Jim Lucchese, 39, is leading the growth of "big data" in the music business. But the CEO of the Echo Nest, a music intelligence company based in Boston, says hiring the right people has been the most challenging aspect of the last 12 months.
"Since our first hire," he says, "we've been pretty obsessive about only hiring hardcore music freaks who are also excellent music information retrieval engineers. It's been tough to maintain as growth has accelerated." Still, the policy has paid off. In the last 12 months, the Echo Nest has grown to the tune of 26 hires, a seven-fold increase in sales, $17 million of fresh venture capital and more than 20 new clients, including Clear Channel Radio, EMI, Nokia, Rdio, Spotify and Twitter.
Now the company is venturing into "taste profiles," or what Lucchese calls "in-depth understanding of music fans" to help build better music applications. "We're betting that understanding of people's musical identity will become the defining data opportunity in music over the next 18 months, and I think we've made a lot of progress on that front."