Pandora's acquisition follows other deals that have gradually consolidated the world of data-tracking in music. Last year, Spotify bought the Echo Nest, a company that finds patterns in the songs people listen to. In January news emerged that Apple had bought Semetric, which competes with Next Big Sound by gathering information of music's popularity online.
Terms of Pandora's deal for Next Big Sound were not disclosed. In a similar deal, Spotify paid 49.7 million euros for the Echo Nest, worth about $55 million today. And this year, Apple bought a similar company, Semetric, in a deal that British news media outlets estimated at about $50 million.
Next Big Sound has quickly become a standard part of the analytical sphere of the music industry, digesting the ebbs and flows of artists' popularity through activity on YouTube, Twitter, Wikipedia and elsewhere. It sells its analyses to record companies and other outlets, and its reports on music consumption are frequently cited by the music press.
Brian P. McAndrews, Pandora's chief executive, said in a statement that "the combination of Pandora's listening data and Next Big Sound's analytical capabilities will create a vital source of data." Alex White, who started the first version of Next Big Sound as a student at Northwestern University - it was then a kind of online talent contest - said of the deal, "We've found a great partner who, like us, believes data has the power to transform the music industry."
Pandora, which has some 79 million regular users and is one of the most popular of all apps on mobile devices, last year unveiled its own data-tracking system, the Artist Marketing Platform, which gives artists free access to a range of information about how their songs are being played on Pandora. Through its deal, Next Big Sound would also gain new access to Pandora's data stores.
A spokeswoman for Pandora said that there would be "no immediate changes" in how Next Big Sound works with its existing customers. But in the competitive world of online music data, the deal with Pandora could change alliances. After Spotify bought the Echo Nest last year, a rival music service, Rdio, quickly dropped that company as its partner for help in making music recommendations to customers.
Pandora's frosty relationship with the music industry may add another dimension to the Next Big Sound deal. While Pandora has recently made some efforts to improve its dealings with artists and record labels, like its artist management platform and promotional deals, it has also fought against labels, music publishers and songwriters over royalty rates.
© 2015 New York Times News Service