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Stuart Dredge: The Echo Nest brings music identification to the development masses.

Valentina Park
  • 24 june 2011



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This article titled “Make your own Shazam? There’s an API for that called Echoprint” was written by Stuart Dredge, for guardian.co.uk on Thursday 23rd June 2011 13.05 UTC

Yesterday, mobile discovery firm Shazam raised million and talked about its ongoing move beyond basic music identification. A good thing, too, for today US company The Echo Nest is launching a platform that lets any developer create their own baby Shazam for a fraction of the cost.

It’s called Echoprint, and is being touted as the world’s “first fully open-source music fingerprint service”, drawing on UK firm 7digital’s catalogue of 13 million songs, and with plans to expand its database over time as more apps are launched using it.

“Music fingerprinting should belong to the Internet,” says Echo Nest co-founder and chief technology officer Brian Whitman, in a statement.

“It should be a service that every developer can rely on without worrying about licensing fees or complicated database implementations… Any music experience, from a streaming cloud service to a social music game can now immediately include music recognition. We’re giving people the client and server along with the data, and we can’t wait to see what they build with this.”

The interesting thing about Echoprint is most certainly not the prospect of dozens of independently developed rivals to established music identification apps like Shazam and SoundHound, however.

Instead, the opportunity here is for this music fingerprinting technology to make its way into a wide range of apps, sitting alongside other features. The Echo Nest cites social networks and location based services as two categories that may benefit, for example.

A streaming music service like Spotify might use Echoprint to bring song identification into its own app, rather than relying on its current partnership with Shazam. You can even imagine some developers creating games around the technology.

The key point is that developers will now be able to play with audio fingerprinting technology resolving to a database of 13 million tracks, complete with 7digital’s store for track purchases, and streaming service APIs from the likes of Spotify and Rdio.

That’s why Echoprint’s significance is much less about its likely impact on Shazam’s business model – which in any case has gone well beyond basic track recognition – and much more about fuelling a new generation of music apps where track identification is just a piece of the puzzle.

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