First step of a hackathon: read the Terms Of Use

or The birth and death of Music Share

I’ve slowly come to the realization that my Instagram audience is far more engaged than my other audiences on other social networks. That’s because Instagram is our window to the world: everything is public by default.

Two days ago I wanted to share some of the music I make (commercially available on all streaming platforms) on my Instagram but there was no easy way for me to do so. The platform only allows you to share videos and photos, no links, no audio clips.

I decided to take the matter into my own hands and embarked on a journey to build an app that would allow me to create video clips from Spotify links.

Using react-native and tapping into Spotify Search Web API I quickly put together the search interface. I then built a native module that combines an audio clip and an artwork to create a shareable 30 seconds video which can be downloaded or exported to Instagram.

Boom! In couple of hours I had a useful product called Music Share ready to be pushed to the App Store.

Music Share in all its glory

I submitted the app to the App Store the same night, they started reviewing it yesterday and today I received the verdict.

They rejected my app and provided the following explanation:

Your app allows users to save or download music, video, or other media content without authorization from the relevant third-party sources.
To resolve this issue, please provide documentary evidence of your rights to allow media downloading from third-party sources. If you do not have the requested permissions, please remove the download functionality from your app.

So I went on Spotify’s Terms of Use page hoping to find a clause that I could use as documentary evidence of my rights to allow media downloading from third-party sources.

Sadly, this is completely forbidden by Spotify:

No Content Saving Functionality. Your SDA shall not provide any functionality that would enable users to download or save Spotify Content. For example, your SDA shall not allow users to “rip” any songs or download cover art.

Legal 1–0 Me.

Next time I build something that relies on third-party APIs I’ll make sure to read the Terms Of Use first. You should probably do the same.