The Echo Nest Is Joining Spotify: What It Means To Me, and To Developers

I love writing music apps and playing with music data. How much? Every weekend I wake up at 6am and spend a long morning writing a new music app or playing with music data. That’s after a work week at The Echo Nest, where I spend much of my time writing music apps and playing with music data. The holiday break is even more fun, because I get to spend a whole week working on a longer project like Six Degrees of Black Sabbath or the 3D Music Maze.

That’s why I love working for The Echo Nest. We have built an amazing open API, which anyone can use, for free, to create music apps. With this API, you can create phenomenal music discovery apps like Boil the Frog that take you on a journey between any two artists, or Music Popcorn, which guides you through hundreds of music genres, from the arcane to the mainstream. It also powers apps that create new music, like Girl Talk in a Box, which lets you play with your favorite song in the browser, or The Swinger, which creates a Swing version of any song:

One of my roles at The Echo Nest is to be the developer evangelist for our API — to teach developers what our API can do, and get them excited about building things with it. This is the best job ever. I get to go to all parts of the world to attend events like Music Hack Day and show a new crop of developers what they can do with The Echo Nest API. In that regard, it’s also the easiest job ever, because when I show apps that developers have built with The Echo Nest API, like The Bonhamizer and The Infinite Jukebox, or show how to create a Pandora-like radio experience with just a few lines of Python, developers can’t help but get excited about our API.


Photo by Thomas Bonte

At The Echo Nest we’ve built what I think is the best, most complete music API — and now our API is about to get so much better.

spotify-logo-primary-vertical-light-background-rgbToday, we’ve announced that The Echo Nest has been acquired by Spotify, the award-winning digital music service. As part of Spotify, The Echo Nest will use our deep understanding of music to give Spotify listeners the best possible personalized music listening experience.

Spotify has long been committed to fostering a music app developer ecosystem. They have a number of APIs for creating apps on the web, on mobile devices, and within the Spotify application. They’ve been a sponsor and active participant in Music Hack Days for years now. Developers love Spotify, because it makes it easy to add music to an app without any licensing fuss. It has an incredibly huge music catalog that is available in countries around the world.

Spotify and The Echo Nest APIs already work well together. The Echo Nest already knows Spotify’s music catalog. All of our artist, song, and playlisting APIs can return Spotify IDs, making it easy to build a smart app that plays music from Spotify. Developers have been building Spotify / Echo Nest apps for years. If you go to a Music Hack Day, one of the most common phrases you’ll hear is, “This Spotify app uses The Echo Nest API”.

I am incredibly excited about becoming part of Spotify, especially because of what it means for The Echo Nest API. First, to be clear, The Echo Nest API isn’t going to go away. We are committed to continuing to support our open API. Second, although we haven’t sorted through all the details, you can imagine that there’s a whole lot of data that Spotify has that we can potentially use to enhance our API.  Perhaps the first visible change you’ll see in The Echo Nest API as a result of our becoming part of Spotify is that we will be able to keep our view of the Spotify ID space in our Project Rosetta Stone ID mapping layer incredibly fresh. No more lag between when an item appears in Spotify and when its ID appears in The Echo Nest.

The Echo Nest and the Spotify APIs are complementary. Spotify’s API provides everything a developer needs to play music and facilitate interaction with the listener, while The Echo Nest provides deep data on the music itself — what it sounds like, what people are saying about it, similar music its fans should listen to, and too much more to mention here. These two APIs together provide everything you need to create just about any music app you can think of.

I am a longtime fan of Spotify. I’ve been following them now for over seven years. I first blogged about Spotify way back in January of 2007 while they were still in stealth mode. I blogged about the Spotify haircuts, and their serious demeanor:

Those Crazy Spotify Guys in 2007

Those Crazy Spotify Guys in 2007

I blogged about the Spotify application when it was released to private beta (“Woah – Spotify is pretty cool”), and continued to blog about them every time they added another cool feature.

Last month, on a very cold and snowy day in Boston, I sat across a conference table from of bunch of really smart folks with Swedish accents. As they described their vision of a music platform, it became clear to me that they share the same obsession that we do with trying to find the best way to bring fans and music together.

Together, we can create the best music listening experience in history.

I’m totally excited to be working for Spotify now. Still, as with any new beginning, there’s an ending as well. We’ve worked hard, for many years, to build The Echo Nest — and as anyone who’s spent time here knows, we have a very special culture of people totally obsessed with building the best music platform. Of course this will continue, but as we become part of Spotify things will necessarily change, and the time when The Echo Nest was a scrappy music startup when no one in their right mind wanted to be a music startup will be just a sweet memory. To me, this is a bit like graduation day in high school — it is exciting to be moving on to bigger things, but also sad to say goodbye to that crazy time in life.

There is a big difference: When I graduated from high school and went off to college, I had to say goodbye to all my friends, but now as I go off to the college of Spotify, all my friends and classmates from high school are coming with me. How exciting is that!


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  1. #1 by ariaalagha on March 6, 2014 - 10:38 am

    Keep up the good work!

    I look forward to using my clients to show off your experiments on the side.



    Aria Alagha: Social Media Consultant Twitter | UK 07540 474331 This e-mail (and any attached files) is confidential and protected by copyright (and other intellectual property rights). If you are not the intended recipient please e-mail the sender and then delete the email and any attached files immediately. Any further use or dissemination is prohibited.

  2. #2 by blu28 on March 6, 2014 - 2:21 pm

    Do you anticipate any change to the GenreADay service, in particular the reliance on

    • #3 by Paul on March 6, 2014 - 2:27 pm


  3. #4 by Michael Good on March 6, 2014 - 3:27 pm

    Congratulations to Paul and everyone at Echo Nest. This sounds like great news indeed. I was there in Vienna when you took that picture – what a long way everyone has come since then.

  4. #5 by fran on March 6, 2014 - 3:52 pm

    Congratulations!! I’m a fascinated reader of your blog and a regular Spotify user and I’m sure it will be greater with your work.

  5. #6 by fran on March 6, 2014 - 4:07 pm

    ¡¡¡¡From Paco de Lucía to Sex Pistols in 7 steps!!!!!

  6. #7 by pweiderholm on March 6, 2014 - 5:11 pm

    Beautiful words Paul, well written! Really looking forward to working with you all. Please excuse the Swenglish ;)

  7. #8 by Eric on March 6, 2014 - 6:20 pm

    A joy to read! Welcome to the family :) /a product designer @ Spotify

    • #9 by Paul on March 8, 2014 - 7:37 pm

      thanks Eric!

  8. #10 by Will Buckley on March 6, 2014 - 11:07 pm

    Ah, artificial intelligence.  Now their’s a great way to destroy spontaneity and create predictability.

    With all the great “former” program directors and dj’s out there, one would think this would be a great way, to make great music and create jobs for music people and not programmers.

  9. #11 by Marc Lamere on March 7, 2014 - 10:15 am

    Paul, what a awesome new beginning for you! We all know that you’ve put your heart and soul into your work at Echo Nest and it shows, good luck as you and the Echo Nest team take the bold next step to the future! So, does this mean twice as many Music Hack Day events in your future?!

    • #12 by Paul on March 8, 2014 - 7:36 pm

      Thanks Marc! Yes, it will be fun in the new company. No idea yet what my future travel is like beyond knowing that I’ll be heading to Stockholm this year.

  10. #13 by Bruno Dias on March 9, 2014 - 8:19 pm

    Congratulations to Echo Nest and Spotify! Now, without a doubt, I see you guys as the major power in music analytics and recommendation business. Seriously, that’s a “””little””” overkill.

  11. #14 by Alex Cannon (@acannon828) on March 9, 2014 - 10:59 pm

    Spotify and The Echo Nest are both great services that I’ve followed for a while. That said, it’s great that this merger *won’t* affect a lot of what the Echo Nest does, but I’d like to hear more about what *will* be affected. What was the motivation behind the merger? What about what the Echo Nest does *will* change? For me “Spotify IDs will update more quickly” doesn’t really answer that question…

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