Island Def Jam Partners With The Echo Nest To Create Opportunities For DevelopersFebruary 24, 2011
by Brenna Ehrlich
In what the companies are calling the first-ever alliance between a major label and the independent app developer community, Island Def Jam and The Echo Nest are partnering to make the label’s catalog available to developers who employ The Echo Nest’s API.
This agreement will yield benefits for both the label and developers. Developers, for their part, will have access to Island Def Jam‘s entire catalog and roster when creating an app using The Echo Nest’s API. Island Def Jam (IDJ) is a division of Universal Music Group.
When a developer signs up to use the Echo Nest API, he or she also will be able to access music from the IDJ catalog without having to ask the label for permission. All the developer has to do is agree to the terms of service to be able to create any app — sans licensing costs.
As part of this agreement, the label is rendered the publisher of the app, giving it control over distribution and making it privy to a portion of the revenue (the rest goes to the dev and The Echo Nest). In turn, IDJ will market the app and pay music publishers when need be.
In effect, this union removes the barrier to entry that many developers hit when they attempt to obtain licenses to music (it’s difficult and expensive). “We’re very excited to streamline the process and inspire creativity,” says Jon Vanhala, senior vice president of digital at IDJ.
Jim Lucchese, CEO of The Echo Nest, says he’s hopeful this partnership will change how music apps are made — with developers in a work-for-hire role to create apps for artists. He equates such developers to session musicians, paralleling devs with access to IDJ’s catalog and The Echo Nest API to bands — i.e. true artists, rather than hired hands.
“We’re setting up the framework for improvisation. … We trust the developers to come up with better stuff than we could mandate,” said Vanhala, adding that promotional tools like the traditional band website are no longer intriguing to consumers. “You want to keep people dancing.”
“The music app is the new music format,” Lucchese said. “Music formats drive how we experience music and the role it plays in our lives. In the same way that the music video provided a promotional wrapper around songs and artists while also functioning as a new creative work, music apps can attract new fans and raise an artist’s visibility while standing alone as a creative product.”
There is no set date for when this partnership will go live, and Vanhala and Lucchese acknowledge it will not be a clear-cut process when it comes to securing the appropriate rights for each and every band. We’re interested to see how this announcement plays out and the effect it will have on the industry.
Still, if the bevy of intriguing apps (many of which employed The Echo Nest API) that emerged from Music Hack Day this year are any indication, we could be in for some download-worthy apps in the near future.