Music Needs Context: The Echo Nest’s Rosetta Stone Delivers

November 20, 2013

We recently explained how we are making “social” music more than a buzzword by removing the boundaries between music fans that prevent them from sharing music across services, and from finding others who share a similar taste in music. We’re working on removing these obstacles to horizontal integration with The Echo Nest’s Rosetta Stone, a universal translator for music services and social networks, and Musical Identity, our detailed understanding of each music fan on many leading services around the world.

Happily, The Echo Nest’s Rosetta Stone can also enable vertical integration between services that do different things. The end result: a music ecosystem that works more powerfully for music fans, while creating more opportunities for all kinds of music businesses.

If you’re watching a music video, you might be interested in concert tickets from that band, or maybe you’ve just created an artist radio station, and want to see that artist on Facebook or Twitter to see what they’re up to. By working with music companies and social networks that do completely different things from each other, we’re building the plumbing to connect them. This plumbing might not sound sexy, but it’s powerful.

Here’s what happens today when a music fan wants to know something having to do with music: They search Google for the artist or song, appending “lyrics,” “tickets,” “discography,” or “Twitter,” depending on what they’re looking for. Then, they hunt and peck through the search results to try to find what they’ve been after the whole time, assuming they don’t get distracted along the way.

By connecting the dots between all of the things people seek about music, from concert tickets to lyrics, to social network profiles to the music itself, we’re building a future where music fans don’t have to do all of the manual, time-consuming work to unite the fragmented elements of the music ecosystem on their own, which might not even deliver the right results anyway. Instead, the relevant stuff will be in front of them already, and it will be correct.

The key to this: The Echo Nest’s Rosetta Stone, which translates the unique identifiers referring to artists and songs in an accurate, scalable way across services. The upshot: Apps, the services themselves, social networks, and all sorts of other resources can simply plug in to forge connections between any of the following:

Listening

Fan-Artist Relationships

Communities & Research

Concerts & Tickets

Lyrics

With every Rosetta Stone partner we add, developers gain another resource that can be integrated right alongside any other Rosetta Stone partner.

Here’s one way that works. SeatGeek, the largest event ticket search engine, helps connect fans to concerts and events in their area. Through SeatGeek’s participation in Rosetta Stone, Rhapsody was able to more easily integrate touring information and ticket purchase links into their Rhapsody Concerts app earlier this year.

As another example, Foursquare was looking to include the official Twitter handles of musicians to users’ concert venue check-ins. They came to The Echo Nest, and with Rosetta Stone, they were able pull artists’ verified accounts into the app, increasing the social context around Foursquare activity while giving musicians more insight into their fans’ activities.

"Direct to fan marketing" has been a hot topic for years, but until now, it hasn’t integrated vertically with the services people are already using to listen to music, read lyrics, look for concert tickets, and like or follow favorite artists. Rosetta Stone brings SeatGeek, Foursquare, and soon, other direct-to-fan platforms into the real digital music ecosystem — the one fans actually use.

The result — scalable context around music — will make it much easier for fans to follow an artist on Rdio, Spotify, Twitter, or Facebook; enjoy Foursquare incentives by checking in at concerts; buy SeatGeek tickets directly inside streaming music apps; and do too many other interconnected things to list here.

People don’t care about plumbing. Why should they? They just want the sink to work.

By resolving unique IDs up and down the whole music stack, we’re uniting the fragmented digital music ecosystem not only horizontally for frictionless sharing, but also vertically for context. This is going to be interesting.