The annual San Francisco Music Tech Summit collects experts and entrepreneurs from around the music industry to discuss technological trends and hurdles. This photograph was taken at a panel on music recommendation services, moderated by Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest. Pictured here from left to right are: Paul Lamere; James Miao (thesixtyone.com); Alex Loscos (BMAT); Stephen White (Gracenote); and Michael Papish (MediaUnbound). With the exception of James Miao, the perspectives on this panel came from people who provide the music recommendation back-end for companies such as eMusic and Rhapsody. Aside from learning about the deep, tangled intricacies analyzing large databases of music and providing relevant recommendations, I came away with two great takeaways. The first: thesixtyone.com is a great way to discover new music (think Digg for music). Second: the next hurdle for intelligent music recommendation services is user context--awareness of the user's geographic location, the delivery device (cell phone, computer, PC), and the intent (frat party, date night, background music).
The Echo Nest's Paul Lamere made a surprise announcement that his company is working on an upcoming version of Spotify that will finally be made available in the U.S. Spotify has been drawing rave reviews overseas, working as a bit of a cross-breed between Pandora's intelligent Internet radio service and Last.fm's emphasis on playlists and new music. For his demonstration Paul showed how Echo Nest song recommendation technology powers a new Spotify feature that builds streaming playlists from a single song. The feature works similar to iTunes Genius playlists or Pandora stations, but seemingly allows playlists to be saved and songs to stream in their entirety. There's no word on when Spotify will make it to the U.S., but I expect it will shake things up when it finally lands.
During a panel on social networking and music, iLike's Ali Partovi pointed out an outstanding suite of tools for musicians, offered free from iLike. Artists can use iLike as a hub for communicating and publishing on multiple platforms, allowing them to update tour dates or band photos on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Bebo, Hi5, etc., from a single dashboard. iLike also allows artists to create and submit iPhone Apps for their band using a template powered by iLike.
I discovered TheSixtyOne.com after listening to the site's creator, James Miao, speak on a panel for music recommendation services. TheSixtyOne does an excellent job showcasing new, popular music, voted on by the site's users in a manner similar to Digg. As users become more involved in recommending music, they earn points, turning the experience into a game of music taste.
From the makers of drop.io comes playlist.io, which was demonstrated at the SF Music Tech Summmit by founder Sam Lessin. The premise is simple: users upload a playlist of songs and playlist.io creates a personal web page for the music that can be accessed and played anywhere in the world. It's a great way to share music with friends or access your favorite songs when you're away from home. Drop.io isn't the first service to do this, but the simplicity of the experience and the sophistication of sharing options (e-mail, twitter, RSS, SMS, Facebook, ZIP file, vCard) make it extremely handy. Playlists can also be streamed to an iPhone using the company's Droppler App.
Matt Morris, a singer-songwriter on Justin Timberlake's Tennman record label treated the 2009 SF Music Tech Summit to a handful of songs. During his opening song, Matt took things interactive by filming a little crowd participation and posting the results to YouTube. It was a well-played move for an audience obsessed with music, tech, and social networking.