Rdio Will Drop The Echo Nest For Music Recommendations Post-Spotify Acquisition

Music streaming service Rdio is getting rid of partner The Echo Nest, its CEO Anthony Bay told CNBC in an interview published this week (via Verge). The news comes despite promises by The Echo Nest and new owner Spotify that they’ll continue to offer free access, and continue its support of commercial partners for The Echo Nest API even after the Rdio competitor has taken over the music recommendation company.

Much of Rdio’s autoplay, recommendation, radio and personalization features rely on The Echo Nest tech, but Bay says in the interview that his company has “other good partners,” and that they’ll stop using The Echo Nest as a partner and use other ones instead. While Spotify may not be cutting off paid partner access immediately, this is probably a wise move, since overcoming dependence on The Echo Nest ahead of any potential change to how Spotify works with commercial partners will serve Rdio better in terms of long-term survival.

Spotify could easily flip a switch that keeps proprietary advantages at home with its streaming service, while providing API partners with a sort of watered down experience relative to The Echo Nest’s music intelligence technology. Any external streaming service relying on them for a significant portion of their business would do well to follow Rdio’s example.

But Rdio will also face challenges moving on, since so much of its streaming business was focused on the automation provided by The Echo Nest’s ability to match like songs and artists with one another, and to analyze a user’s collection and provide them with new content to discover. It’s true that rivals like Gracenote and others offer similar service, but The Echo Nest’s many years of experience focused on this single problem have made it a category leader, for good reason.

Rdio lags Spotify in terms of users, and has recently faced layoffs and a failed venture into video content with Vdio, so it’s definitely not all roses and sunshine for the streaming startup. Bay makes it seem like moving away from The Echo Nest as a tech partner will be a relatively smooth transition, but it’s still a change that could affect UX and service quality, so we’ll have to wait and see how well they manage the shift.