Home SoundCloud and Last.fm APIs Mashed Up into New Music Discovery App

SoundCloud and Last.fm APIs Mashed Up into New Music Discovery App

A music discovery app for iOS that went live recently shows just what’s possible when digital music services open up their libraries and functionality via powerful APIs. Twist Radio takes the music recommendation engine from Last.fm and uses it to help users explore music from SoundCloud.

The result is an app that lets users discover more obscure, independent and often homemade music, rather than a catalogue of music that’s only been formally released by record labels. That’s because SoundCloud hosts mostly user-generated music, including covers, mashups and original compositions. Some more established artists and labels have even embraced Soundcloud and uploaded commercially released albums to the service. It’s essentially the YouTube of audio.

Searching Twist Radio for The Beatles won’t return a station consisting of studio recordings by the band, but rather a collection of mashups, remixes and cover versions of Beatles tunes. By contrast, many newer acts have made their studio recordings available on SoundCloud, and they often sit alongside versions of the same songs recorded and uploaded by fans.

Surpisingly, tapping a song that you find via an artist search does not initiate a recomendation-based station like Pandora or Last.fm. Instead, it adds it to your personalized station. The recommendations come into play earlier in the search process. A search for “The Flaming Lips” returns music by that band, as well as several acts that are deemed similar by Last.fm’s data.

Since the content on SoundCloud is so varied – some artists have full albums, some have 30-second clips, while others have only remixes, mashups and covers – the experience of using the app can be a bit varied as well. On the whole, it’s a pretty effective way to discover new music beyond the large but inherintly limited catalogs of streaming services like Spotify, Mog and Rdio.

A Different Kind of Mash-Up: APIs Fuel Music 2.0

If nothing else, this is a creative fusion of two APIs from different music services that results in a new music-listening experience. It’s the same kind of data mash-up we’ve seen on a variety of projects that utilize the massive Echo Nest music recommendation data set. For example, one developer created a recommendation engine for Spotify, which is a feature sorely lacking from the popular music streaming service.

Developers have been using the Last.fm API for years to build all kinds of new mashups and apps for discovering and listening to music.

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