Music + geeks = magic. As a self-proclaimed nerd and music fangrrl, it makes
me really excited to see these two trains on a collision course in
Boston. (Right? An unlikely suspect.) Within a few weeks Boston hosted two different
future of music events–a wild mix of artists and scientists. I got a
chance to talk a little music nerdery with Jim Lucchese, the CEO of The Echo Nest, a big believer in the fact that Boston has the just the right mix tech chops and soul.
The fact is, music and data–they’re not that separate from each other.
I’ve been recently cramming music theory in with some self-taught
guitar, so I see the light. The Echo Nest uses machine learning (think
IBM’s Watson) to turn everything that’s said, sung and played on the web
into a huge amount of data, or what the company calls its “Musical
Brain.” But the interesting part is that they choose to remain behind
the scenes and leave it up to the genius of the tech world to decide
what to do with that information. This approach makes a bunch of data,
well, decidedly human.
“I don’t see what we’re doing as a man versus machine battle at all,” said
Lucchese. “We’re capturing people’s interactions with music – and
making that understanding usable.” He calls The Echo Nest a “palate of
paints”–a combination of data on people’s cultural understanding of
music plus technical aspects like song tone, key, etc.–for developers
to create literally whatever they want. This piece highlights a few examples.
So why remain behind the scenes? Are they the roadies of the musical data revolution?
“We’re never going to say we’re excellent marketers,” said Lucchese. “We
capitalize on what we do really, really well–and put that into the
hands of companies like We Are Hunted to build engaging apps.”
I say it’s about time roadies got their due, too. This stuff is about to
be huge. And I love that Boston is at the center of it all. Hear that
Silicon Valley? Everyone loves an underdog story.