When we think of online radio powered by a listener's musical taste, we typically think of Pandora. However, when it comes to fueling similar recommendation engines for streaming sites like Spotify, MOG and 15,000 other music apps, that data is supplied by the Echo Nest.
Last week, the Somerville, Massachusetts-based start-up raised $17.3 million and now plans to follow Pandora and expand overseas. The money will also be spent improving "Fanalytics," a feature that will connect matching users who share similar musical tastes and listening patterns.
The service might prove useful for finding a buddy for rock shows or getting together with fellow super-fans and chartering a bus to follow your favorite band on tour. Furthermore, "Fanalytics" will also serve as an "affinity predictor" using music data and "psychographic attributes" to predict preference for other stuff beyond songs. Recently, Echo Nest data was used to find a predictive correlation between music listening patterns and political affiliation. Republicans listened to Pink Floyd, Kenny Chesney and Kelly Clarkson, while Democrats preferred Bob Marley, Snoop Dogg and Rihanna. Overall, Democrats had a broader taste in music.
Though investing in digital music might not sound like the safest thing to do, the Echo Nest's raison d'etre manages to skirt dealing with licensing headaches that make it tough for music streaming sites to turn a profit. The Nest gets to focus solely on "big data processing, machine learning and cutting edge information retrieval," Echo Nest investment partner and board member Anthony Rodriguez said in a press statement.
Investors are looking forward to "understanding each online consumer's musical identity, [enabling] a new world of deeply personalized, social and profitable applications," added Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese.
The Echo Nest will continue to work with Clear Channel, the BBC, MTV, Warner Music Group and Nokia, among others, while also looking to provide data to other media content sites and discovery search engines that might benefit from "exploiting" identity profiles based on musical taste.
Pandora continues to be a heavyweight in the streaming radio category, getting six times the listeners of Clear Channel's iHeartRadio (powered by the Echo Nest).
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