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Even though Spotify shows up in the indicator-sound just fine (Controlling it works from there) using multimedia keys on your keyboard does nothing.

When I open up Rhythmbox they're able to control the music there, so the keyboard settings seem ok.

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Multimedia keys work out of the box now. If your problem is that they work but only when Spotify is the focused application, see this question instead. – tanius Jul 10 at 13:49

Try out Spotify Gnome

Spotify-Gnome is a program that provides Gnome media key support for the Spotify Linux client. It supports the play/pause, stop, next, and previous signals, and is compatible with both Gnome 2 and Gnome 3.

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Works fine in 12.10. This is the workaround I didn't know in my answer :-) – André Stannek Oct 19 '12 at 13:49
Working in 13.04 as of 4/23/2013 - also supports notify osd quite well, and setup was much easier than spotify-notify (mentioned below as an answer) – Eric Nemchik Apr 23 '13 at 15:08
It seems that a side effective is that the underlying library that is required for this serves ads. I'm currently sitting in Spotify's screen with it telling me that it can't load "onboarding-popup" once I installed this. If I had to take a guess it's a part of the gir1.2-telepathyglib-0.12 library that I had to install to get this working. – Mark Tomlin Apr 25 '13 at 8:12
Works good, just download and copy to correct directory like written in the documentation. – TIIUNDER Aug 16 '13 at 8:13
Spotify Gnome is no longer needed for Media keys to work – it should work out of the box now! From the README: "This project is no longer required in order to use media keys with Spotify on Gnome. It will not receive any updates going forward." – tanius Jul 10 at 13:47

Disclaimer: I work for Spotify

This was a known missing feature of the linux client, but we added it in version 0.9.4. So while this thread is rather old, it's worth noting that it should now work. If you continue to experience problems with the media keys, then please post a message on the community forums.

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Nik, I can confirm that this is no longer working in spotify-client-qt, which is quite sad, as it looks so nice. – joseeantonior May 21 '14 at 3:45
@joseeantonior it is definitely working for me (version 0.9.10 on Ubuntu 13.10). Sometimes however they stop working, when this happens I usually restart the client and they work again. What distro are you using? – Nik Reiman May 21 '14 at 8:18
They are now working. Looks like a system restart was needed for everything to work in order. I'm using Ubuntu Trusty, with Spotify version – joseeantonior May 24 '14 at 21:39

You can use spotify-notify. Not only does it provide notify-osd notifications, but it also has support for media keys.

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fyi the page says the author is no longer maintaining this package, and the answer above for Spotify-Gnome works just fine, is easier to install, and does everything this recommendation does - still a good find though! – Eric Nemchik Apr 23 '13 at 15:10

The mulitmedia keys have nothing to do with the sound indicator. Reactions to those keys have to be implemented in spotify itself. I don't think there is a workaround. After all the spotify linux client is still beta so there is hope that this feature will be added in a foreseeable time :-)

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It worked for me just fine when I was using 12.10, when I updated to 13.04 Beta, it no longer worked. I wonder what changed to break this, or if it was a beta update that I got from Spotify that broke it. – Mark Tomlin Apr 25 '13 at 7:52

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