Watching Vevo, the online music-video service, used to be all about one-off experiences. Viewers would head to Vevo or YouTube to watch music videos by artists such as Jay-Z or LMFAO, but rarely would they venture beyond what they searched for. Not anymore.
Today, the company announced a partnership with Echo Nest to offer fans personalized, social music recommendations based on their listening tastes. By taking advantage of Echo Nest’s powerful algorithm and 30-million-song database, viewers can now let Vevo scan their iTunes library or Facebook activity to get artist recommendations based on the songs they listen to most. The partnership not only enhances Vevo’s music discovery engine, but expands on Echo Nest’s strategy to be at the core of driving listening across music platforms such as Rdio, MOG, and Spotify.
“Vevo is using our playlist engine to turn any Vevo play into a Vevo station that’s personalized based on your music tastes,” says Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese. “We can analyze your iTunes library on an opt-in basis to understand your overall music personality, and from there generate a customized Vevo channel using any seed artist or track.”
Lucchese says the partnership is most exciting when considering Vevo’s place in the living room on services such as Apple TV. The opportunity to deliver an “intelligent, lean-back experience,” he says, “creates the opportunity for a video station that’s going to remain interesting.” Think MTV or VH1 before Jersey Shore and Mob Wives, when TRL and Pop Up Video dominated the airwaves. “We’re helping to eliminate the cul-de-sacs that exist today, where you heard about music video X, you watched it, and then you went on to do something else,” Lucchese says. “We can help drive more engagement.”
But the real secret sauce behind Echo Nest is the data powering its service–a data set that only grows more potent the more the Somerville, Massachusetts-based company partners with third parties. “Our goal is to do deals with everybody, and be the underlying data layer that’s powering all those different interactions between people and music,” says Lucchese, who points to big-name partnerships already struck with Clear Channel, Spotify, Nokia, EMI, MTV, and Twitter. “We want to be the nerve center for digital music.”
The reason? “The $15 billion in advertising spent around music every year,” Lucchese adds. The company charges its partners a recurring license fee for using Echo Nest, and it earns revenue based on the engagement it helps drive. But the true money generator could likely end up being advertising.
In the same way that Echo Nest can analyze a song–based on metrics such as pitch, tempo, time signature, energy, and “dance-ability”–the service can also analyze its users. “We can answer a whole range of questions about music content and even music consumers, where we can apply that data to build a taste profile of you as a user,” Lucchese says.
And the data, he continues, will only improve the more music services partner with Echo Nest–more than 350 applications and 13,000 developers are already taking advantage of Echo Nest’s platform. Compare that to Pandora’s Music Genome, which gains its data just from Pandora listeners itself.
“By virtue of the fact that we’re working with lots and lots of companies, we get visibility into tens of millions of music fans directly,” Lucchese says. “So we’re just getting smarter and smarter.”
[Image: Flickr user Jazzuality]