Eventually, the most successful music companies may not be the ones that create, play, or sell music. Rather, they may be the ones to collect the most music data. In this race, Somerville, Massachusetts-based the Echo Nest is ahead. It's an ever-growing, easily searchable database (called the Musical Brain) of every possible data point for more than 30 million songs—and it's not for you, or any consumer. "We put it all in the hands of the people who create the new ways that we discover and interact with music," says CEO Jim Lucchese. Right now, that means 7,000-plus app developers, plus some heavy names like MTV. These folks create platforms to sell music, and the Echo Nest takes a cut. Below, a sampling of the services and how versatile music data can be.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.