The Echo Nest Hatches Echoprint, A Free Open Source Music Fingerprinting Service

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The Echo Nest, a music intelligence startup whose technology that powers many music apps from media companies or independent developers, this morning announced the release of an open-source music identification service dubbed Echoprint.

The Echo Nest teamed up with 7digital, a London-based digital media delivery company, and MusizBrainz, to launch with a catalog of 13 million songs, an amount it expects to grow fast.

Echoprint will basically allow third-party developers to help music fans identify the music that’s playing around them, free of charge, from within their own applications and services.

This should perk the ears of everyone over at music discovery company Shazam, which provides a similar but closed service and just raised a $32 million round.

As The Echo Nest puts it, music identification now “belongs to the community at large”:

Music identification apps regularly rank among the most popular paid offerings in the iTunes, Android, and other app stores. Every music fan wants to identify the songs they hear, read up on the artists who made them, and tag them for future listening or purchase. They also want everything their personal music collections to be properly labeled.

Thanks to the open-source Echoprint, music fans will get both of these things within a much wider variety of apps.

The Echo Nest says the music fingerprinting technology isn’t new and has been in use by its partners for 18 months already, but Echoprint will be completely open source.

The company posits that not only music identification or related apps will benefit from Echoprint, but also social networking and location-based service providers.

Coincidentally, I’m visiting The Echo Nest’s offices near Boston next week, so I hope to learn more about the technology and how the company is doing in general then.