The Echo Nest

If you have a minute, One Minute Radio has your song

Friday, August 16, 2013 - 12:15pm

Got a minute? Check out One Minute Radio.

MusicMachinery.com reports it's an experimental, multi-genre online radio app (based on The Echo Nest data) which exclusively plays tracks clocking in at under sixty seconds.

"Now I can’t testify that you’ll always get a great sounding playlist – you’ll hear intros, false starts and novelty songs throughout, but it is certainly interesting," says MusicMachinery.

If nothing else, One Minute Radio is likely playing "more songs per hour" than the competition. The MusicMachinery blog piece is here, and One Minute Radio is here.

By the way, The Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese will moderate the "Streaming Music Trends" panel September 17 at RAIN Summit Orlando. More details are here.

MusicRadiator: A "lean-back" web app by The Echo Nest offers hundreds of genre streams

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 1:20pm

MusicRadiator is pretty cool "music discovery" web app engineers from The Echo Nest put together, that streams music from various artists by genre (In other words, it's what the vast majority of consumers and less-uptight professionals would term "radio." I know!).

All a listener need do is choose from the bewilderingly vast array of genres (really, it might be awhile before we get to "mandopop," "trapstep," and "Albanian pop") and listen. Actually, one needn't even do that: the channel "The EchoNest Discovery," a multi-genre stream of "brand-shiny-new songs that you're hearing before pretty much anybody else" launches as soon as the app loads.

It's built on Rdio's music library (Rdio is a client of The Echo Nest), so only Rdio customers hear full songs (otherwise, it's 30-second snippets). Listeners can skip forwards and backwards, and rate songs ("thumbs down" and it won't be played for you again, "thumbs up" and the song is added to your Rdio collection).

Check out MusicRadiator here. Evolver.fm covers the app here.

Powered by The Echo Nest, new Rdio Stations includes automatically generated customized You FM

Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 12:25pm

On-demand music service Rdio is making a big push towards delivering music in a personalized radio style, with its "new and improved" Stations feature.

Many have made the case that while a true on-demand, "pull" service allows listeners maximum flexibility (you simply choose whatever you want to hear), a more "radio-style" presentation makes for an easier "lean back" listening experience, and can introduce a listener to new music relevant to their tastes, couched within familiar favorites. As on-demand music services have evolved their offerings in the past few years, we've seen them paying more attention to improving their radio-style services

Rdio's new Stations is powered by data from The Echo Nest, which also announced the new service in its blog.

One cool feature is called "You FM." It's a custom stream based on an Rdio user's listening history, song ratings, Facebook likes, Twitter follows -- which is constantly updated as this data changes. It can also be manually customized. Similarly, "Friend FM" uses a listener's Rdio friend's tastes to generate a streaming music stations.

Rdio Stations also offers more than 400 of the traditional genre- (and what it calls "sub-genre") radio stations. Users can also generate stations based on a favorite artist of song (in the Pandora vein). Finally, if a listener chooses to listen to something "on-demand" (say, a full album), the "AutoPlay" radio function will continue to play music similar to the choosen piece after that piece is complete (competitor MOG can do this as well).

All Rdio stations allow users to skip songs, and replay songs as well (this is an on-demand subscription service, after all). But they allow further customization by way of a five-position setting that ranges from "Popular" (well-known songs) to "Adventurous" (deeper cuts). Finally, Rdio is using a "full-screen" takeover for the player, with a very simplified control icons in favor of huge, colorful CD cover images.

In a blog entry, The Echo Nest explains how its data helps power the new Rdio Stations. "We've spent over a decade researching and developing ways to understand Musical Identity. For each person, we develop an individual Taste Profile. To build You FM and Friend FM, Rdio worked closely with The Echo Nest to extend each user’s Taste Profile across the entire world of music, creating a radio representation of your taste, or that of any of your friends."

The Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese will moderate a panel at the September 17th RAIN Summit Orlando. More details soon.

Read more from The Echo Nest here; more on Rdio's Stations in Engadget here.

Which musical artists do "rom-com" fans listen to? Read The Echo Nest's new blog

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 12:50pm

The Echo Nest has introduced a new blog called "Musical Identity," with which they plan to regularly share the insights they accumulate by recording how listeners interact with music online.

A "music intelligence" company, The Echo Nest provides to clients an enormous stockpile of information about music -- over a trillion data points on more than 30 million songs -- based on how people listen, purchase, write about, and interact with music.

"We plan to present a series of data-based posts examining music fans from different angles. We’re hoping this will be interesting, and possibly even amusing, but it’s also a way for us to expose the depth of our understanding of not only music, but music fans too," The Echo Nest wrote to introduce the blog.

One of the purposes, by the way, of compiling this data -- and the first topic of the new blog -- deals with "cross-media understanding." In today's case: how a person's "musical identity" predicts taste in movies, and vice-versa. Read that here.

Deeper understanding of listener expectations and preferences key to building audience, say Summit experts

Friday, April 19, 2013 - 1:50pm

Unsurprisingly, the panelists in our RAIN Summit "Accelerating Your Audience Growth" panel stressed the importance of good, "differentiating" content to build an audience -- especially as music (and even news) becomes "commoditized."

More interesting was this point: An important step towards delivering the right content is a more thorough understanding of your listeners.

Edison Research cofounder/president Larry Rosin (left) moderated this first panel of the afternoon half of the Las Vegas Summit. He asked Pandora VP of Engineering Chris Martin about Pandora's "genre" stations

[sidenote: Pandora not only creates channels "on the fly" by asking the listener for a favorite song or artist, it also offers more traditional radio-style channels programmed by genre, e.g. country or pop hits]

Martin (right) explained them as the product of realizing that not all Pandora listeners come to discover new music. Rather, these channels are an "entry point" for those listeners who want a "super simple" experience based around artists they already know.

Rachna Bhasin is SiriusXM SVP/Corporate Strategy and Business Development (lower on the left). She explained SiriusXM is always looking for new content and talent intended to drive more subscriptions. Those efforts are informed by significant amounts of research and interviews with listeners, and an understanding of the expectations of "key audience demographics" to develop that content ("We're doing a lot with Latin right now," she illustrated.)

The Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese introduced his company's concept of "audience clusters" as an example of understanding the listener to deliver the right content.

[The Echo Nest is a "music intelligence" service with a massive database on listeners preferences and musical attributes of millions of songs, which is used by services like Spotify and iHeartRadio (and SiriusXM's new MySXM customizable streaming service).] 

Putting "a real keen focus" on understanding the listener, Lucchese explained, means looking at "clustering audiences into different types of music listeners" and examining how different underlying programming rules need to be applied for those different clusters.

"We found different 'rule sets' drive engagement wildly differently based on (listeners') geography, (preferred) style of music... you need to understand your fan base better before messing around with rules."

Rosin followed up with a question on how The Echo Nest client services learn about listener preferences, especially new listeners. Lucchese (right) explained some services can scan a new listener's local media library (by examining their iTunes XML file, for instance) to get a sense of the listener. There's also public preferences expressed on social media (such as Facebook 'likes'). Then, of course, later the services can simply track "what you listen to" -- and, importantly -- "how you react to it and build that up over time."

The Echo Nest CEO spoke directly to broadcasters and advised them to improve their streams by spending more time "focusing on and understanding" their audience: "Online listeners provide you with a ton of information about who they are. We're still in the stone age about recognizing not just what they like, but how they listen. Developing that will make a more engaging experience, and a more profitable one," he said.

Speaking to this very point, ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones (left) described how he wants this guide the development of his service.

For a hypothetical 28-year old country music listener, Jones' company has vast amounts of "non- fiction spoken word" that she'd find of interest (she could learn how to "advance her career, manage her boss, get relationship advice").

"We can't yet, but what I'm excited about is being able to, when that listener is finished listening to a Taylor Swift song to let her know there's an opportunity right now to drive that listening experience into one of those other areas," Jones said. "That, to me, is the future, to control how listeners are going to consume audio beyond any one narrow niche..."

SiriusXM's Bhasin even returned to the theme of "understanding the listener" when discussing Apple's expected entry into streaming radio: "They have lots of data" on purchase history and customer preferences from which they can draw to program the right content. "They're trying to build curation now."

Consultant Alan Burns (Alan Burns & Associates president/CEO) (right) even suggested streaming broadcasters and pureplay webcasters could look to each other for better ways to present content.

"What radio needs to do most of all, the thing that would boost online listening to (music) radio streams," Burns said, is to "make broaddcast streams skippable" (that is, replicate the ability of most Net-only streaming experiences in which a listener can instantly skip to the next song).

For pureplays, his advice was that "jukeboxes don't hold up as well" as programming with "deeper branding and content." Pureplays need to create experiences "that will help them develop the personal bond you get with traditional radio," he suggested.

You can listen to the audio of "Accelerating Your Audience Growth" from RAIN Summit West. Go to RAIN's homepage to find all the RAIN Summit West audio in the right-hand column.

SiriusXM launches customized streaming to mobile devices, powered by The Echo Nest

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 3:20pm

Satellite radio broadcaster SiriusXM yesterday officially launched its "personalizable" streaming radio component, MySXM. The service had been available on the web for a few months, and had pleased some early reviewers (in RAIN in February here and March here).

As of this week, it's also now available on Android and iOS mobile platforms.

MySXM listeners can customize 50 music or comedy streams by adjusting three "sliders." The sliders scale the proportion of material in the stream according to the slider settings. For instance, a listener may lean towards different levels of "Popularity,"  different "Eras," "Styles," and more.

The service uses music intelligence from The Echo Nest, which also powers custom streaming services like iHeartRadio.

Coverage from TheNextWeb is here.

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