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Start-up finds Muze with mood music

Just as Microsoft revs up its online music capabilities, MoodLogic is laying the groundwork for the widespread dissemination of its own competing technology.

Just as Microsoft revs up its online music capabilities with new personalization features, a San Francisco start-up is laying the groundwork for the widespread dissemination of its own competing technology.

MoodLogic, whose Music Query Language automates the creation of playlists according to various criteria, this week announced a partnership with Muze, a New York City company that provides data about music and other media titles to the likes of AOL Time Warner's America Online,, Viacom's MTVi, Tower Records, Virgin Mega Stores and Yahoo.

Services such as MoodLogic promise to reinvent music marketing by using technology to lead customers to material they might like well enough to buy. Record labels rely primarily on limited radio playlists, expensive promotional campaigns and word of mouth to push new bands. Music personalization, by contrast, aims to provide listeners the opportunity to describe the kind of songs they want to hear, then use those preferences to search song databases and make suggestions.

Piggybacking on Muze and its wide reach, MoodLogic hopes to serve up a competitive alternative to MSN's new offerings, which it built with technology acquired with MoodLogic competitor MongoMusic.

The relationship between MoodLogic and Muze will integrate the MoodLogic system of identifying songs into the Muze database, making it easier for Muze's corporate customers to turn on MoodLogic's capabilities and in turn offer automated playlist creation to their customers.

Data available through Muze includes song titles, artist names and biographies, reviews, discographies, and cover art. MoodLogic's technology lets listeners search for music and assemble playlists according to criteria such as mood, genre, tempo and similarity to other songs.

Terms of the deal were not announced, but MoodLogic said it sees the matching of their databases as the beginning of a more involved relationship.

"This is a stepping stone to more things we'll be doing together," said MoodLogic representative David McKie. "It breaks down a barrier, which is that MoodLogic being a new company has sales challenges, and Muze has a fantastic sales force and a brand that's been out there many years. This means that companies like Amazon and AOL can with much more ease integrate MoodLogic offerings."

The big hurdle is in translating subjective tastes into information about the songs, called "metadata," that can let listeners compile playlists based on the music's characteristics.

McKie said the company's metadata is unmatched in the industry.

"MoodLogic is in the exciting position to be the only third-party provider that can deliver an off-the-shelf solution to companies that wish to compete with this level of service," he said.

McKie said MoodLogic has metadata on 500,000 songs. By contrast, he said, Microsoft published a report two weeks ago saying it had compiled metadata on just 115,000 songs. Microsoft countered that the document McKie cited referred to the early stage of the MSN Music beta. The current number is closer to 300,000, and MSN has a full-time staff of more than 20 people, called "groovers," continuing to add songs every day, the company said.