The Echo Nest Is Listening

I've written before in this space about Paul Lamere, a deep thinker about music and technology and the director of the application developer community for The Echo Nest, a "music intelligence company" that is pushing the boundaries of what technology can tell us about the music we listen to.  They recently got some love from Fast Company in a piece that highlights some things they've been up to recently, including the following snippet:

The Echo Nest crawls the web in search of music and writing about music; it also partners with major labels like Universal and aggregators like 7Digital. It then devours data about the music, on both the "acoustic side"--tempo, key, etc. (Echo Nest's system crunches that sort of data in about 10 seconds for a song)--and the "cultural side"--what reviewers are saying about the music for instance. It crawls the web, Google-style, ravenous for new musical information. If you tweet about the band you saw last night, "we have that in our databases within the hour," says Whitman.
Not only are they listening to everything we're saying about music, and listening to the music itself, but currently the Echo Nest has information about 30 million songs in its database.  30 million!  I'm not entirely sure what the difference is between the 30 million songs that you can query about using their API vs. the 1 million in the "Million Song Dataset" they just announced, but either way, this is really, really cool.  [Editor's note:  I think the API gives you access to song information only, while the Million Song Dataset actually gives you access to 30-second samples for each song, so developers and researchers can actually perform automated musical analysis on those samples.]

I'm looking forward to seeing Paul's SXSW panel this year (plug time:  I'll be there leading my own panel, about how the lessons of improv can help you live a better life).  If you're interested in music and technology, Echo Nest is definitely a company to watch.

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