A talk with The Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese about the Spotify acquisition

the echo nest canvasThe acquisition of The Echo Nest  by Spotify represents an important potential alteration in the anatomy of streaming music services. The Echo Nest “powers” over 400 streaming platforms. Its music intellience is, to varying extents, the brain of clients like Rdio, iHeartRadio, and Spotify. That musical brain is made available through an Application Programming Interface, a licensed technology layer which can be developed, hacked, and customized by clients for use in their services.

Because The Echo Nest has such a broad footprint in the industry, we wondered what the acquisition means for the many music services which rely on The Echo Nest, and their millions of users users, who, even if they don’t know it, are really listening to The Echo Nest.

We spoke to CEO Jim Lucchese about the future.

 RAIN: How does this merger affect your existing clients?

jim luccheseJL: I want to be absolutely clear on an important point. We are absolutely honoring all our obligations with our customers.

There are two strategic drivers of this deal. One is combining all our data and technology, to generate better user experience in Spotify. Second is around the ecosystem and platform opportunities. If you look at our ecosystem of customers and API, and you look at Spotify’s API strategy, there’s a ton of value that we can offer there. When you look at most of the customers who use our API, we’re going to offer them a much richer experience. That’s part of what drove the strategic interest from Spotify.

To be clear, the API and our API strategy, will definitely continue.

RAIN: So, your API will remain open.

JL: Yes. Obviously, we’ll look at ways to combine what we’re doing to offer something more compelling. We’ll be enhancing it and changing how we do things over the next year or so. We haven’t put together a roadmap yet. But that’s the high-level view.

RAIN: The press release says, “The deal will allow Spotify to leverage The Echo Nest’s in-depth music discovery for millions of users.” Doesn’t Spotify already leverage your music intelligence?

JL: Part of what started this whole conversation, when Daniel [Ek, Spotify founder] and I talked about what we’d like to do together … you can’t just do it as independent companies. When you really want to understand an end user, and optimize the data-driven discovery experience, things like UI [user interface], UX [user experience], all the stuff that we can’t see from where we sit, and they can’t see from where they sit — we can combine those things. We can control the whole stack with more visibility. The ability to learn, tweak, and improve — it’s all faster and more agile. That’s where we’ll see a huge leap forward.

Similarly, Spotify has an absolutely incredible wealth of data around user interaction. — probably more than anyone, when it comes to highly engaged streaming listeners around the world. We’re really excited to get our hands on that data to figure out how to make the service better.

RAIN: Will Spotify get first or exclusive access to new The Echo Nest technology going forward?

JL: As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Spotify, our roadmap going forward is going to be focused on how we improve that user experience. As far as how that informs our overall licensing model and platform is too early to say.

Brad Hill