In the ever-more-crowded streaming music world, Spotify's acquisition of music data supplier The Echo Nest on March 6 -- in a deal thought to be worth as much as $100 million -- could have real ramifications. It gives the Swedish company a way to keep a valuable tool out of the hands of competitors like Rdio and iHeartRadio, both of which rely on The Echo Nest to help power their programming. And doing so could help boost Spotify's valuation, which has already vaulted to estimates as high as $7 billion in anticipation of a possible initial public offering.

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