If hack days are the Seattle grunge scene 2.0, then Echo Nest is Sub Pop circa 1991. At least that's how it seems now that the larger music world is recognizing how integral app advancements are to steering the industry forward. On April 28, MTV will host its first annual O Music Awards ("to celebrate online creativity"), where Lamere and his teenage daughter Jennie are up for Best Music Hack. Their nominated app, Jennie's Ultimate Road Trip, uses the Songkick and Echo Nest APIs to help music fans find tour dates for their favorite artists in each town along any travel route.
The Lameres engineered their app at last year's Boston Music Hack Day, as did two of the other OMA nominees for Best Music Hack. In fact, these powwows have become ground zero for cataclysmic developments, from the aforementioned Invisible Instruments iPhone violin app, to sQRatchLive, which allows users to instantaneously buy whatever track a DJ is playing in the club.
Moving forward, the Echo Nest's new visual remix tech will allow users to personalize music videos in real time, so that your friends' ugly faces — rather than Kanye's — will fill your screen. Equally awesome are their soon-arriving "query-by-description" apps, which are essentially digital versions of the grease-ball snots behind record-store counters to whom customers hum songs. To keep tabs on all this, the Echo Nest even launched its own blog, evolver.fm, to serve as a critical clearinghouse for breaking music-app developments.
"There is something for everyone out there — it's just a matter of finding what works for you," says evolver.fm editor Eliot Van Buskirk. A former writer for CNET and Wired, Van Buskirk has surveyed the digital landscape for more than a decade; Echo Nest hired him to review music apps and evaluate the marketplace. "I'm testing an app right now that quizzes you about what you're doing this weekend, and then picks songs to go with that. And that's kind of the point to a lot of this — it's fun, it's free, and people who aren't music geeks are now able to do some incredible stuff."
"We understand the entire language of music better than anyone else to date," says Lucchese, "and now we've put that research and analysis into the hands application developers. . . . To us, there's no doubt about it — this is the new class of creative people who are reshaping the role of music in our lives. With them, we're aiming toward where things are heading, and making sure that we're still around when it explodes."
Chris Faraone can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow him on Twitter at @fara1.