Spotify Acquires The Echo Nest, Gaining Control Of The Music DNA Company That Powers Its Rivals

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Spotify has acquired The Echo Nest, as revealed by an official blog post today. The financial details of the acquisition haven’t been revealed, but The Echo Nest is a self-described “music intelligence company” that does things like determine what recommendations to make to listeners for automatic streaming radio services. The arrangement will help Spotify gain increased access to a key tech piece that already informed a lot of its service delivery.

The Echo Nest says that its API will remain free and open as part of the deal, which is good news for Spotify rivals including Rdio that use its services to power their own music recommendations. But ultimately this does mean that Spotify gains control over tech that underpins its rivals’ offerings, which is always going to be a tenuous line to walk at best when entire ecosystems depend on the products involved.

In its blog post, The Echo Nest says that it originally built the company to “fix how people were discovering music,” and says that moving from behind the scenes to the main stage with Spotify will help it continue that mission but also open up new challenges and questions that the team will have to answer.

The EchoNest team will continue to operate out of its Somerville HQ just outside of Boston according to a press release offering more information, and its San Francisco satellite office will also continue to run as normal. Both companies cite the continued importance of the developer community as a key focal point to the partnership going forward.

As with any such acquisition, early statements about continued service availability and plans do not necessarily reflect future developments. Plans can change, and it’s not likely that other Internet streaming music services will be thrilled about the idea of having platforms built in part around key tech pieces controlled by their immediate, and largest, competitor.

The Echo Nest’s API partners include Rdio, iHeartRadio, Deezer and Rhapsody, just to name a few. Gracenote offers its own API that provides audio fingerprinting and discovery tech, and recently introduced its Rhythm API to power exactly the kind of Internet radio services described above. The Sony-owned subsidiary has been acquired by Tribune, which could set the streaming industry up for a shift in where it sources its music intelligence.