, as well as right-click on artist names to pull up playlists of tunes. Its reach extended beyond Facebook as well -- users could visit music blogs and right-click on artist names to explore jams.
Now, it seems, founder Peter Watts is taking all of that music discovery goodness and couching it within the Spotify ecosystem. According to the app's profile, "[Swarm.fm will] take the internet, find everything related to music, shove it inside Spotify, and put a play button on it.” Sounds good to us.
“Swarm augments your music collection with activity from your friends (liking bands, listening, posting songs) and activity from artists you like (new releases, status updates), to keep you up to date with your ‘music universe,’” the description reads. “It also find similarities between friends and can generate playlists based on artists, interests and brands you have in common.”
From what we know about the app, it could provide users with an interesting hub for music info and recommendations. Yes, Spotify already has apps that allow you to read select music content within the app while listening to tunes -- The Guardian, Pitchfork, etc -- but an aggregator that pulls even more content into the app without splitting it between publications could be intriguing. On the social side, Spotify has group-listening apps like Soundrop as well, but the more passive experience of checking out tunes that your friends are listening to (outside of the crowded ecosystem of Facebook) should be attractive to people who aren't really into digital DJing.
Apps like these -- in addition to those launched back in November -- make Spotify a unique product when compared with other music subscription services. Instead of just being a background service -- pull up a playlist, minimize it, and listen while surfing the web -- Spotify instead becomes a social network for music of sorts.
It remains to be seen, of course, whether users will truly embrace it as such, but as of yet, its the closest we've come in a while to a truly music-dedicated site -- with its millions of users -- that has earned any measure of mass appeal.
Watts tells us that Swarm.fm is scheduled to launch in about a month.