Is that a million songs in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

Yesterday, Steve Jobs reminded us that it was less than 10 years ago when Apple announced the first iPod which could put a thousand songs in your pocket.  With the emergence of cloud-based music services like Spotify and Rhapsody, we can now have a virtually endless supply of music in our pocket.  The  ‘bottomless iPod’ will have as big an effect on how we listen to music as the original iPod had back in 2001.  But with millions of songs to chose from, we will need help finding music that we want to hear.  Shuffle play won’t work when we have a million songs to chose from.  We will need new tools that help us manage our listening experience.  I’m convinced that one of these tools will be intelligent automatic playlisting.

This weekend at the Music Hack Day London, The Echo Nest is releasing the first version of our new Playlisting API.  The Playlisting API  lets developers construct playlists based on a flexible set of artist/song selection and sorting rules.  The Echo Nest has deep data about millions of artists and songs.  We know how popular Lady Gaga is, we know the tempo of every one of her songs,  we know other artists that sound similar to her, we know where she’s from, we know what words people use to describe her music (‘dance pop’, ‘club’, ‘party music’, ‘female’, ‘diva’ ).  With the Playlisting API we can use this data to select music and arrange it in all sorts of flexible ways – from very simple Pandora radio style playlists of similar sounding songs to elaborate playlists drawing on a wide range of parameters.  Here are some examples of the types of playlists you can construct with the API:

  • Similar artist radio – generate a playlist of songs by similar artists
  • Jogging playlist – generate a playlist of 80s power pop with a tempo between 120 and 130 BPM, but never ever play Bon Jovi
  • London Music Hack Day Playlist -generate a playlist of electronic and techno music by unknown artists near London, order the tracks by tempo from slow to fast
  • Tomorrow’s top 40 – play  the hottest songs by  pop artists with low familiarity that are starting to get hottt
  • Heavy Metal Radio – A DMCA-Compliant radio stream of nothing but heavy metal

We have also provide a dynamic playlisting API that will allow for the creation of playlists that adapt based upon skipping and rating behavior of the listener.

I’m about to jump on a plane for the Music Hackday London where we will be demonstrating this new API and some cool apps that have already been built upon it.    I’m  hoping to see a few apps emerge from this Music Hack Day that use  the new API.  More info about the APIs and how you can use it to do all sorts of fun things will be forthcoming.  For the motivated dive into the APIs right now.

  1. #1 by sociosound on September 2, 2010 - 9:29 am

    Great post.. I was talking with my class a few days ago about this subject, and they all wrote down how Mp3 players in their pockets have changed their lives. The answers varied but the two most popular answers were 1. It made illegal downloading easier, and 2. It made people less social. The good news is that with things like Rhapsody, Spotify, or even Pandora and Grooveshark – the need for illegal downloading is dwindling.

    The API sounds interesting – can’t wait to check it out!

  2. #2 by Michael Plater II on September 2, 2010 - 10:21 am

    This is uber cool, for us non-technical music geeks out there is there any GUI available for this?

  3. #3 by tim on September 7, 2010 - 8:30 pm

    Looks fantastic. It’d be even better if the parameter ‘danceability’ were to be included and if you could sort by ‘artist similarity’, the way you did with the Playlist Pathfinder (a feature that seems to be offline right now).

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