The Echo Nest

MS, Spotify, The Echo Nest create visually-oriented playlist creation tool

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 12:10pm

The expert DJ knows the power of not only playing the right songs, but in the right order to create flow. Microsoft and Spotify have teamed with music intelligence firm The Echo Nest and created a visual tool to sort music playlists based on the songs' characteristics.

It's called Mixshape. It uses Spotify's music library, The Echo Nest's database of music data, and is built for Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system's and Internet Explorer 10 web browser's touch-screen interface.

Playlist curators manipulate shapes on the screen to manage the tempo of the song flow. The shapes are arranged in song order, with different colors to represent key, shapes for "feel," and speed of the animation represents tempo and energy. When the playlist has been properly shaped, it can be exported to Spotify, where it can be played and shared via social media.

MixShape launched today in the UK, but should be accessible in all of Spotify's markets.

The Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese will take part in the "Accelerating Your Audience Growth" panel at RAIN Summit West April 7 in Las Vegas. Spotify VP/West Coast Ad Sales Michael Jackel will speak on the "Jump Start Your Revenue" panel. More details (and registration link) here.

Read more about Mixshape at TheNextWeb here; also in The Echo Nest's blog here. The Mixshape site is here.

Mobile app combines 13 million song online library with listener's local tracks to create custom streams

Friday, March 22, 2013 - 1:05pm

Thought this looked cool: an Android mobile app called Magic Radio that creates custom streams of music that combines 7Digital's 13 million-song library with the listener's local collection and playlists.

The app, made by a company called Double Twist, uses music intelligence from The Echo Nest to create the streams, which can be further customized by the user. Note that when music from the listener's local collection is part of the stream, there's savings in both data usage/bandwidth, and royalty obligation (since the user already possesses a copy of the music, it isn't being "publicly performed.")

The service is $4/month, and Double Twist is offering a free 7-day trial. There's a video demo here. Read more in Hypebot here.

Algorithmic intelligence still needs the "human touch," says NYT

Monday, March 11, 2013 - 12:10pm

As powerful and important as computer algorithms have become for any number of problems, The New York Times reports today that human judgement is still integral for nearly any service using them. Since "computers themselves are literal-minded, and context and nuance often elude them," it's still very necessary to have "people evaluate, edit or correct an algorithm’s work... assemble online databases of knowledge and check and verify them... (and) interpret and tweak information in ways that are understandable to both computers and other humans."

Even at Google, "where algorithms and engineers reign supreme," humans are contributing more to search results, writes The Times (Just one example: Type a celebrity's name in the Google search bar, and you'll probably see a summary about that person on the right-hand side of the results page... those are drawn from human-edited databases.).

Read more in The New York Times here.

Firms like The Echo Nest use algorithms to assemble databases of "music intelligence." Leading webcaster Pandora uses its own combination of music analyzed by humans but assembled in playlists by algorithm (though likely with significant influence of the "thumbs up/thumbs down" listener ratings it collects). As a marketing strategy, several other webcasters recently have positioned themselves as "curated by music experts, not algorithms" (more in RAIN here).

"Accelerating Your Audience Growth" at RAIN Summit features execs from Sirius, Pandora, ABC Radio News

Friday, March 1, 2013 - 3:20pm

It's said that the premium in our digital economy is "attention" -- listeners simply don't have the time to consume every bit of content that's churned out. Your marketing needs to effectively attract audience, and your programming needs to be compelling to keep listeners. Certainly your potential audience is the world, but you have global-scale competition too. And new technology is constantly giving potential listeners new options across so many digital platforms -- print and video as well as audio. So what are the best practices to get more new listeners, and how do you get your existing listeners to listen more?

For this April's RAIN Summit West in Las Vegas, we've assembled the "Accelerating Your Audience Growth" panel to address these very questions.

SiriusXM knows about listeners. They ended 2012 with nearly 24 million subscribers, a record for the company. Sirius also reported $3.4 billion in revenue, also a record. We welcome to RAIN Summit Rachna Bhasin, SVP/Corporate Strategy and Business Development at Sirius XM Radio. Her background working for EMI Music will be valuable in our audience growth discussion.

Alan Burns (upper left) laid the groundwork for his Alan Burns & Associates research and consultancy firm with experience as a former major market program director, on-air talent, and researcher. Alan Burns & Associates produces the "Here She Comes: Insights into Women, Radio, and New Media" study.

ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones (middle right) returns to the RAIN Summit stage. He's leader of a team that creates audio and text content for terrestrial radio, Internet radio, satellite radio, and mobile distribution -- including customizable news/lifestyle content for Slacker Radio. He's twice been awarded "News Executive of the Year."

Another returning RAIN Summit vet is Jim Lucchese (lower left) CEO of music intelligence company The Echo Nest. Jim's company powers many of the music services that "adapt" to a listener's tastes: Echo Nest APIs have been used for more than 350 apps for companies like Spotify, Nokia, Vevo, and Clear Channel's iHeartRadio. The Echo Nest raised $17.3m of funding in 2012.

The bulk of Internet radio's audience are Pandora listeners: 1.39 billion hours of listening in January, 65.6 million active listeners, and a 7.19% share of U.S. radio listening. Chris Martin, Pandora's VP/Engineering (bottom right), manages software development, quality assurance, customer support, device development, device certification, and production support. His efforts helped Pandora forge 20 U.S. auto partnerships and get the app in 85 different car models.

RAIN Summit West is Sunday, April 7 in Las Vegas. The annual full-day Internet radio conference is a co-located education program of the NAB Show. Now in its 12th year, the Summit focuses on the intersection of radio and the Internet. Keynoting the even will be RAB president and CEO Erica Farber (more in RAIN here) and Rhapsody International president Jon Irwin (more here). Register today, while flights and hotels are still readily available, via the RAIN Summit West page.

The Echo Nest co-founder talks "nuts & bolts" on how services find and recommend music to fans

Monday, December 17, 2012 - 12:40pm

Here's a great read from The Echo Nest co-founder Brian Whitman, explaining some of the logic on which various "music recommendation" services (including his company's) is based.

Whitman reviews both the various applications for music recommendation, and the different methods services use to assemble the data that powers their recommendations.

But more importantly, he gives a brief explanation of the two main methods behind his company's data collection: text analysis (what humans say about music) and acoustic analysis (the qualities of music that a machine can determine) -- and shows how using both of these methods enables The Echo Nest to achieve the necessary "care" and "scale" needed to be a powerful and useful service.

Read "How music recommendation works — and doesn’t work" here.

Rdio to improve customizable radio offering with The Echo Nest data

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - 1:35pm

Rdio, like several subscription on-demand music companies (Spotify, MOG), has long offered "artist radio stations" -- that is, "radio" streams of one or more user-selected artists. They've now announced a partnership with The Echo Nest to use the latter's "music intelligence" services to vastly improve the radio offering.

In April, GigaOM reported that Rdio was looking to "become more like Pandora," and was developing a custom online radio feature (our coverage here) The web-based version of Rdio will offer the Echo Nest-powered streaming radio beginning this week. Rdio also promises more offerings based on the new partnership with The Echo Nest.

Rdio was created by Skype co-founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis.

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