Low Hanging Fruit

The current state of playlist sharing on Apple Music API

I’m currently working on a simple Apple Music powered client project which allows fans to create their own playlists from a pool of an artists’ tracks. Using a combination of the Apple Music API and MusicKit JS SDK, it’s pretty easy to authenticate an Apple Music user, present them with a list of the tracks, and allow them to create a brand new playlist from a custom selection of hits. Based on my past experiences building similar apps with Spotify, I think it’s only natural to then want to present the user with a link to their playlist or even better, the ability to share this playlist with their friends. Well I tried to do with with the Apple Music API and you can read my journey in the Twitter thread below or continue reading for a summary.

In short, Apple Music playlists have a global identifier which you can use to build a publicly accessibly share url but that global id is not available in the Apple Music API until a user manually clicks share in one of the Apple Music apps. And that’s what I find weird about this, it’s clear that the technology is there but Apple Music is choosing not to bolster their API data (automatically) with a single string property that would greatly increase sharing of their platform.

I wouldn’t have written this post if I hadn’t found James Zaghini’s report on the issue from March of 2017. Two years ago. To me, that means creating accessible shareable links out of user created playlists is not a priority to Apple Music. But I’m also very aware of all the hard work Apple has been putting into their API and JS SDK so perhaps this simply hasn’t been tackled yet and its something we can look forward to?

My suggestion to the Apple Music team is to begin tackling your lack of social by simply creating more accessible entry points into your ecosystem rather than trying to create a music social network. The API is a perfect place to do this because you don’t have to adjust your native apps. Make whatever tech you’re currently employing to turn on playlist global identifiers automatic or simply give users the ability to have private and public playlists.

Empower your API developers to create the social opportunities surrounding your ecosystem for you. You will not be disappointed.