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The World's Most Wanted Music Is Created by Icelanders & Islanders

Mon, 24 Mar 2014 11:29:48 -0400

The islands of Jamaica and the United Kingdom produce a disproportionate number of musical styles and artists, according to musical legend. The world of pop music would be missing huge pieces, the thinking goes, had these islands submerged before the invention of electricity. Taking this concept beyond mere anecdote and into the realm of data-based reality, The Echo Nest principal engineer and “data alchemist” Glenn McDonald says he “took The Echo Nest’s ten thousand most up-and-coming songs by relatively unknown artists (a.k.a. our Discovery list), found the artists responsible for them, determined those artists’ countries, counted the number of artists per country, and then prorated the counts by population to create a ranking of countries by proportional discovery share – and then I did the same again, ranking by hotness instead of discovery.” What this means: You’re about to see two lists consisting of countries that punch above their weight in terms of producing the artists who – this month – are captivating the world in two important ways. Discovery As we said when we first announced The Echo Nest Discovery, our computers spend a lot of time scouring the web, figuring out what people are listening to and talking about. And then we do some math. Actually, we do a lot of math. Then we take the result of that math, and feed it into yet more math. When our system has finished processing all of this music and what people are saying about it, one of the many numbers that pops out is a Discovery score for every song in the universe. The point of this number is to identify songs that are heating up right now, but which aren’t yet big hits, having been created by artists who are not yet established. According to The Echo Nest Discovery (listen on Spotify), the following countries spawned the most relatively unknown artists that have recorded songs that people are only just now getting excited about. Here’s the list of countries from the above Discovery map. We’ve bolded the islands, and will explain why later: Iceland Sweden Finland Norway United Kingdom Denmark Ireland United States Australia Netherlands New Zealand Canada Jamaica Belgium Austria Germany France Switzerland Puerto Rico Spain Poland Slovakia Israel Italy Greece South Korea Brazil Argentina Chile Mexico Romania Japan Russia South Africa Colombia Indonesia Scandinavian countries claim the top four spots on our Discovery list, and five of the top ten. Perhaps there’s something about being stuck indoors making music in the winter, in a place that is already quite cold, that is conducive to making music that other people want to discover – or at least that’s what happened this year. Now, about those islands. About a quarter of all countries in the world are island nations, according to Dana Ott as cited by Wikipedia. Our Discovery list contains about 19 percent islands, meaning that island nations are actually slightly underrepresented, although they do rank fairly high in terms of producing music that is just now being discovered. Now, let’s look at where some more popular music comes from. “Hotttnesss” The Echo Nest’s deep musical intelligence also knows which songs are getting the most buzz – not just how they’re charting, or how many times they’ve been played, but how much people all over the world are talking about and sharing them. We call this buzz-measuring score “Hotttnesss” (listen on Spotify). Glenn also ranked the world’s countries by the number of “hottt” artists they have right now in our list of the top 10K hottest songs, relative to their populations. Once again, we’ve bolded the island countries – and just for kicks, italicized countries that are on peninsulas or otherwise are bordered by large bodies of water (i.e. they have fewer direct neighbors): Iceland Jamaica Puerto Rico Sweden United Kingdom Guadeloupe Norway United States Finland Ireland Australia Bosn[...]



Winners and Finalists from the First Ever SXSW Music Hackathon Championship

Fri, 14 Mar 2014 18:01:00 -0400

Longtime SXSW attendees feel like they’ve seen it all, as the music, film, and technology festival seems to get bigger and busier each and every year. But one thing they’d never seen is an official SXSW music hack day… until this week. At the first ever SXSW Music Hackathon Championship, hackers invented and toiled through Wednesday night into Thursday, pausing briefly for performances by the Grammy-nominated Andrew Duhon, who drew about 60 music hackers into the AT&T Lounge for a private show, as well as a 3:30am moshpit of sorts that formed around rapper Kosha Dillz’ freestyling, self-DJed set. “He could have, like, crowsurfed the crowd,” recalled SXSW Music Hackathon Championship organizer and MC Travis Laurendine (pictured below announcing the finalists). “That’s how hype it was.” According to one attendee, some of the more serious hacker types retreated from the shows to continue their work, but the performances were certainly fitting for the first official SXSW Music hackathon. With the grand prize winner slated to be announced tonight, without further ado, we’re happy to announce that, out of all the hacks created there, The Echo Nest’s two sponsor prizes went to: SongStash lets artists or other people drop songs for each other to hear at certain locations around Austin, or any other city: src="//player.vimeo.com/video/89027933" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen> Neon lets people drop any audio files onto its interface, then uses The Echo Nest’s Analyze (.pdf) to identify the segments and determine their sonic properties. With all that out of the way, users can create music through a pure color interface: The overall grand prize finalists, from which the grand prize winners will be chosen, are: ARPop - Augmented Reality Instruments for Lady Gaga Beats Video Booths, Bands, and Beacons Crowd Scaler Glass Karaoke Hype Lamb Moot Party Play SongStash Winners will be announced tonight, March 14, 2014, in Ballroom D at the Austin Convention Center.[...]



The Echo Nest Joins Spotify!

Thu, 06 Mar 2014 09:36:00 -0500

We’re very excited to announce that The Echo Nest is joining Spotify, starting today! We can’t imagine a better partner for our next chapter. Spotify shares the intense care for the music experience that was the founding principle of our company, and it’s clearly winning the hearts and minds of music fans around the globe. Our dedicated team of engineers, scientists, music curators, business, and product people are utterly electrified with the potential of bringing our world-leading music data, discovery, and audience understanding technology directly to the biggest music streaming audience out there. Together, we’re going to change how the world listens. We started this company nine years ago in a kitchen at the MIT Media Lab, our dissertation defenses looming. We never wanted to do anything but fix how people were discovering music. None of the technologies in those days were capable of understanding music at scale. We both were working on our separate approaches, that, when combined, could really do that. All the while, we were watching the world of music change around us. We knew some version of Spotify was to come, and that the real power was in that beautiful moment when you found a new band or song to love. Every decision we’ve made since then, including today’s announcement, was made from that vantage point of care and often insane passion. Starting a company is a bit crazy. You get the idea you can build a family from scratch and let them loose on the problem that drives you. We moved into an empty room in Somerville, MA in 2005, were soon joined by our CEO Jim Lucchese, and then grew a team of around 70 people, all through the power of communicating our one big idea. It’s hard to overstate how special this place is. With the team we have, we always have every expectation we can do whatever it takes in the service of music. We’ve written a lot of code, we’ve invented technology that will power the future of music for decades to come, we manage reams of data, and we work with everyone in the business. But the true power of this place stems from the people: an amazing family, fully dedicated to building the future of music. We had such great help on the way. Tristan & Brian’s advisor at MIT and one of the fathers of computer music, Barry Vercoe, supported us through seed investment when we graduated, and when Jim joined, we brought on our dear friends Andre and Dorsey Gardner at Fringe Partners. As we grew, we tapped the great support of Elliot at Commonwealth, Antonio at Matrix and then Jeff at Norwest. And in between was the help and support from dozens of family and friends. We couldn’t have done it without them. Obviously, moving from behind the curtain to the front stage comes with its own share of questions and challenges. We’ve been lucky enough to work with a wide range of creative companies and independent developers who showed the world what could be done with our technology. They helped us craft and refine our product to where it is today. We look forward to working with partners to embrace the new opportunity to build apps and services using The Echo Nest and Spotify. As we explore this new direction, we’ll help each other move forward. When we began talking with our longtime friends at Spotify about working together, it became clear how much they share our vision: care for the cause of music at scale. We spent our first weeks together just giddy at the potential of all that special Echo Nest magic working directly with the world’s best place for music. You’re about to see some great stuff from the new Echo Nest-enabled Spotify, and we’re excited to hear what you think. We’re all staying in town, our API stays up, and every single person at our company will continue to focus on building the future of music. Talk to you soon; we’ve got some work to do. For more information, see our press release. – Brian, Tristan, and Jim with Aaron[...]



We Built This City On...

Wed, 05 Mar 2014 16:07:00 -0500

“We built this city on rock ‘n roll,” observed the '80s band Starship.

Which city? Contenders include San Francisco, or possibly New York or Cleveland, depending on the verse.

So, what kinds of music are these cities, not to mention many others, actually “built on?” The Echo Nest’s world-leading music discovery solution can tell us. By combining our data about where artists are from with the kind of music they play, The Echo Nest principal engineer Glenn McDonald determined the kinds of music with which a whole slew of cities are most associated.

The results are fascinating.

Some are obvious – one would expect Honolulu to be “built on” Hawaiian music, Reykjavík on Icelandic pop, and Paris on French indie pop. As Glenn points out, these more obvious findings confirm that the system is working.

The less obvious conclusions are even more interesting, with that in mind. You should check out “We Built This City On” for yourself, but first, a few observations:

London is home to the artists of more distinct music genres than any other city. Next come New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo, Nashville, Chicago, Detroit, Rio de Janeiro, and the rest.

“Remember the song 'Pop Musik,’ with its lyric, 'New York, London, Paris, Munich / Everybody talk about: pop music’? Now we can correct it to, 'London, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris,’” observes Glenn. “Munich, data reveals, is no more important pop music-wise than Minneapolis or Miami.”

San Francisco, as possibly featured in Starship’s “We Built This City,” is mostly “built on” jangle rock, as well as hyphy, downtempo fusion, jam bands, deep ambient, new age piano, glitch hop, neo-pagan, noise pop, neo-psychedelic, psych gaze, riot grrrl, and funk. San Francisco is also strongly associated with Ethiopian pop; we confirmed many of the bands are from there; an Ethiopian pop band in the tech hub of San Francisco might be more likely to distribute their music on worldwide streaming services than one based in Ethiopia.

Cleveland didn’t make the list. Perhaps the “heart of rock 'n roll” has migrated.

Read the whole “We Built This City On” list.




AirPair Adds Support for The Echo Nest

Tue, 04 Mar 2014 12:03:00 -0500

The great thing about APIs like ours is that they let developers integrate mountains of functionality and data without having to build it all themselves. By combining multiple APIs, they can make amazing things fairly rapidly (the same principle that guides the Music Hack Day series we sponsor).

However, APIs don’t build themselves into products on their own. People have to do that. To help them, a startup called AirPair is offering live, online consultations with API experts, as reported by TechCrunch.

We’re pleased to announce that The Echo Nest’s API is one of those supported by AirPair, making it easier for developers to build whatever they can dream up, using our world-leading music intelligence data. AirPair’s experts can help developers in a number of languages, at a moment’s notice – a valuable new resource for developers working with our API.

In addition to The Echo Nest, other AirPair-supported APIs include AdRoll, Algolia, Balanced, Evernote, Framed Data, Human API, Keen IO, Searchmetrics, SendGrid, Sendwithus, Stripe, TokBox, TrueVault, Twilio, TwoTap, Unbabel, and Vero.




Which Musicians Do People in 50 States Simply Not Have Time For?

Fri, 28 Feb 2014 15:16:59 -0500

Hot on the heels of his widely-viewed maps of the most distinctive and favorite recording artists in each of the 50 states, The Echo Nest director of developer platform Paul Lamere published a new map on Friday highlighting the artists people in each state listen to the least, relative to people in other states.

Based on the anonymized listening data of approximately 250K music-streaming Americans, this latest foray into regional listening preferences depicts the artists that music fans in each state listen to abnormally less than the people in the rest of the country.

As Paul puts it, these are the “Most Ignored Artists” in each state, representing their “anti-preferences”:

(image)

Not only does this make for an interesting conversation piece (what does Florida have against Haim, or Texas against Bon Iver?), but it has possible implications for our Music Discovery & Personalization solution, as Paul notes on his Music Machinery blog:

“If we know where a music listener lives, but we know nothing else about them, we can potentially improve their listening experience by giving them music based upon their local charts instead of the global or national charts. We can also improve the listening even if we don’t know where the listener is from. As we can see from the map, certain artists are polarizing artists, liked in some circles and disliked in others. If we eliminate the polarizing artists for a listener that we know nothing about, we can reduce the risk of musically offending the listener. Of course, once we know a little bit about the music taste of a listener we can greatly improve their recommendations beyond what we can do based solely on demographic info such as the listener location.”

For more details on how the chart was made, as well as a list of the most ignored artists in New Hampshire, check out Paul’s post on Music Machinery.




Each State’s Favorite vs. ‘Most Distinctive’ Artist

Thu, 27 Feb 2014 14:42:38 -0500

A music map created by our amazing director of developer platform Paul Lamere went viral yesterday. You can find his map in today’s print issue of USA Today, or on seemingly any publication concerned with technology or culture.

His map depicts the most “distinctive” artist – distinctive being a technical term meaning that these are the artists most listened to in one state, which are most underrepresented by listening in the other states. This is different from “favorite,” but a definition of the word “distinctive” hardly fits into a headline, leading to pockets of confusion over what the map represented.

To satisfy those who have asked for an actual map of the favorite artist for each state (as opposed to most distinctive), and to clarify the difference between “favorite” and “distinctive,” Paul posted a new map today showing each state’s favorite artist. You can see them both – the most distinctive recording artist for each state, as well each state’s favorite – in his latest post on Music Machinery.

For further exploration into the differences between music fans in one state or region vs. another, try his Regionalisms in U.S. Listening Preferences map.




Music Fans' Most Distinctive Artists by State

Tue, 25 Feb 2014 13:55:00 -0500

The Echo Nest director of developer platform Paul Lamere has determined the recording artist that is most “distinctive” to music fans in any state – that is to say, their favorite artists, relative to the people in other states – and presented his findings in the map below.

Rhode Islanders listen to more Nirvana than people in other states do. Vermonters are, predictably, the biggest Phish Heads, while Oregonians listen to more Kurt Vile than people in other places. The list goes on, and it’s plenty fascinating.

Rather than being based on where artists are from (also interesting), the below chart is based on the real listening behavior of actual music fans. The Echo Nest knows enough about over 35 million songs by about 2.7 million artists to help music fans on 432 apps and services (and counting) find the perfect music for them at that moment. In the course of providing all of these personalized recommendations, we see detailed listening data for millions of anonymous listeners. We can extract all kinds of interesting things from that data about how musical taste varies in various groups of people, based on the real world.

Here’s the map – enjoy. (To delve in deeper, check out Paul Lamere’s Music Machinery blog, where he breaks down the data, and be sure to try the amazing web app he built for finding the biggest listening differences between any two states in the union.)

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See also Lamere’s research into music fans by generation and by gender.

(Subscribe to The Echo Nest’s updates on Twitter or Facebook.)




Generational Conflict Boils Down To Roy Orbison vs. Skrillex

Fri, 14 Feb 2014 13:35:14 -0500

One person’s favorite music is another person’s horrible racket – it’s just the way of the world. When those two people are separated by a generation or two, musical taste can diverge pretty wildly.

The Echo Nest director of developer platform Paul Lamere analyzed anonymized age data for millions of online music listeners on a variety of services. He chose two ages, in an attempt to tease a divergence of taste out of the data: a 13-year old (like Willow Smith) and a 64-year old (like Don Johnson).

His full post on Music Machinery goes into more detail, and it’s all quite interesting, but for now, let’s focus on one of his findings.

(image)

The artist that 13-year-olds play the most, which 64-year-olds also play the least is… Skrillex.

The gulf in musical taste between these groups of people boils down to dubstep, in a sense. The proof: that’s what Skrillex makes, and he’s the single most differentiating artist between these two ages of listener, from the point of view of the 13-year-olds. This is the artist a 13-year-old should play if they want to enjoy themselves while playing a 64-year-old something they probably haven’t heard before.

How about the other way around? Which artist do 64-year-olds listen to the most that 13-year-olds listen to the least?

(image)

It turns out that the dulcet tones of Roy Orbison are the most distinguishing difference between these two groups of listeners, from the point of view of the 64-year-old. So if they want to play something they’ll enjoy that their grandkids hardly ever listen to, Roy Orbison is their man.

One generation’s Roy Orbison is another generation’s Skrillex.

Any physical similarity between Skrillex and Roy Orbison is purely coincidental.

Read the whole deal on Music Machinery.




The Echo Nest Powers NTT Plala’s 'Hikari-TV' in Japan

Tue, 11 Feb 2014 09:00:00 -0500

We’re pleased to announce that NTT Plala’s “Hikari-TV” will now include radio stations and playlists powered by The Echo Nest, as we continue our ongoing global expansion with our second partner in Japan, the world’s second largest music market.

Japan’s NTT’s Plala is more than your typical internet and cellular service provider. It delivers not only connectivity, but also a full suite of entertainment and security options to hundreds of thousands of Japanese set-top boxes and mobile devices.

Japanese subscribers to NTT Plala can now enjoy streaming radio stations and playlists that improve over time for each user, thanks to The Echo Nest’s Taste Profiles, which are persistent, anonymized records of what people listen to, and how they listen to it. Taste Profiles measure everything from a user’s favorite artists and genres to their musical adventurousness and diversity of taste. The more “Hikari-TV” subscribers listen to the service, the more personalized it will become, delivering better and better music recommendations and radio stations for each user.

Only The Echo Nest’s Music Discovery and Personalization solution can provide top-notch recommendations in any area of the world, because it understands not only what people everywhere say about music, but also how it sounds. As such, we are able to provide a mix of Japanese and Western music to “Hikari-TV,” the first commercially-successful service to deliver entertainment over the new IPv6 protocol.

We’re thrilled to welcome “Hikari-TV” to The Echo Nest, and look forward to continuing our worldwide expansion to help redefine how fans discover, share, and interact with music. For additional details about our latest global partner, NTT Plala, check out the full press release.




Data Reveals How Men and Women Differ as Music Fans

Mon, 10 Feb 2014 17:39:59 -0500

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“Men are from Mars and women are from Venus,” as a book famously claimed.

Both of these genders agree, however, that the music of Bruno Mars is well worth a listen – it’s just about every other artist they seem to disagree on.

By analyzing the listening behavior of 200,000 anonymous music fans across a variety of services (self-reported as male or female), The Echo Nest director of developer platform Paul Lamere has drawn fascinating observations about the music, generally speaking, that men and women like to listen to.

His Music Machinery blog has the full story, as well as a full-sized version of the chart previewed above, but here are some key findings:

Only one artist falls in the top five for both genders: Bruno Mars. The same is true of most of the rest of music, according to this data – there’s just not a lot of overlap between the music men and women listen to the most.

About 30 percent of artists skew heavily towards male or female listeners. About 70 percent appeal at least somewhat to both genders.

These artists skew more “female” than any others in the top 1,000:

  • Danity Kane

  • Cody Simpson

  • Hannah Montana

  • Emily Osment

  • Playa LImbo

  • Vanessa Hudgens

  • Sandoval

  • Miranda Lambert

  • Sugarland

  • Aly & AJ

  • Christina Milian

  • Noel Schajris

  • Maria José

  • Jesse McCartney

  • Bridgit Mendler

  • Ashanti

  • Luis Fonsi

  • La Oreja de Van Gogh

  • Michelle Williams

  • Lindsay Lohan

These artists skew more “male” than any others in the top 1,000:

  • Iron Maiden

  • Rage Against the Machine

  • Van Halen

  • N.W.A

  • Jimi Hendrix

  • Limp Bizkit

  • Wu-Tang Clan

  • Xzibit

  • The Who

  • Moby

  • Alice in Chains

  • Soundgarden

  • Black Sabbath

  • Stone Temple Pilots

  • Mobb Deep

  • Queens of the Stone Age

  • Ice Cube

  • Kavinsky

  • Audioslave

  • Pantera

As Paul suggests, music apps and services can use this information to select more gender-neutral artists when they don’t know whether the listener is male or female.

If an app or service does know whether a person is male or female, they can serve up better music by tailoring playlists, streaming radio, recommendations, and more to artists prefered by that genre, and de-emphasizing those that aren’t.

Accounting for gender bias in both directions, the most popular five artists are: Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, and Drake, in that order.

Paul has far more detailed analysis, so for the full story – including which genres skew strongly one way or the other – check out the full post on Music Machinery.




Paul Lamere Reports on Epic MIDEM Music Hack Day

Fri, 07 Feb 2014 12:58:53 -0500

(image)

We really love our Music Hack Days here at The Echo Nest, for a plethora of reasons, chief among them that it’s fun to watch talented visionaries focus their energies on building the future of music for a weekend and then demonstrate their creations to each other.

This most recent MIDEM Music Hack Day in Cannes, France produced a truly stunning array of music apps and hacks. Each of these events are special, as mentioned, but this one really stood out.

Our own director of developer platform and international music hacker Paul Lamere was on hand in the south of France with the rest of the l33t music hackers, which makes him the ideal person to take you on a tour through the best creations from MIDEM Music Hack Day, and the fruits of those who labored there to turn their ideas into realities for us to enjoy.

Paul Lamere’s Music Machinery: Let’s Go To France To Write Some Code

Photo by @neomoha




Fast Company: 'The Next Big Thing In Music? Apps That Read Your Mind'

Wed, 05 Feb 2014 12:03:00 -0500

With tens of millions of songs to choose from, music fans need as much help as they can get to find songs that strike a chord – the perfect song for that person, at that time.

As you can read in this excellent report from Fast Company’s Co.Design, The Echo Nest director of developer platform Paul Lamere has been thinking a lot about the next solution to this problem: the “zero UI” music player – so named because, much like the FM radio, it won’t make you delve into a complicated interface to get music to play – but unlike the radio, it’ll play the right songs for you and your day.

“If you look where the music industry is going, music in the future will be played almost entirely on people’s phones,” Paul told Co.Design. “And your phone knows a lot about you, which is data we can use to predict the music you like.”

Read more:

Follow The Echo Nest on Facebook or Twitter for more news and research.




Eventful Joins The Echo Nest's Rosetta Stone

Wed, 22 Jan 2014 14:06:25 -0500

The world contains many databases about many things, to put it mildly. They’re great at talking to themselves, because, on a basic level, the rows and columns know what’s in the other rows and columns. It’s a trickier proposition to make these databases talk to each other – and yet that’s precisely what has to happen, if music fans are going to be able to buy tickets to see the band whose song they just tagged or “liked” on a music service, to pick a couple examples of things people want to do. Digital music is fragmented across a panoply of websites, apps, and social networks. But the same diversity that makes this such an amazing time for discovering music also hurts music fans, artists, and businesses, because each experience happens in a silo. Rosetta Stone, from The Echo Nest, addresses the problem head-on, by helping all of this stuff work together. We’re announcing today that Eventful, a leading digital media company connecting consumers with entertainment, movies and local events, is now part of the Rosetta Stone platform. As a result, developers will be able to deliver the world’s most comprehensive list of local concert listings to music fans – and have that those listings better hook up with other services. Eventful joining Rosetta Stone means its shows can appear in whatever other apps or services a music fan is using to listen, discover, or identify music. It also knows Twitter and Facebook, so it can put the official artist pages right into any music app, without the developer having to find them all. With over 21 million registered users, Eventful became “the world’s largest collection of events,” with listings for everything “from concerts and sports to singles events and political rallies,” in part through an open API that extends its reach to over 7,000 partners. As such, Eventful is a natural partner for The Echo Nest’s Rosetta Stone platform, which makes APIs even more open and connected by helping them to work much better with other companies’ APIs. The result: a healthier music ecosystem that’s easier to build for – and that’s good for everyone. If you’d like to integrate Eventful’s concert data into your app, service, or website right alongside the Rosetta Stone partners listed below, without having to figure out how to make all of those connections yourself, see our Rosetta Stone documentation for Eventful. The Echo Nest Rosetta Stone Partner Sandboxes now include: 7digital Deezer Discogs Eventful Facebook Free Music Archive JamBase LyricFind MusicBrainz musiXmatch Rhapsody Rdio SeatGeek Seatwave Songkick SongMeanings Spotify Twitter WhoSampled [...]



How P2P University, MIT, and NYU Analyzed Music Taste to Improve Learning

Tue, 21 Jan 2014 15:23:29 -0500

The folks at MIT Media Lab, NYU, and Peer 2 Peer University recently set out to teach the world how to manipulate music with a computer and a browser through interactive classes on PlayWithYourMusic.org.

When 5,282 people registered for the course, their suspicion that people would be interested in this were confirmed. Then, they had a new problem: how to split all of these people into groups, so that the people in each group would be into the same kinds of music. After all, one person’s beautiful bebop is another’s frantic nightmare, some people simply cannot abide reggae, and so on.

Before learning how to produce music together, these students first had to get along as music fans.

“We wanted to put them in groups based on their musical taste hoping to improve group cohesion and collaboration,” writes P2P U. “We decided to use The Echo Nest since they have an API that helps with doing just that! The Echo Nest provides Taste Profiles – a collection of songs or artists representing a user’s musical preference. The Echo Nest can then relate one taste profile to another – higher scores mean that taste profiles are more alike.”

Their full report is worth a read for a few reasons:

  • It shows the need for (and a new application of) Taste Profile Similarity, which segments music fans, so that people with similar taste can be introduced to each other, among other reasons.

  • P2P U, MIT Media Lab, and the NYU Steinhardt faculty members behind PlayWithYourMusic.org found that using grouping people by Taste Profile had a positive side effect: “The idea of being grouped this way appealed to many learners who signed up, and they awaited being assigned to a group with much anticipation. This in turn resulted in higher engagements by the learners around musical interest.”

  • We appreciate a good case study as much as the next people; it’s always interesting to see what happens when the stuff we build gets used in the real world. The problem of splitting thousands of people into hundred groups based on musical taste is an interesting one, and widely applicable beyond the realm of music education.

PlayWithYourMusic is currently accepting students for its next session.

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We're Really Looking Forward to Music Hack Day Tokyo

Fri, 17 Jan 2014 10:00:00 -0500

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Since we helped launch the popular Music Hack Day series as a founding organizer in 2009, we’ve been lucky enough to watch some of the smartest people in the world build every music app they could think of – most recently at our 5th annual Music Hack Day Boston.

One thing we’ve never seen is a Music Hack Day Tokyo, and neither has anyone else.

Japan is the world’s second biggest music market – one reason it’s a focus of The Echo Nest’s continued global expansion. Japan also happens to be the birthplace of the portable music revolution and home to many of the world’s leading technology companies and enthusiasts and a really vibrant music scene.

Its prominence in both music and technology makes Japan’s capital city a perfect Music Hack Day location. To help make this happen, we’ve partnered with the folks at Social Media Week Tokyo to pull this together. We’re extremely excited to see what gets made at Music Hack Day Tokyo using our API, and those of the other sponsor companies (so far, these include The Echo Nest, Gracenote, MusiXMatch, SendGrid, Social Media Week, and Spotify, with more to come). Music Hack Day will reach new developers, and with them, new ideas for music hacks and apps.

In particular, we’re looking forward to seeing what folks build using our new genres, which include at least 16 types of Japanese music.

Music Hack Days are regular events held in cities around the world, where programmers, hardware hackers, musicians, artists, and anyone else who’s interested in the future of music gathers to build new functional music technologies over the course of a single weekend. There were 15 of these last year, and they never fail to impress, in terms of what a room full of clever people can build with our platform.

We’ll see you there, or, rather, 私たちはそこにお会いしましょう

Registration is open for Music Hack Day Tokyo February 22nd and 23rd The Terminal 3F Wave Jingumae 3-22-12 Jingumae Shibuya-ku Tokyo, 150-0001

Image courtesy of The Terminal




The Future of Music Genres Is Here

Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:35:00 -0500

We’ve always felt ambivalent about the word “genre” at The Echo Nest. On one hand, it’s the most universal shorthand for classifying music, because everyone has a basic understanding of the big, old music genres: Rock, Jazz, Classical, and so on. On the other hand, those same basic genres – as helpful as they were for categorizing three rows of vinyl in a record store – are of little use to today’s music fans, as they stare into an abyss of 30 million songs from all over the world. Asking for “Rock” is only slightly better than “Play me some songs that are music.” The Echo Nest API and playlist engine has long supported genre radio and the ability to browse music by “top terms,” which are the words most commonly used to describe a piece of music. They’re far more granular than the big, static genres of the past. We’ve been maintaining an internal list of dynamic genre categories for about 800 different kinds of music. We also know what role each artist or song plays in its genre (whether they are a key artist for that genre, one of the most commonly played, or an up-and-comer). Today, we are opening up our genres through our API. Now, our customers and developer community can access a bunch of new genre-oriented features, including: A list of nearly 800 genres from the real world of music Names and editorial descriptions of every genre Essential artists from any genre Similar genres to any genre Verified explainer links to third-party resources when available Genre search by keyword Ranked genres associated with artists Three radio “presets” for each genre: Core (the songs most representative of the genre); In Rotation (the songs being played most frequently in any genre today); and Emerging (up-and-coming songs within the genre). We’ll be offering these new genre features as enhancements to our Music Discovery & Personalization and Dynamic Music Data solutions, helping our partners deliver a better, more compelling music discovery experience to hundreds of millions of people. Where did these genres come from? First, it’s important to remember that The Echo Nest’s music intelligence platform continuously learns about music. Most other static genre solutions classify music into rigid, hierarchical relationships, but our system reads everything written about music on the web, and listens to millions of new songs all the time, to identify their acoustic attributes. This enables our genres to react to changes in music as they happen. To create dynamic genres, The Echo Nest identifies salient terms used to describe music (e.g., “math rock,” “IDM”, etc.), just as they start to appear. We then model genres as dynamic music clusters – groupings of artists and songs that share common descriptors, and similar acoustic and cultural attributes. When a new genre forms, we know about it, and music fans who listen to our customers’ apps and services will be able to discover it right away, too. Our approach to genres is trend-aware. That means it knows not only what artists and songs fall into a given genre, but also how those songs and artists are trending among actual music fans, within those genres. About 260 of these nearly 800 genres are hyper-regional, meaning that they are tied to specific places. Our genre system sees these forms of music as they actually exist; it can help the curious music fan hear the differences, for instance, between Luk Thung, Benga, and Zim music. These new genres are rolling out today. You can listen to them right now on Every Noise At Once, where we’v[...]



What Music Looks Like Without an Interface

Tue, 14 Jan 2014 13:02:45 -0500

If you have yet to encounter the “zero UI” or “no UI” phenomenon, it’s basically about designing software outside of the traditional model of “a screen plus some controls.”

In such an environment, instead of running an app, opening a search box, and typing in something to listen to, one simply might just listen to the music that’s already playing, because it’s already likely to be something you’ll enjoy at that particular moment.

Rdio’s You FM, powered by The Echo Nest, is a big first step in this direction. It creates a single station based on your Taste Profile – thus “You FM.”

Going forward, the possibilities for “zero UI” music are set to expand, now that our phones now know where we are, what we are doing, where we are going, and more – all of which can be used to play the right music to the right person at the right time.

The Echo Nest director of developer platform Paul Lamere has been thinking about what a “zero UI” music player looks like for many months now.

Check out his post on Music Machinery for more on where he sees “zero UI” going, and how to keep tabs on his progress as he builds a zero-UI music app. You can also read it on Medium.

Stay tuned for more interesting things from The Echo Nest.




2013: The Echo Nest's Biggest Year Yet

Thu, 09 Jan 2014 15:02:43 -0500

In 2013, The Echo Nest’s music intelligence leadership hit the next level. We doubled down on our world-leading Music Discovery & Personalization and Dynamic Music Data solutions. We introduced Music Audience Understanding, which extends our leading personalization technology to help music services improve marketing and advertising. And, we expanded around the world. Let’s take a stroll past the year’s greatest hits… We were thrilled to add over 20 new customers through the course of the year, including Gaana, Microsoft, Nuance, and Rhapsody. We now serve over one billion API queries per month. Queries to our platform have increased tenfold over the past year. We we took “Musical Identity” from concept to solution. Our Taste Profile technology builds a deep understanding of each (anonymous) listener on a music service to improve their overall experience, and adds value to the services themselves. Taste Profile adoption increased tenfold. We launched a new client services team to support our 70-plus customers and partners, while also kicking off a formal customer training and developer/partner program. As anyone who reads this blog probably already knows, we did a ton of work in the world of Genres in 2013. Through our API, you can now explore over 800 dynamic, ever-changing micro-genres of music (check them out here), along with several hundred dynamic, region-specific genres supporting our continued global expansion into over 50 countries including Denmark, Germany, India, Japan, Poland, Sweden, and Venezuela. We helped Sirius XM, the biggest music subscription service in the world, allow listeners to customize expert-curated stations with MySXM. We unveiled new music attributes such Acousticness, Currency, Discovery, Artist Location, and regionalized Hotttness. We announced a partnership with Getty, offering direct access to Getty’s amazing images through our API. We were all over the news. Some of the most interesting coverage included Every Noise At Once, our investigation into how music has changed since the ‘50s, our early work into Audience Understanding with movies, and a hilarious social media dust-up between our director of developer community Paul Lamere and fans of the girl group Fifth Harmony. Our amazing, brilliant, insane, music-obsessed team was responsible for all of this. Much love to each and every one of you. To stay updated on our progress in 2014, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.[...]



Hottest Songs & Biggest Music Discoveries of 2013

Mon, 06 Jan 2014 14:30:00 -0500

Did you notice the calendar switch from 2013 to 2014? This seems to happen every year, bringing a deluge of end-of-year lists, especially where music is concerned. Still, we promise you have yet to see anything like the 2013 “year in music” maps below. The Echo Nest collects more detailed, sophisticated data about all of the recorded music in the world than anything else, affording us a unique vantage point for analyzing what transpired in music last year. The following end-of-year lists, available in both map and playlist form, were created not by asking a music expert what music she personally liked to hear last year, but by listening to all the music released this year and reading everything people everywhere said about it, which is part of how The Echo Nest operates. Rather than having one person or a roundtable of magazine editors weigh in on the year’s most impactful music, our system accounts for how the whole internet feels about it. 1,000 Hottest Songs of 2013 The following map, created by The Echo Nest data alchemist Glenn McDonald as part of Every Noise At Once, showcases the hottest 1,000 songs of 2013, grouped by artist, with larger, darker text indicating artists with hotter songs and/or multiple songs on the list. You can listen to each artist directly on the map (with 30-second samples for all and full tracks for Rdio subscribers): For a lean-back version of this experience, the following playlist plays the “hotttest” artists of 2013 (our proprietary attribute includes three t’s in the word “hotttness”): width="500" height="250" src="https://rd.io/i/QFyoLzF3dw/" frameborder="0">   You might have noticed that you haven’t heard of some of these, which is due in part to the worldwide nature of what The Echo Nest sees (although we can also dial in certain regions). “This is pulling from everything we know – worldwide, all genres,” explains McDonald. “American listening is a huge factor because we’re a huge part of the listening world, but we’re not limited to that here… I totally expected to see a lot of Latin artists, and we do. Part of the reason it’s interesting is that you don’t see a lot of other multiregion lists pulling from all over.” In other words, the above map reflects the hottest songs on planet earth last year, not just in one particular country. 500 Biggest Musical Discoveries of 2013 Another way we look at music is by identifying songs that took the world by surprise, in that they grew quite popular despite having been recorded by artists who weren’t yet well-known. The following list shows the artists whose stars started rising fast enough in 2013 to make The Echo Nest’s “Discovery” list, and grabs the 500 who had the “hotttest” tracks of the year. In other words, these are the relatively unknown artists that The Echo Nest predicted would make a splash in 2013, which actually did make a splash. “We had Lorde [on the Discovery list] before ‘Royals’ hit,” recalls McDonald. “We had that song 'Clarity’ [by Zedd] before it was a hit. We had Luke Bryan before he was big, and Icona Pop. We had Chvrches before their album came out. I think that Neighborhood song 'Sweater Weather’ we had before it was big. That Martin Garrix song "Animals” is huge in Europe and we had that.“ To hear the 500 biggest musical discoveries of 2013, you can check out this new page on Every Noise at Once: [...]