The Echo Nest's music intelligence allows developers to tap into the characteristics of music - genre, year, tempo - and create applications that allow music fans to interact with music in new - and hopefully - exciting ways.
More importantly, developers have access to a huge catalog of tracks without needing to get permission from every single rights holder. Such licensing requirements would be an impossible task even with a small catalog. Back in February, the Echo Nest announced a deal with Universal Music Group's Island Def Jam label. That deal opened up Island Def Jam's entire catalog and roster available to app developers.
This latest partnership is especially good news for Rdio subscribers because subscribers get to hear full tracks. However, non-subscribers will get only 30-second clips. "The playback functionality is the same as you find currently in our embeddable player which is in our sharing capabilities on Rdio," explains Elissa Barret, the Echo Nest's Director of Communications and Operations.
The first example out of the gate is Music Maze, a web-based service that acts like a musical family tree. After the user types in an artist name, Music Maze lists that artists and related artists, and artists related to those artists, and so on. Rdio subscribers can sit back and listen to a stream of full tracks as Music Maze plays through the related artists.
Integration between Rdio's comprehensive licensed music catalog and The Echo Nest's deep musical intelligence will allow app developers to build sophisticated mobile and web applications with access to licensed music and the ability to categorize, filter, analyze, understand, and manipulate that music in the countless ways enabled by The Echo Nest's API. The only limit to what a music app developer can build from this tool set, so the theory goes, is their imagination.
The partnership is designed to inspire music app innovation by exposing Rdio's API to The Echo Nest's growing army of independent developers, which will ultimately give fans more exciting and diverse online music experiences. Application developers hold the keys to the music industry's ongoing reinvention, but without such partnerships, they can't access the licensed content or technological resources they need. This partnership delivers both elements, with behind-the-scenes integration at the API level so that it all "just works" without requiring developers to reinvent wheels.