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Teosto API will give developers access to music live data


Teosto opens its data and is a partner in Open Finland Challenge innovation competition. Teosto’s researcher Turo Pekari explains why music data is increasingly important in music business and why music data should be more open.

After Napster, iTunes and the rise of music streaming services, music business has become more and more data-driven. In Finland, digital music sales are already over 50 % of the total recording industry revenues. At the same time, the amount of data and information on music consumption has increased exponentially.

What is music data? It could be described as detailed information about music use, musical works, creators, artists or music consumers. To be more concrete: music data is Youtube and Spotify play counts, social media followers, tour statistics, radio monitoring data, sales data and metadata. Basically it is any data that can be linked to a specific track or composition.

The players in music data ecosystem can be divided into several different groups: music services like Spotify and Youtube, content metadata services like The Echo Nest, Gracenote or Rovi, music analytics companies like Next Big Sound and content recognition services like Shazam or Soundhound. Then there are – of course – record labels and collective management organisations, which manage the data of works and performances and provide unique identifiers to works.

Better data = better service

10 years ago it was impossible to get accurate data on music consumption. People mainly bought CDs from stores. Afterwards we could only guess how people consumed the music they had purchased.

Today, the situation is very different from that. Music data plays an important role in music industry market insight. There are also plenty of tools for artists and bands to get insight of their fan base, to plan tours and follow how their music is listened globally.

The recent acquisitions of music data and analytics companies highlight just how important and valuable music data can be. Last year Spotify bought music metadata provider The Echo Nest. Earlier this year Apple bought music analytics company Semetric. In May, streaming service Pandora bought music analytics company The Next Big Sound.

There seems to be a music metadata war going on. The reason is obvious: with high quality analytics and metadata, companies are able to provide better services for their customers.

For example companies need to be able to identify content accurately and enrich it with metadata which includes artist information, pictures, videos, merchandise and so on. Data also enables them to recommend content based on similarity or relatedness, behavior of users, target advertising based on users music taste and finally report content usage on a regular basis to a large number of right holders.

The value of good data is even bigger for collective management organisations. For Teosto and others, data is a key element in business. Without accurate data it is impossible to distribute royalties to right holders in any reasonable way.

When music is listened increasingly online, the scale of music data has grown exponentially. At the same time the income per play for music creators is only a fraction of the income from the traditional uses. The big challenge is how to handle all the data cost effectively and at the same time with high accuracy.

Open Music Data?

Music business is not known for its openness and in history the tendency has been to keep all data private. New players in digital business have changed the game. Streaming services, metadata providers and recently also broadcasting companies like Yle and BBC have APIs which allow third parties to access their content data.

We have followed intensively the developments and discussion on open data during the past years. This year we also take part in the Finnish open data community with our own effort. We hope that our participation will encourage others to give access to their private data.

We see tremendous possibilities in using our data in more innovative ways. Since Teosto’s purpose is to serve its right holders, our primary focus is to design new services for music authors and publishers. Secondly our data could also provide useful information to all music lovers and media. Thirdly our data should benefit the whole society. For example the data from gigs and music festivals could play an important part in estimating the economic impact of the creative sector and music industry for cities and municipalities.

Last but not the least we want to be a pioneer in Finland for promoting a more open culture and transparency in music and copyright industry. In the long run, this objective serves all the previous goals.

Teosto API will be released in August

In 2015 Teosto is one of the partners in Open Finland Challenge innovation competition. We are developing Teosto API for developers that will be launched in August 2015. Teosto API will give developers access to Teosto’s live data, with information on events, festivals, gigs, venues, authors, artists and location information. Teosto live data is the largest source of live music data and information in Finland.

In the competition we are looking for new ideas and ways to enrich Teosto’s data from other data sources. Examples of this could be merging other available geolocation datasets to Teosto’s live data or use available music metadata sources to enrich our data on gigs, songs played, authors and artists. The solution could be an app, a tool or a visualisation. We will also take into account the solutions’ usefulness in future development projects with Teosto and the new possibilities that they might create to music authors, artists or consumers.

I am proud to present the first Teosto Hack Day which will be held September 18th on Teosto’s premises in Helsinki in collaboration with Open Finland Challenge organisation. The best competition entry will be announced at Open Finland Challenge gala in November.

If you are in Tampere in October, you should also check out discussion on Teosto data and Teosto Hack Day at Musiikki & Media event October 15-17. More information on Teosto API and Teosto Hack Day will be available through Teosto’s social media and Open Finland Challenge info channels in August. You can also hook up with me at Mindtrek Openmind event if you are interested to hear more.

Turo Pekari, researcher, Teosto
Twitter: @s1truuna, @Teosto_ry

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