Most music-lovers remember the names of the songs and albums they love. Some know a little bit about the musician’s background (and a lot about their tabloid exploits). Others are able to recite a long, excruciatingly detailed oral history, whenever they think they recognize a song half-heard from a passerby’s headphones.
The last group is rabid in its devotion and capable of producing many blog posts, tweets, and — if they remember — Myspace updates about someone they’ve probably never met. The Echo Nest, a Boston-based music data company, is today announcing that it has partnered with Yahoo Music to put all of those fanatical missives to use.
The Echo Nest’s goal is to use data to better understand music and music culture. The former can be gleaned from the music itself — what’s the tempo? is this an acoustic or full performance? — but the latter can only be collected by scraping all of those previously-mentioned missives from the Web.
“We’re indexing over 10 million documents every day,” says The Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese. “We’re parsing the text to understand how the world is describing all of that music, and who’s doing the describing.”
The Echo Nest has partnered with Yahoo Music to use the resulting data to build dynamically-generated artist biographies. (Think the snippets you’ll find on Wikipedia or in many artist pages on music services like Spotify, Rdio, or MOG.) Instead of relying on an editorial staff to create a short biography that can quickly become outdated, The Echo Nest’s goal is to enable an ever-changing bio created by an artist’s fans.
The partnership with Yahoo Music might allow The Echo Nest, which also offers a music discovery service used by companies like Rdio, Spotify, and iHeartRadio, among others, to show that it understands music culture as well as it understands music itself.
“The idea is that if you’re able to understand all that music culture and the cultural signal and combine that with understanding musical content we can get closer to how you or I understand music,” Lucchese says.
He refers to the dual aspects of The Echo Nest’s service as areas of the brain: One side seeks to understand the beats that make our hearts race, the other strives to learn more about the person banging the drum. Companies have been utilizing the first side for a while. Now, through the partnership with Yahoo Music, The Echo Nest might finally be able to demonstrate everything else it’s learned (and learning).
Fanatics: Type your hearts out.
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman for PandoDaily]