SoundCloud Reminds Us That APIs Aren't Forever

Last week, SoundCloud restricted access to its application programming interface (API) for developers, making it rather more difficult developers to draw on SoundCloud's audio content in their own apps. While annoying, that's all-too-common behaviour in the world of APIs.

As Business Insider reports, SoundCloud's decision to restrict outside developers to just 15,000 songs played in total over a 24-hour period appears to have been motivated by its desire to stop people building apps to automatically play specific tracks, thus artificially inflating their popularity rankings. But whatever the motivation, the practical upshot is that you won't be able to build an app with a very large audience that uses the SoundCloud APIs for access to music. Even if your users only play one track a day, that would restrict you to 15,000 — not a viable number if you're relying on in-app advertising to make money.

While annoying, this kind of restriction is common. Twitter cut off access to its APIs back in 2012 in order to ensure users couldn't dodge advertising. Third-party clients are often good news for consumers, but a monetisation headache for service developers.

Big tech companies are making a tough choice when it comes to developers [Business Insider]


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