Xbox Music opens 3rd party APIs, offers affiliate program

Microsoft first announced the Xbox Music API program at Build, earlier this year, and today, according to a blog post on the new “Xbox Music for Developers” blog, that program has now moved out of its pilot program and the APIs are available to any 3rd party developers interested in making use of them. The blog post goes into detail:

Music is first and foremost about content. We’ve opened access to our 38 million track catalog in 23 countries. We let you search our catalog for artists, albums and tracks. Once you’ve found what you’re interested in, you can lookup extra information for that piece of content, such as an artist’s albums. Want to make content more appealing in your application? We also give you access to an extensive set of artist and album images. We also provide deep-links into existing Xbox Music applications on most of our platforms.

Taking it a step further, you get access to user authenticated features of Xbox Music. User authenticated features will at first be restricted to members of our pilot program. Read the subscriber’s music library and playlists, add new music content or create new playlists. Curating content to fit a user’s taste is complex. With access to a user’s personal collection, you can tailor your experience to better meet his needs in your experience. Everything you do to the user’s collection and playlists will roam seamlessly to Xbox Music first party apps as well as other third party apps like your own.

So far, Xbox Music has been a bit of an also-ran within the crowded music subscription service field, far outpaced by numerous other services like Pandora,, and competing with a number of upstarts like Beats Music, which was just acquired by Apple. Even more recently, just this week Google acquired Songza. Xbox Music didn’t even make the initial list of services now provided with unlimited streaming with T-Mobile’s new “Music Freedom” promotion, although it has since been added after a write-in campaign.

Xbox Music started out as a bare-bones service, but has been slowly adding features to its Windows Phone, Windows 8, and web presences. Hopefully, 3rd party access will jump start the innovation with the service, which offers incentives for developers via the new affiliate program. 3rd parties can earn a 5% commission on purchases, and a 10% commission on Xbox Music Pass subscriptions purchased through an app, for each year that the subscription remains active (working out to $1 per user, per month, for each Xbox Music Pass subscription sold, not bad!).

While these newly accessible APIs are good news for developers, Microsoft still seems to be ingrained in the offering platforms, instead of readymade services, and we’d like to see a lot more work by Microsoft itself to improve the Xbox Music service and its device specific components. Hopefully that’s on the way, too.