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The Echo Nest: Where Big Data Is Taking the Music Industry

CEO explains the role of big data in music

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A trend known as “big data” is hitting the tech industry as consumers are sharing more and more data about themselves online through social networks, blogs, and more. The term has been given to the continually growing data sets that Internet systems collect. As a result, many businesses have risen up in an effort to make use of this vast information.

President Obama is even watching the situation and announced a $200 million initiative last week that hopes to “solve some of the Nation’s most pressing challenges.”

“In the same way that past federal investments in information-technology R&D led to dramatic advances in supercomputing and the creation of the internet, the initiative we are launching today promises to transform our ability to use Big Data for scientific discovery, environmental and biomedical research, education, and national security,” said Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in a statement.

What improvements do you think big data could bring? Let us know in the comments.

Jim Lucchese, CEO of The Echo Nest One area that big data is already being utilized in is the music industry. The Echo Nest, a music intelligence company, has been working for more than 5 years in this area. According to Jim Lucchese, the company’s CEO, The Echo Nest’s founders created software that allows them to listen to music and understand multiple musical attributes including the pitch, tempo, time signature, and key.

From there, the company uses cultural analysis to find out what everyone is saying across blogs, social networks, and other sites about music.

“By combining that cultural understanding and that content understanding, really what we’re trying to get at is all of the different things that inform how you connect with music [and] how your friends connect around music,” said Lucchese.

The Echo Nest makes this data available in an API in order to allow app developers to build on it. While many of the company’s partners utilize the data for discovery purposes, Lucchese told us that it is used in other ways as well.

“Not only can we understand you as a music fan and help you connect to music that you’ve never heard before, but we can also help you understand that music in interesting ways,” he said.

The company recently announced a second integration with Spotify that focuses on the developer’s ecosystem. Up to this point, The Echo Nest has powered Spotify’s radio service and music discovery, but now the companies are mapping their APIs to connect independent developers to Spotify’s content and audience.

“It makes it much easier for independent application developers to create really innovative ways to interact on Spotify,” said Lucchese.

Earlier this week, The Echo Nest also announced an integration with Raditaz, the Pandora competitor that launched in January. Raditaz is unique in its geolocation layer that enables users to see what music is trending locally. Tom Brophy, Raditaz’s CEO, detailed this distinctive element in the below interview with WPN.

Lucchese told us that this partnership was another way of “applying big data to drive music discovery.”

As for the future, Lucchese indicated that The Echo Nest has big plans. According to him, music plays a big role in defining who people are. For this reason, the company hopes to take music intelligence to a new level and bring like-minded music fans together.

“The Echo Nest user taste profiling ability is powering a lot of interesting and innovative ways to help people make social connections through the lens of music preference,” he said.

“If last year was a lot about music playlisting, I think this year’s gonna be really characterized by musical identity – how people express it [and] how people use it to make connections with each other,” Lucchese added.

He went on to say that, if this happens, developers and advertisers would have many new opportunities. What’s more, it would bring other players such as publishers, mobile manufacturers, and automotive makers into the music industry since they desire to reach their customers, which could easily involve connecting people with music.

“The real aim is really simple and intuitive, and that is just: people feel very passionate about their music tastes, and the more informed you can be in helping to facilitate the connection, the more value you’re giving consumers and your audience,” said Lucchese.

The Echo Nest: Where Big Data Is Taking the Music Industry
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