Rdio, after announcing that it would "transition away" from the newly (at the time) Spotify-owned Echo Nest for its algorithmic recommendations, has announced its acquisition of the consumer-facing TastemakerX, a recommendation platform founded in 2011. Rdio will be absorbing the entire TastemakerX team, including its CEO and co-founder Marc Ruxin and co-founder Sandro Pugliese.
Ruxin will be "overseeing corporate business functions and US operations, which includes corporate marketing and sales, business development, programming and evangelism," a spokesperson told Billboard. Pugliese's role is still being reviewed.
In an email to users of the service, TastemakerX wrote: "We are only at the beginning of what will become the next real paradigm for listening to and collecting music. Eventually people will stop buying digital downloads. Why would they when they can access all their favorite music, at the same quality, on any device for a set subscription price that is less than the cost of one downloaded MP3 album? " The email made no mention of the service's fate.
In a release, Rdio is notably vague in its description of TastemakerX's capabilities, saying only that the company has been "building core products on mobile and web... enabling listeners to discover new music, build and listen to virtual collections, and view artists based on social discovery." No mention of the acoustical analysis or granular parsing that the Echo Nest is known for. The statement also makes no mention of Rdio's plans for the company.
"We have always viewed Rdio as the most strategically aligned music platform to what we have been working on in terms of social and contextual music discovery," said Ruxin in a statement.
TastemakerX has secured two funding rounds since it was launched, raising $3.1 million in total, according to CrunchBase.
Rdio and TastemakerX shared a stage earlier this year at the SXSW Music conference, agreeing on the fundamentals of music recommendations for customers. “People turn people on to music,” said Mark Ruxin at the time, though presumably, given of the nature of his company and its clients at the time, a fair bit of technological involvement would be implied. Rdio's VP of product, Chris Becherer, responded during the panel that curation can't be "man or machine. It’s a blend.”
Rdio, which doesn't release subscriber numbers, has struck an offensive position since CEO Anthony Bay took over in late 2013. The company acquired Dinghana, giving it entry into the fast-growing streaming market in India. It also struck a deal with Cumulus, the broadcaster, for cross-promotions and non-music offerings. It also struck a deal similar in shape in Brazil, with Grupo Bandeirantes. It has also expanded into Europe and Asia, and boasts a presence in Canada, where neither Beats nor Spotify have launched.
Rdio also bundled its announcement with news of two hires; Jim Rondinell, the new senior vice president of content licensing and catalog acquisition, and Mat Bates, named head of radio and programming.