Tuesday 22 Jul
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OKG Newsletter

Topic: Clio

Internet, meet Clio

Streaming music may never be the same

While I was in Austin, Texas, for South by Southwest, I was able to talk with Greg Wilder and Alison Conard of Orpheus Media Research. They are touting a service with an April launch called Clio that they feel will revolutionize music listening (its predecessor, Myna, is live now). It’s a computer program that listens to music and categorizes it by its qualities. Doesn’t sound that cool? Wait for it.

Ever heard of the Music Genome Project?

It’s the thing that powers Pandora: dozens and dozens of people sitting around, listening to music, and categorizing it by approximately 400 unique qualities. Each song in MGP can take up to 20 minutes to be organized. Because of this laborious process, Pandora has only about 800,000 tunes in its catalog.

Clio automates the process.
“The analysis time that the computer takes to actually listen to a piece of music is around one to two seconds,” said Wilder, founder and chief science officer.

A three-to-five minute pop track takes literally the length of a snap to process. This means it categorizes tens of millions of tracks at a time.

Repeat: tens of millions of tracks at a time.

Um, wow.

What does this mean? Well, they want to partner with existing services and use Clio to power everything. And by everything, I mean any way that people find music: iTunes Genius, Rhapsody, Amazon, MOG, Pandora and Last.fm are all entities who could benefit from this.

The company is already working in television and movie music, as the screen often demands a song with a very specific mood. If the music director of a production company has a track with the right mood in mind, he or she can plug it into Clio, which will match it to other songs that sound like it in the Vanacore music library, a current partner of Clio. The program then produces a playlist of tracks that sound similar and are available for use.

But Clio’s library isn’t going to only hold production music, or even major-label music. Clio was started by two indie musicians, and they want to help out independent artists. They have plans to partner with companies like ReverbNation and Bandcamp to make large quantities of indie music accessible to Clio, too. That means when the music director puts in one tune he likes — say, a number from post-rock instrumental act Maserati — it will spit out an entire suggested soundtrack — perhaps something by Explosions in the Sky, something by The Non (pictured).  

“That will help independent artists stand right next to established artists based on the quality of their music,” Wilder said.

People who haven’t played a single show could be queued up over U2, as long as their contribution sounds more like the chosen starting song than “Where the Streets Have No Name.” When Clio powers your listening portal of choice, you’ll easily be able to find new things you actually want to hear.

With the processing power that Clio has (remember: tens of millions of songs at a time), it is not an overstatement when the founders compare their endeavor to a musical Google. Clio has the ability to categorize almost every piece of music ever written and make it streamable to you.

Again, wow.

Streaming music may never be the same.


While you’re here, grab these MP3s:

“Lower Away (Unplugged)” — Sunshine Factory. Surprisingly mellow and graceful piano piece.
“Big Sick” — Big Pauper. I guess you don’t need guitars for druggy psych anymore.
“How Does It Feel to Be in Love?” — The Bynars. Probably something like this power-pop gleefest.

by Stephen Carradini 03.25.2011 3 years ago
at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Indie music, indie companies

Three music-related start-ups that may or may not be alive in a year

I am that guy that start-ups hate. I am skeptical of pretty much every company at the ground level (notable exception: Clio).

Nevertheless, there are those who are much earlier adapters than I, so I feel compelled to bring you word of the latest music-related companies that have passed through OKSee’s inbox recently.

Taking advantage of social networks, both Musester and Munite want to create databases of talent, musical and otherwise. Then people can find it easier, right? Well, if we can get people to use it, sure thang, bro.

Munite’s niche is music, allowing people to sign up as everything from “vocalist” and “venue” to more arcane things like “beat boxer,” “roadie” and “agent.” Their website has a clean design and is incredibly easy to navigate.  They also make it easy to sign up, which is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

But there are only 1,380 people signed up at the time of this writing; seeing as those people are spread all over the world (and none are in Oklahoma), Munite seems a thing to keep your eye on more than anything. I like this idea, though, and would really like to see it grow.

Musester spreads its net farther than just music, encompassing all artistic talent: animal talent, architectural design and announcer/host/speaker are all available sign-up categories. If you’ve got any skill that you want to market, you can market it on Musester and see what happens.

Ignoring the fact that it has the kiss ‘o death “–ster” in the name (Friendster, Napster), it seems like a flexible and useful concept. So far in Oklahoma, the photography company Okie Studios and an actor/model named Nathaniel have signed up; both are from the OKC metro. This organization seems a bit further along than Munite, so check it out.
Also taking advantage of social networks, but in a much different way, is Zaarly. This service lets people who have signed up state to the Zaarlyverse (my word, not theirs) what service/thing they need, what they would be willing to pay, and when they need it. If someone is in the vicinity who meets all the reqs, money is exchanged through credit cards, and Zaarly takes a bit. They marketed it to me as a way to beat ticket scalpers, which I don’t really think would work (no incentive for scalpers to use the service, unless they get desperate and stuck with tix, I suppose).

I see it having a lot of other uses, however, and OKC has the honor of being one of the launch cities. I’m still uncertain as to how it all would work in actuality, as opposed to on paper, but it seems like a good concept that could save a lot of time and money for people. On the other hand, it could have too small a user base, or generally be considered too creepy by potential users.

While you’re here, grab these free MP3s:

1. “Welcome Me” — Foot Patrol. If you didn’t get enough of foot fetish funk at NMF4, grab this free track from the Austinite dance crew. (pictured)
2. “When I’m Alone (Live from Shepherd's Bush Empire)” — Lissie. Stevie Nicks and Pat Benatar smile on this impressive performance. (scroll down page for d/l link)
3. “Sing the Same Song Twice” — Helios. Mesmerizing ambient track created mostly on acoustic instruments.

by Stephen Carradini 05.12.2011 3 years ago
at 01:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

The future is Clio

Like Pandora, but infinitely more awesome

Ever since I met the founders of Clio at South by Southwest, I’ve been eagerly anticipating their product’s impact on the music scene. Their idea automates and expands the Pandora music-matching process, making music discovery both more agile and more far-reaching. Their goal is every piece of music ever written, at your fingertips. I am so behind this idea.

Since SXSW, they’ve been making strides. Their first partner, music production library APM, was announced today. Filmmakers will be able to find music for their scores much easier, thanks to Clio’s advanced matching system, which takes into account everything from tempo, instrumentation and melody to seemingly intangible elements like “the groove.”

Greg Wilder and Alison Conard (the idea people behind Clio) are meeting with bigwigs of the consumer-facing music discovery products soon, hopefully bringing their technology to the masses, albeit invisibly. If Clio works properly, no one really knows it’s there – listeners just somehow feel that the service they’re using today is a ton better than it was yesterday at figuring out what they actually want to listen to.

I was sent some exclusive demos of the product that have me pretty stoked. The first demo used APM’s music catalog; while it was really cool to hear rock seamlessly morph into bossa nova in just a few short steps, it was mainly a geek-out thing. I’m that guy who makes sure the beginning and endings of songs fade into each other on mixes, so matching internal rhythm to internal rhythm through genre is immensely appealing to me. The software recognizes so much information that you can make almost perfect-transition mixes, in addition to mixes that don’t change moods one single inch.

The second set of demos was even more revealing, as it was a set of clips made by Clio that showed various popular songs being discovered via other pop songs. The set that started with Green Day’s “When I Come Around” wasn’t eye-popping on the surface (how hard is it to match up Blink-182 and Green Day?), but have you ever noticed how closely the guitar tone of “Always” resembles “When I Come Around”? Or of “Short Brown Hair” by Everclear? Then it’s straight into “Favours for Favours” by The Futureheads, which I probably wouldn’t have included in this list, but fits in perfectly, sound-wise and rhythm-wise.

That’s the great thing about Clio: It doesn’t care about demographics. Sure, Blink and Green Day sound similar and are in the same scene. But Futureheads are in a completely different scene, but sound similar. A teenage pop-punker could get turned on to indie rock via this list and connections across time and “scene.”

Other playlists do the same for other genres, but here’s the skinny: Clio works. Once a major player or two representing true independents (Bandcamp? Please please please please?) is funneled into Clio, there’s literally nothing stopping U2 fans from hearing your music if your band sounds like U2. That is a major boon for independent bands and music lovers.

Stay tuned for more info from the Clio guys; it will be big stuff. Clio will change the way people discover music, and you may not even know that it’s doing so.

by Stephen Carradini 07.15.2011 3 years ago
at 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)