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The Echo Nest Powers Up With $7 Million Series B Round, Out To Connect Independent Music App Developers with Commercial Partners

October 05, 2010
Xconomy
by Erin Kutz

The Echo Nest, a Somerville, MA-based music data service powering interactive music applications, announced today that it has closed a $7 million Series B investment, led by new investor Matrix Partners and joined by existing backer Commonwealth Capital Ventures.

The startup, founded by two MIT Media Lab PhDs, did not disclose the full amount of its Series A financing, but CEO Jim Lucchese says the second round total is “significantly larger.” With this newest swath of cash, the company is making a push to help the more than 5,000 independent developers building atop its data get their products to market faster. To date, more than 80 apps have been built on the company’s platform.

“We’re connecting independent developers—those who otherwise can’t build commercial music apps—with the licensed commercial world,” he says.

It’s a newer push for The Echo Nest, but, basically, a developer could build apps for things like more intelligent music searches, playlists, and recommendations, but may not know how to navigate the complexities of music licenses. So, The Echo Nest is looking to help connect that developer with a traditionally more established party in the music business, says Lucchese.

One example is a deal announced last month with 7digital, a London-based digital media company, that enables The Echo Nest’s developer community to build with 7digital’s MP3 library and 10 million globally licensed songs, Lucchese says.

Unlike personalized radio station provider Pandora, which is powered by a team of musicians who listen to and manually categorize each song in its trove, The Echo Nest has built its library of data on more than 15 million songs with machine listening and natural language processing technology. It analyzes both the content and culture of music, by categorizing the sound of each song, and aggregating all that is being said on the Internet about music, Lucchese says.

“I would absolutely say it’s a technology bet,” says Matrix general partner and Echo Nest board member Antonio Rodriguez says of the firm’s investment. Echo Nest also has a strong application programming interface (API) that sits atop its data, and a strong service selling its data, he says. The company has the opportunity to help power smart music applications on social networking platforms, mobile platforms, and alternative devices like the Sonos Internet Radio, he adds.

The Echo Nest raised $1.3 million in follow-on funding earlier this year, with money from investors Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the MIT Media Lab, Donald McLagan, a digital media and data veteran, and James Pallotta, a board member of the Boston Celtics, Lucchese says.

The Echo Nest Powers Up With $7 Million Series B Round, Out To Connect Independent Music App Developers with Commercial Partners

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