Mystery Solved: The Echo Nest Powers Spotify RadioDecember 16, 2011
by Duncan Geere
Since Spotify dramatically revamped its radio offering on 9 December, there have been a few questions over how it works. It turns out that music intelligence company The Echo Nest is behind it.
Spotify’s radio functionality was so bad for so long that it came as a bit of a shock when, just a week after announcing its burgeoning app platform, the streaming music service rolled out functionality that several apps had only just started providing. The biggest surprise was that it was both unbranded and very good.
Generally, machine recommendations of music aren’t too good. It’s tough for a computer to understand why one band might be related to another, but a couple of companies have been doing it long enough that they’re generally considered able to deliver machine recommendations pretty well. Last.fm is one of them, but it was part of the launch of Spotify apps, so it would have been weird if it had also started to power Spotify radio at the same time.
The Echo Nest is the other, and while developers have hacked together Echo Nest recommendations for Spotify in the past, the new radio functionality seemed too good for Spotify to have quietly built internally without much in the way of user testing. Well, the mystery has been solved. The Echo Nest has admitted that yes, it is powering Spotify radio.
An Echo Nest spokesperson told Wired.co.uk: “At this time, you’ll start seeing our attribution within the player when the custom station is using a seed artist that we are powering. The attribution is only there for a few seconds and over time, it will be for all artists on Spotify. As you can imagine, this is a lot of data to deliver and ingest into a live system and both sides are being careful to do it correctly in order to insure an optimal product for the Spotify customer.”
Echo Nest’s CEO, Jim Lucchese added: “We’ve invested heavily to ensure our intelligent playlist engine is the most sophisticated in the world. Combining that with Spotify Radio’s incredibly intuitive and inherently social service will give Spotify users an amazing music discovery experience.”