A look at the experimental side of Spotify

I happened to meet someone this past weekend who works for the former Echo Nest (now part of Spotify) here in the Boston area. Talking to him over the evening reminded me of a tech meet-up I had attended in August of last year where one of his co-workers presented some amazing tools and I thought I’d share the overview I wrote at that time for my office…

item155305I attended a very interesting seminar last night over in Kendall Square about the intersection of music and technology. A lot of it was focused on the legalities of music in the modern age (complexities of licensing, how to run a business making music, that sort of thing) but the first presenter was Paul Lamere, an engineer from the Echo Nest and he showed off a bunch of GREAT hacks using their data and APIs.

If you aren’t familiar w/ the Echo Nest, they’re a Davis Sq.-based company that has mastered the art of quantifying music – their back-end knowledge is what powers many of the well-know music services we all use every day…

Some of the coolest hacks that Mr. Lamere showed off included:

  • Boil the Frog
    This hack calculates how to musically jump from one artist to another, kind of a “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” for music. Miley Cyrus -> Miles Davis is pretty amusing, for example.
  • Music Popcorn
    This cloud-like app let’s you choose a genre of music. As a song plays, the cloud automatically reorganizes itself to group similar sub genres to the one you’re playing, while also pushing away unrelated genres.
  • The Bonhamizer (my personal favorite)
    Pick from a handful of Zep songs, then pick from the (limited) song list and hear that song played with Jason Bonham’s massive drum sound inserted on the fly. This almost makes Ke$ha sound good.
  • The Autocanonizer
    To be entirely honest, I didn’t quite get this one but it looks cool.
  • Attention Deficit Radio
    This one is pretty incredible – inspired by observing that his own teenage daughter never seems to listen to more than the first 30 seconds of a song before moving on, he pulled this together. Start with a song and, as it plays, it’ll analyze the song and deermine a similar song to follow up with, seamlessly fading out the original while fading in the next. A great example of their incredible technology. BTW, this one worked in Safari but not Chrome for me…
  • Infinite Jukebox
    (this one wins the UI prize) This one analyzes the song you specify and, on the fly, figures out how to loop it using itself as a source so that the song never ends. AMAZING. You haven’t lived ’til you punch in Van Halen’s Eruption!

Update
After posting this, I stumbled on to a page that collects all of Echo Nest’s work together, including the experiments mentioned above – find it at http://static.echonest.com/labs/!

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