Spotify purchases music discovery engine The Echo Nest

Steven Loeb · March 6, 2014 · Short URL:

The Echo Nest API will remain open to developers

The music streaming space is all about getting the right music to the right people at the right time. That is where a company like The Echo Nest comes in. It is a music intelligence company used by many of its competitiors in order to help them understand what their listeners want to hear.

Now The Echo Nest has been acquired by Spotify, it was announced on Thursday, a move which could cause a major shakeup in the space. No financial terms of the deal have been disclosed.

The Echo Nest says that it provides developers with "the deepest understanding of music content and music fans." That means helping recommend the right music for streaming service.

The acquisition will help support Spotify build up its user experience and music discovery engine, by allowing the company to leverage The Echo Nest’ understanding and tools for curation.

The addition of The Echo Nest to Spotify will also strengthen Spotify’s ability to help brands and partners build music experiences for their audiences.

The two companies are a good fit,  the Echo Nest team wrote in a blog post about the deal, because they both care about getting the music out to the world.

"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," the Echo Nest team said.

"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."

Founded in 2005, The Echo Nest raised over $25 million, including a $7 million round, led by Matrix Partners with participation from previous investor, Commonwealth Capital, in October 2010.

The Echo Nest will continue to operate out of its headquarters in Somerville, Massaschusetts. It's API will also remain free and open, as "the developer community is crucial to the success of both Spotify and The Echo Nest and will remain a priority for the combined companies."

This is where it gets interesting: The Echo Nest is used by many of Spotify's competitors, including Rdio, eMusic, Vevo and MTV. 

I asked both Spotify and the Echo Nest if being open to developers meant also being open to Spotify competitors, both gave me slighly cagey answers as to what the future holds

"In the few cases where The Echo Nest does work with direct competitors we will work with them to understand these relationships and determine the next business steps," a Spotify spokesperson said.

"The bottom line is that The Echo Nest will meet all contractual obligations to all customers," an Echo Nest spokesperson added.

As for whether or not those competitiors would still even want to work with Echo Nest now that it is owned by Spotify, the Spotify representative would only say, "I think we need to work with the Echo Nest team to determine the next steps on all of their relationships."

"I can't speak for our customers and partners, but can say that these relationships are of utmost importance and to that end, we have agreed with Spotify to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary whereby our existing commercial customer agreements and relationships are still in force," The Echo Nest spokesperson said.

"We are in close contact with all of our customers to ensure clarity and continuity around how we’re moving forward."

I guess we will have to stay tuned to see how this shakes out.

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The Echo Nest


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The Echo Nest is a music intelligence company founded by Tristan Jehan and Brian Whitman, who met at the MIT Media Lab while they were both getting their PhDs in music understanding and synthesis research. The company has since grown to a small but insane team of developers, designers, musicians and business people all housed in a cozy office in Davis Square, Somerville, MA, USA. We grow an intelligence platform that automatically reads about and listens to the entire world of music for developers to build search, personalization and interactive music applications.

The Echo Nest team is made up of music intelligence scientists and experienced digital entertainment entrepreneurs. Our advisors include the leadership of Bose, DirecTV and XM Satellite Radio. The Echo Nest is a four-time National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant winner. The company is also funded by Commonwealth Capital Ventures, Argos Management and a great group of angel investors that include three co-founders of the MIT Media Lab.

About Our Platform

Our applications are powered by a musical brain built at the Echo Nest along with years of research at UC Berkeley, Columbia and MIT. The musical brain automatically:

  1. Reads about music, constantly analyzing millions of blog posts, reviews, playlists and discussion forums to understand how the online world describes every artist, album and song.
  2. Listens to music, with technology actually listens to audio files, extracting musical attributes, such as tempo, instrumentation, key, time signature, energy, harmonic and timbral structures, to understand every song in similar ways a musician would describe it (e.g. "heavy beat, swing groove, fast tempo, 4/4 time, key of B flat, mezzo piano").
  3. Learns about music trends, analyzing the entire world of online music behavior — who's talking about which artists this week, what songs are being streamed and downloaded, etc. — to understand the latest trends, buzz and fan opinion.


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