Music Startup Echo Nest, Born at MIT, Bought by Spotify

It’s a big day for The Echo Nest. Like so many Boston-area tech startups, the company is becoming part of a much bigger team through an acquisition.

The Somerville, MA-based music company said today it has been acquired by Spotify, the Swedish streaming-music giant that has become prominent in the U.S. in recent years. The two companies have been working together for a few years already.

Terms of the deal weren’t given. The Echo Nest was founded in 2005 (it’s actually a bit older than Spotify) and has raised more than $25 million in venture funding from investors including Commonwealth Capital Ventures, Matrix Partners, and Norwest Venture Partners.

“We’re all staying in town, our API [application programming interface] stays up, and every single person at our company will continue to focus on building the future of music,” Echo Nest wrote on its blog.

My colleague Wade wrote an in-depth profile when Echo Nest came out of stealth in 2008. The basic idea was a technological way to do Web-based music recommendations. The company was founded by MIT Media Lab grads Tristan Jehan and Brian Whitman.

Led by CEO Jim Lucchese, the 70-person team has kept its heads down, raising increasing amounts of venture capital and competing in the crowded field of music discovery and intelligence, but with an angle for app developers and businesses.

The crux of Echo Nest’s technology is “audio fingerprinting” and machine-learning software that tries to understand the content of songs and people’s reactions to them.

“With The Echo Nest joining Spotify, we will make a big leap forward in our quest to play you the best music possible,” said Spotify CEO and founder Daniel Ek, in a statement.

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