RAIN 3/29: Integration of Echo Nest API may make Spotify an even more formidable net radio competitor

Michael Schmitt
March 29, 2012 - 11:55am

The Echo NestThe Echo Nest -- the music intelligence platform that powers iHeartRadio's custom radio streams and Spotify's radio service -- has integrated its API with that from Spotify. The partnership makes it "easier for any Spotify app developer to tap The Echo Nest’s music intelligence technology," reports The Next Web. 

Essentially, developers now have Spotify's vast library at their disposal, combined with the wealth of data The Echo Nest provides (related artists, social information, biographies, lyrics and more). The result may be more Spotify apps offering a personalizable radio listening experience.

For an idea of what those apps may be like, look to apps SpotON Radio (pictured left) and Echofi. Both are third-party services that run outside of Spotify, but use data from The Echo Nest to build personalizable radio stations out of music from Spotify. You can find RAIN coverage on SpotON Radio here and Echofi here.

SpotON RadioAs earlier mentioned, The Echo Nest powers the customizable radio service on Clear Channel's iHeartRadio and Spotify's own official radio service. Its API will now include Spotify song IDs, as well as data from Twitter, Facebook, Lyricfind, MusixMatch, 7Digital, EMI, Free Music Archive, MusicBrainz, Rdio and Seatwave.

"With all these partners on board," writes Billboard (here), "the Echo Nest is developing an intricate web of music listening knowledge, and app developers that want to launch on Spotify's platform can use that information to help build playlisting, radio, music recommendation and music discovery into their apps, making them more versatile and dynamic."

Some of Spotify's existing third-party apps include offerings from Last.fm, Moodagent, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and many others (RAIN coverage here and here). You can find more coverage from The Next Web here and Hypebot here.

Spotify also just announced it's lifting listening limits for free users (which Spotify monetizes with advertising). You can find more coverage here.

If you want to learn more about Spotify, The Echo Nest and the future of personalizable radio on the Internet, we invite you to attend RAIN Summit West 2012. It will feature members of Spotify, The Echo Nest, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Slacker and other services as speakers. You can find out more about the upcoming conference here.

Paul Maloney
March 29, 2012 - 11:55am

Significant growth of digital performance royalties, music subscriptions, and download sales pushed U.S. record industry revenues into positive territory in 2011 for the first time since 2004, the RIAA reports.

SoundExchange distributed $292 million in digital performance royalties (the fees webcasters and satellite radio pay to play copyright recordings) to labels and performers last year, an increase of 17% over 2010.

Music subscription services (e.g. Spotify) paid the industry $241 million in 2011, 13% more than in 2010.

And digital downloads accounted for $2.6 billion, up 17% from the prior year. For the first time ever in a a single year, digital album sales topped 100 million digital albums. In fact, the 9.2% overall digital sales growth offset the decline in physical decrease of 7.7%.

"Overall, digital formats comprised slightly above 50% of total music shipments in the United States, as digital became more than half the market for the first time ever," the RIAA press release reads. "No longer just a niche, digital music has shown it can be a model - or perhaps more accurately a variety of models - for the music industry going forward." Read it here.

Michael Schmitt
March 29, 2012 - 11:55am

Bob PittmanClear Channel CEO Bob Pittman says the custom radio stations on iHeartRadio will remain ad-free for "a few more months," according to the AP.

When Clear Channel officially launched iHeartRadio's custom stations in October of 2011, it said the service would remain ad-free through the end of the year (RAIN coverage here). Then the company announced it wouldn't serve ads on the service until April 1, 2012 (more here).

Now Pittman says the deadline has been pushed back again as Clear Channel tries to figure out how to make in-stream ads "more 'compatible' with the user experience." He fears existing Internet radio ads on servces like Pandora are "disruptive and annoying" to users. 

You can find the AP's coverage here.

Paul Maloney
March 29, 2012 - 11:55am

It seems as if Pandora founder Tim Westergren got some of his numbers confused when when comparing his company's streaming numbers to those of the entire UK (as reported in RAIN this week here).

The Pandora founder was suggesting that prohibitively high royalty rates would continue to keep his company from entering the UK market, in turn depriving both that country's consumers and copyright owners and performers of a healthy Internet radio sector. Westergren told PaidContent that his service, in a single day, basically matched the number of hours all Net radio services in the UK streamed in the entire fourth quarter of last year.

"The total number of hours spent listening to internet radio in the U.K. in the fourth quarter of 2011 was 35 million," said Westergren. "By contrast, Pandora alone streamed 975 million hours in the U.S. in just the most recent month."

Oops. RAJAR (the official body for measuring radio audiences in the UK) CEO Jerry Hill later told the newssource, "The actual number was 35 million hours per week , not 35 million hours for the quarter as Pandora had quoted you."

What's more, Westergren's comparison doesn't take into account the obvious population disparity between the two countries, the differences in methodology between RAJAR metrics and his own company's, and fundamental differences in the radio industry as a whole in the UK.

Perhaps still a valid point Westergren makes, but we wanted to correct the math error, as PaidContent has.