Rhapsody Pulls Plug On Non-Public APIs, Effectively Shuts YottaMusic Down

A reader of ours tipped us off today about the recent demise of a highly regarded music service called YottaMusic that was shut down on December 30th after Rhapsody had given the service a December 31st deadline for ceasing use of its non-public APIs and data.

YottaMusic was a music web application started in 2006 that primarily afforded a superior interface to Rhapsody’s streaming music collection, although it also sported social networking features and playlist integration with Sonos and Last.fm. Back in 2006, YottaMusic was permitted access to a set of non-public Rhapsody APIs that allowed it to build its own player and interface for the music service instead of using Rhapsody’s own popup player.

This past May, however, Rhapsody contacted YottaMusic and asked them to start using its public APIs exclusively or shut down the service entirely. Since YottaMusic depended on the non-public API for its Rhapsody interface, and since adopting the standard Rhapsody player would have erased most of the application’s value, the startup ultimately felt forced to fold and shut down operations.

While founder Luke Matkins says that he understands Rhapsody was perfectly within its rights to take such actions, it’s obviously an unfortunate turn of events for YottaMusic’s 10,000 visitors per day. And it’s unclear why Rhapsody was so concerned about YottaMusic providing its own player for streaming music from them. In May, YottaMusic even offered to completely reskin its player, thereby removing all signs of YottaMusic branding. Users playing songs through YottaMusic also had to be paying Rhapsody members, so it wasn’t as though anyone was stealing music. Nevertheless, some undisclosed reason compelled Rhapsody to effectively squash a popular point of access to its service, a move that seems quite rash on the surface of things.

I suspect that a considerable amount of politics are at play here, although I don’t profess to have particularly acute insight into the online music industry. MOG, another web destination for music lovers, recently integrated Rhapsody into its service and now uses Rhapsody’s own popup player to stream songs. So it’s not as though Rhapsody is failing to allow third party applications to spread its service; rather, the player itself seems to be a major sticking point.

YottaMusic is now in the TechCrunch DeadPool.

[News via Bijan Sabet]