What do images have to do with sound? A lot, it seems.
The Echo Nest, a music technology company based in Somerville, Mass., will be integrating more than 27,000 photos from Getty Images into its database of artist information. Subscribers of Echo Nest's product, called Dynamic Music Data, will be able to use the images for a flat monthly licensing fee that will be split between the two companies. Terms of the revenue sharing agreement were not disclosed.
Companies susbcribing to Dynamic Music Data include Yahoo!, MTV, KCRW and the BBC, among others. Yahoo! in August tapped the Echo Nest to serve up artist bios, photos, news and blog posts for its newly designed music pages.
"Fans appreciate seeing images of the artists they love as they listen to, read about, and share music," said Shane Tobin, Director of Strategic Partnerships at The Echo Nest. "However, the difficulty of licensing high-quality artist photographs has forced music sites and apps to rely primarily on album art as a graphical representation of artists."
Dynamic Music Data is one of several products sold by the Echo Nest, which also provides audio fingerprinting, audience analytics and an automatic playlisting and recommendation service. Rdio and iHeartRadio, for example, use the Echo Nest's playlisting service to create personalized radio stations.
Getty Images owns the rights to more than 80 million still images and 50,000 hours of film footage. In 2007, the Seattle-based comany bought the Michael Ochs Archives, which contained more than 75,000 photos of musicians and celebrities. Among them were the works of James Kriegsmann, the house photographer for the Cotton Club in the 1940s, who shot photos of Frank Sinatra and Simon & Garfunkel, and Don Paulsen, who captured images of Motown stars in the 1960s while they were backstage access at the Apollo Theatre. The photo of Jimi Hendrix, pictured above, was taken at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and is part of the Michael Ochs collection.
"What we did previously was point to search and Web feeds, aggregating the Creative Commons images on the Web," Tobin said. "Having access to the Getty's archives raises the bar for quality."