April 04, 2013

How APIs are helping reshape the music industry


APIs are accelerating massive industry shifts in Healthcare, Data, Transportation, Financial Services, and Travel.  However, when it comes to a complete sea change, nothing compares to the shifts the music industry is facing.  While being immersed in the SXSW conference last month, I uncovered a clearer picture of what is to come, and how APIs will help the music industry and music fans.

With our Circus Mashimus tent taken down, photo booths packed up, and startup buses headed home, the interactive part of the festival came to a close. However, that didn’t mean tech left SXSW.  APIs are solving some big problems in the music industry and making its future sound better than ever.

During the music portion of the festival, I attended a dynamic panel discussion with some top executives from the industry APIs: How Do We Foster and Support Competition In A Highly Competitive Sandbox?

Here are my takeaways:


With the proliferation of new devices, smartphones, and web-enabled appliances, the consumer is empowered like never before. The next generation consumer wants to listen to music how, when and where they want.  Fortunately, this is possible with streaming and APIs.  For example, Rdio’s API enables innovative apps that play music on the web, on a Mac or PC, in your pocket or your living room.  The consumer has complete choice.

A New Market

Music companies, artists, and labels are all cautious about change.  Now that streaming music is available via subscription, questions emerge on how it affects music’s bottom line.  Streaming subscriptions are currently at twenty million consumers and growing. iTunes sales are soon to hit 100 billion downloads. The expansion of the streaming market will only accelerate thanks to APIs and developer programs.  


Discovering new music is no longer about browsing record stores or watching music videos on MTV.  Developers are using APIs and building apps to discover new music.  For example, MusicMaze utilizes The Echo Nest, one of my favorite music APIs, and Rdio.  This mashup allows you to “wander” through various artists leveraging a similarity engine.  If you are a big fan of Grimes, it helps uncover similar sounding new artists like Purity Ring, Zola Jesus, and oOoOO.

If you listen to music while you are jogging through the park or on the treadmill, Android Pedometer project finds songs based on your running cadence.  Check out some additional apps here.

Thanks to a number of accessible music APIs, developers are empowered like never before.   Not only will they craft innovative experiences for consumers, but will pave the way for new revenue streams for artists and record companies alike. If you would like to learn more about APIs, contact us today!