Could Sonalytic help Spotify build, not buy SoundCloud?


We reported yesterday on Spotify’s acquisition of British startup Sonalytic, which we’d tipped as one to watch in our recent innovation and startups report.

“Their advancements in audio feature detection will be used in several ways to advance Spotify’s mission: from improving Spotify’s personalised playlists to matching songs with compositions to improve our publishing data system,” claimed Spotify in its blog post.

But the more we think about the deal, the more our thoughts turn back to the recent rumours that Spotify was considering buying SoundCloud, before backing away from such a move.

As we wrote in our startups report, for Sonalytic “the ability to locate musical stems within derivative works taps in to a problem being tackled by several other companies, from SoundCloud to Dubset and MetaPop”.

If Spotify is so minded, then, it could use Sonalytic’s technology to build its own version of the kind of technology SoundCloud has been developing – and thus open up Spotify’s platform to the kind of mixes, mash-ups and other user-generated content that has been the engine behind SoundCloud’s growth.

(Hat tip to Hendrik Schreiber, who made this very point in a tweeted reply to our story yesterday.)

While there is no indication that Spotify is planning such a move – and there would certainly be a spirited debate among rightsholders if the company did go down the UGC route – the fact that Sonalytic seemingly provides some of the tools to make that possible sheds new light on Spotify’s decision not to buy SoundCloud.

But as we said yesterday, helping the streaming service plug the gaps in its publishing data system is likely the priority. In that, we’re reminded of blockchain startup Blokur boss Phil Barry’s comments at by:Larm last week.

“I happen to know that for one of the biggest music services in the world, only for 20% of all the recordings on that platform do they know who the publishers are. It’s 80% by value, but 20% by recordings,” he said.

Even if Barry wasn’t talking about Spotify, it certainly faces the same challenge, so if Sonalytic can help its ongoing efforts to find a solution, it will be a welcome step forward for the company.

Written by: Stuart Dredge