San Francisco Music Tech Summit late yesterday afternoon. It's the eighth summit and the place was packed.I stopped by the
There are a few reasons for that: Music Hack Day over the weekend, Google I/O tomorrow and - supporting both - a new rising tide of developers who Stephen O'Grady and the Redmonk crew call "The New King Makers."
Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest said in an interview with me yesterday that developers are the music industry's new gatekeepers. Kingmaker or gatekeeper - it's hard to refute the developers strength. Just look at Google - which has chosen Google I/O, a developer conference, to reportedly announce a music locker service.
Google is banging the developer gong. But is the innovation with Google or with the latest generation of developer communities that are springing up around events like Music Hack Day?
Google is expected to announce a service that will allow people to store up to 20,000 songs. That's fine but the innovation is already in full speed, elsewhere, with the developers who are using the services such as Rdio and Echo Nest to create Pandora like services with ten lines of code.
As an example, let's say I wanted to build a Pandora-style radio on top of Rdio (the lawyers won't let me call it Pandordio for some reason). To do so I can make a call to the Echo Nest API to build a playlist and then resolve each track in the playlist to an Rdio track so that I can play it in the player.
So, is it really about the number of songs you can have in a locker or how to make sense of all the music in your collection?
That's the big question. Lamere makes the point that the labels are starting to open up their music troves to developers. It's like the old gatekeepers turning over the keys to a new generation. Developers now face a challenge and that's how to make sense of all this information.
Lamere sees developers focusing on a few major trends.
Visualization: This is part of a bigger trend we are seeing more often as everyone tries to find better ways to understand the vast amounts of data available. Lamere offered huesound.org as an example. With huesound.org, you pick a hue from a color wheel. It then presents a selection of music representative of that color. Moodagent is another example of this type of service.
Curation: Lamere says it's hard to trust an algorithm. Developers are trying to build systems that have the same level of trust as you get in a DJ.
Social Feedback: How can systems provide better recommendations than just the usual same old stuff?
I am about to head over to Gogole I/O. In this blog, we look at how infrastructure is helping differentiate applications at the top of the stack. The developer innovation is possible due to the infrastructure that is available. We'll see how Google's infrastructure will help developers create a new innovation cycle that is really beginning to boom.