Facebook+Spotify: An ‘Unfair, Insider, Anti-Competitive’ Relationship

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If you’re a music fan, you probably don’t care about this. But if you’re not one of Facebook’s chosen music partners, it’s cold on the outside.

Which is the case for Cole Flournoy, the entrepreneur behind LetsListen who’s pointing to Facebook+Spotify as an overly-cozy, unfairly insider, and downright anti-competitive alliance – especially after the launch of ‘Listen With Me’.  Here’s his statement.

“OK, so here’s the deal…  Facebook’s brand new ‘Listen with me’ feature that’s been getting so much attention – LetsListen already has it, and its had it for a long time.   So why haven’t you heard about it? Because Facebook hasn’t allowed you to see it.

“To date, Facebook has only allowed certain companies with special insider deals to integrate with ticker feed.  They’ve given the “insider” companies an enormous and unfair head start to be the first to market with this new extremely powerful feature, and left all others out in the cold to wait.

“For example, prior to the F8 conference in Septemeber of 2011 (where ticker feed was announced), Facebook had already made a secret deal with Spotify to let them integrate with ticker feed long before the majority of their competitors even knew about it or were allowed to apply.  In exchange for this huge advantage, Spotify had to agree to solely use Facebook as its user account login mechanism.

“Spotify posts every single song you play to the ticker feed, and so what this insider deal did was allow Spotify to completely dominate the ticker feed and gain major market share while 99% of the would-be competitors were simply excluded from competing.  Many have recognized this anti-competitive head start as the primary driving force behind’s Spotify’s success in the US thus far.

“LetsListen is certainly one of those competing apps that could have been first to market with the “Listen with me” feature, had we not been excluded.  We have had this feature ready long before Spotify, but Facebook just hasn’t let us show it to anybody yet.  Here is a video of it in action (made using developer test accounts):

“Zuck if you are out there, let us in.  We’re a small bootstrapped startup in the “working out of the apartment phase,” but we’re scrappy and we think we have integrated with the ticker feed in a better way than any other music apps out there.  We don’t require any download, we don’t force the user to authorize with Facebook before using our app, and we are free forever.  We also have a more social group listening experience where our users can share and suggest music to each other in real time.  So please, approve us and let us compete with the big boys, we’re ready.”