Spotify today announced "Play," a widget that lets you embed songs, albums, and even playlists on any website using simple HTML code. Spotify thinks of Play as a "remote control" for its apps — a shortcut button that starts playing music inside the Spotify app on your computer as soon as you click it. It's a logical extension of the placeholder page you see whenever someone sends you a link to a track. Play widgets include progress bars that show how far along you are in the current track, which stay in perfect sync with the Spotify app on your device.
The only catch, if it's not completely obvious, is that you'll need the free Spotify app on your computer or mobile device in order to play music using the new widgets. They'll be a great boon to Spotify users, who will be able to easily bookmark songs they find online, but will frustrate people accustomed to just clicking "play" on a flash music widget. In order to create a customizable widget of your own, right click a track, playlist, or album within Spotify, choose HTML Link, then paste the link into Spotify's developer website. The site spits out an HTML embed code that you can paste into your blog or website. If HTML is too complicated for you, Spotify worked together with Tumblr to make embedding tracks a piece of cake. The "Audio Post" tool inside the Tumblr dashboard now allows you to search Spotify's entire library of music and embed tracks straight onto your blog (pictured above).
"Most music embedding leaves artists on the sideline in terms of compensation."
Spotify's US Director of Product Charlie Hellman hit the announcement from a different angle, highlighting serious issues with artist compensation most people forget about. He told us, "We looked at streaming on the web, and it seemed like there was some room for improvement. There's no easy way to embed licensed content in a reliable way. Most music embedding leaves artist on the sideline in terms of compensation, so we're really excited about the fact that any time a song is played using the Spotify widget, a label gets compensated."
Play should make Spotify's "unlimited listening" promise to Americans even more obvious. Here in the US, there are no limitations as to how much music you can listen to using a Play widget, because the widget is really just an extension of the Spotify app you already have. In many European countries, however, the same "ten hours per month" of free listening rule naturally still applies.