Senzari, the Pandora competitor backed by $1 million in funding from 500 Startups and others, has just debuted a brand-new recommendation engine called AMP3, which steps up the competition quite a bit between it and other streaming radio providers. The new engine (which we’ll just call “AMP” for short) isn’t like the basic “artist radio” option found in Pandora, or the radio features in other streaming music apps, either. Those, at best, may just include a “more/less like this” slider option for customization purposes. Instead, with AMP, listeners can customize their music by a number of factors, including popularity, tempo, similarity, and discovery.
And, says Senzari, this is just the beginning.
“We looked at solutions for recommendation of music and found that pretty much all were similar to what has been done over the last half a decade or more in music,” says Senzari COO Demian Bellumio. “It started with Pandora with the Music Genome, and the solutions out there are just looking at the music itself…we felt that it was an opportunity to innovate in that space,” he says. Bellumio notes that several technology developments have made this type of deeper customization possible, like the advance of tools that help with the crunching of big data, for example, as well as Facebook’s Open Graph, which offers another source to analyze the meaning and the relationships between data points.
“What we decided to do is build a platform that could connect all those dots and go beyond just creating new set of experiences based on the music, but really understand how the music qualities, plus the social layer, plus anything else that could give meaning to the music, like context, could all come together,” he says.
The initial version of the recommendation engine, nine months in development, is the first step to achieving that goal of building a truly personalized radio. Today, you can use AMP to say, for instance, that you want to hear songs like Pearl Jam’s slower music, but only less popular songs, and those you probably have not heard. Popularity and discovery are different settings, to be clear – just because music is “popular,” that doesn’t mean you’ve actually heard it. And Senzari knows what you’ve heard, to some extent, by mining your “likes” and those of your friends on Facebook. It also knows things like the age of your friends, location, what apps people use and who you chat with the most in the Senzari Facebook chat sidebar. All these signals combined help to influence its ability to know what you may or may not have yet heard.
Senzari thinks of itself as not a music company, but a technology company which is focused for now on music. But that being said, it has ideas as to how it can take on the music radio incumbent Pandora. Its “recommendable” catalog encompass some 18-19 million songs (up from 11 million in May) and far more than Pandora’s 900,000. And it’s also targeting worldwide markets, while Pandora remains U.S.-only. Senzari is now available not only in the U.S., but also Spain, Brazil, and just recently, the U.K. It’s rolling out to Italy and parts of Latin America next, and expects to arrive on mobile by October.
In the meantime, users in supported regions can try the new AMP recommendation engine here on the web.