When Spotify acquired the industry’s leading music intelligence company, The Echo Nest, in March, it sent a major signal to the rest of business stating the importance of data and curating the context of your content. But the first publicly announced project between the companies is not any new big data algorithm or playlist tool for the top streaming service’s users, it’s a new blog.
Spotify’s new Insights data blog, which launched Wednesday, will feature data-driven articles about music and how people experience it. The company hopes it will become a destination and resource for music fans, journalists and data-heads alike. According to Eliot Van Buskirk, The Echo Nest’s editor and chief and Spotify’s new in-house data storyteller, the site plans to post a couple articles a week, tells Billboard, “looking at the way music has changed over time, whether you can figure out movie taste from music,” or similar topics, ranging “from weird to really informative about big trends.”
Working with the company’s analysts on these musically driven scientific experiments, Van Buskirk said his intent is to “keep telling these stories, releasing these fascinating maps, info-graphics, articles, more lengthy than a regular company blog. It’s a way to get these stories to anyone who’s curious — music fans, fans of data trivia, and journalists. … Most companies don’t open their inner data stores to the outside… We want to turn it into these clear-cut nuggets of, hopefully, entertainment that’s definitely scientifically driven.”
The website’s first post is a look at styles of music originating in European cities and how they spread across the globe titled “How Music Migrated from Berlin, London, and Paris.” For it, product owner of taste profiles at Spotify, Ajay Kalia, looked at genres originating in those cities such as bass music and pub rock from London, minimal techno from Berlin and French Pop from Paris. Kalia found that musical styles based in Berlin have tended to stay close to that city, spreading mostly throughout Germany and Europe, as well as points southeast across the Atlantic to the Americas. Meanwhile, genres from London have spread to the greatest amount of destination cities but those from Paris have spread to the most geographically dispersed cities — giving each city a claim to having the greater musical influence.
Another upcoming piece examines road trip music in a number of ways, said Van Buskirk. For example, comparing the music people include in road trip playlists with how popular they are in general, as well as which artists are popular on what trips.
“A lot of the time we don’t know what we’re going to find until we start looking,” he said. “The idea is to be rigorous with the data and expose our methodology, being as scientific as we can and telling as many reality-based stories as we can.”