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?
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.
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.
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.