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May 19, 2017updated 29 Jun 2022 9:31am

Spotify acquires AI startup to compete with Apple Music

Niland has been acquired by the well-known music streamer.

By Joe Clark

Spotify has acquired artificial intelligence startup, Niland, in order to increase the efficiency of its music recommendation service.

Niland will help the music streamer compete with competitors such as Apple Music and Pandora in providing the most relevant music suggestions to its 100 million plus users.

The method used by Niland is different to how Pandora functions, which uses musicologists to apply tags to music in order for them to be properly sorted by algorithms.

In a statement Spotify said: “We are pleased to welcome Paris-based machine learning startup Niland to the Spotify family. Niland has changed the game for how AI technology can optimise music search and recommendation capabilities and shares Spotify’s passion for surfacing the right content to the right user at the right time.”

The Niland style of machine learning is capable of analysing the audio of music and can even determine what sort of instrument is being played in order to help cross reference other songs to identify similar themes.

This not the first time that Spotify has entertained the idea of introducing artificial intelligence to its service. In 2014, Spotify intern Sander Dieleman published a paper on how content-based music recommendation could be used by the service but Dieleman has since gone on to work at Google Deepmind.

Alex Guillen, Go-to-Market Manager at Insight said: “Spotify buying an AI start up to stay ahead of its competition is something many businesses can really learn from. Digital disruption is impacting businesses large and small the potential impact of AI to help them keep pace with the fast rate of change is worth getting excited about.”

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“Implementing AI to improve and modernise numerous, repetitive operations has a significant impact on efficiencies, giving businesses the freedom to allocate their resources towards reaching new customers or even focus on innovation.”

In December Apple Music announced that it had 20 million paying subscribers, whilst Spotify passed the 50 million mark earlier this year.

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