Archive for category startup

the sound of a million passwords changing

A bad day for my friends at Spotify. First the news of a security breach that compromised the personal information of their one million users – followed by the outage of the Spotify.com website as a million people all tried to change their passwords at once.  But despite all of this trouble, the Spotify player kept playing music.

badspot

It is interesting to see how Spotify is handling their first big crises. So far, they seem to be doing most things right –  they are being open about what the problem was and they have already fixed the problem that has caused the breach.   Looks like they may need to be a bigger web server though.

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setlist.fm – the setlist wiki

setlistsetlist.fm is a wiki-like service where people can record and share the setlists for concerts they’ve attended.  Interested in learning what Yes might play should you see them, you can look at the setlist for their recent concert in Georgia:

Firebird Suite
Siberian Khatru
I’ve Seen All Good People
Tempus Fugit
Onward
Astral Traveler
Close To The Edge
J’s Theme
Intersection Blues
And You And I
Long Distance Runaround
The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)
Aliens (Are Only Us From The Future)
Machine Messiah
Starship Trooper
Owner Of A Lonely Heart
Roundabout

setlist.fm doesn’t just show you the setlist, it also creates links to Youtube videos for each of the tracks, finds the lyrics from the LyricWiki. setlist  calculates nifty statistics about which songs a band has played most in their concerts.  Setlist.fm is a neat idea – and the site design and implementation is really slick.  It’s a pretty cool site.

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Day #2 at the startup

I just finished day #2 at my new job.  Sorry to be so cagey about where I was going, but they wanted to keep it quiet until they could  do a press release about it.   I see the press release is public now, so I’m free to talk about my new job.

As many of the commenters have guessed, I’ve joined, as  the director of the developer community,  The Echo Nest –   a company that is devoted to providing music intelligence for the next generation of online music application.   In this role, I will work with the rest of the  Echo Nest team to help grow an active, vibrant music application developer  community around The Echo Nest  developer API.

I’m really excited to be here at The Echo Nest.   The Echo Nest has already established a reputation as a company that provides a new breed  of hardcore music intelligence.  The Echo Nest goes far beyond the “wisdom of the crowds” model of music discovery (“People who listened to the Beatles also listened to the Rolling Stones”). Instead of just data mining user behavior, The Echo Nest crawls the web to learn everything it can about music by analyzing what the world is saying about music.  The Echo Nest also directly analyzes the audio content of music – extracting musical traits such as key, tempo, structure, timbre from the audio.

Home of The Echo Nest

Home of The Echo Nest

From this  analysis of the social context, the user behavior and the actual audio, the Echo Nest gets a deep understanding of the entire world music.   It knows which artists are getting the most buzz, which artists are getting stale,  how and why artists are related, what words are being used to describe the music.     This data goes far beyond the “if you like Britney, you might like Christina” level.  The Echo Nest understands enough about music to be able to answer queries such as “make me a playlist of  songs with a tempo of 90 beats per minute by an unknown emo artist that sounds something like Dashboard Confessional,  and has violins”.  The really neat thing is that the Echo Nest is exposing a lot of this functionality in their developer API.  This lets anyone who is building a music application to tap into this large resource of music intelligence.

One of my main duties is to be the voice of the developer in the Echo Nest.  I’ve written my fair share of music apps, so I have a good idea of some of the many pain points and difficulties that a music application developer has to face, but I’d like to hear more, so if you are developing a music application and you need a particular problem solved let me know – or better yet, post to The Echo Nest developer forums.

I’ll be writing a lot about The Echo Nest in upcoming posts – in particular about using the developer APIs, but I shall still continue to post about all of the interesting things going on the music space – so this blog won’t be too much different from Duke Listens!

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An old guy goes to a startup

The new office digs

The new office digs

I’m tired but very happy. Today was my first day at my  new gig at a music  2.0 startup. It was a great day … I arrived mid-morning  was handed a new laptop (mmmm, that new laptop smell), given a new, completely empty desk and got right down business.  As you’d expect in a startup,   everyone (except the suits) sits in the same room, the average employee age is under 30 and the staff is entirely male.  I’m surrounded by people who eat, drink and breathe music.

The big excitement for the day for the office was the new music setup. One of the guys had just connected a Sonos system to the office stereo which lets the entire office share a single playlist. Anyone  in the office can queue any track, by any artist for the whole office to hear.  The music for the day was a very eclectic mix – ranging from cool jazz, to power pop – some was a bit hard to work through (the Zappa and the Wedding March) – and there was a surprising amount of  80s pop (the last time I listened to Toto’s Rosanna was in the supermarket).

My first day at work was an interesting contrast to my first day at Sun Microsystems almost 9 years ago.  On my first day at Sun, there were about 30 other people who were starting on that same day, and we all spent the first few hours in the Human Resources meeting from hell learning about TPS reports and coversheets. It ultimately took a week to get my login, and email setup by the IT department. And no one played any music at all.

The only downer for the day was the commute – I’ve added an extra 40 minutes  to my daily drive  – that will take a bit of getting used to.

It is really exciting to be working at a company that I suspect know will be at the heart of the next wave of music on the web.  The team is top notch, driven and perhaps most important of all are extreme music fans. The company founders and CEO seem to have  a real vision for the future of music. This is the place where things can happen. I feel lucky to be part of the team.

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