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AI INNOVATORS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

The CMU Insights AI Conference at The Great Escape will feature a number of innovative companies showcasing their new technologies. Across the day we will find out how these businesses are changing the way music is monitored, marketed and made.

Ahead of the conference, we are asking each of these companies our ‘big three questions’ about their products and their vision for the future. You can check out their answers here…


WARM ANSWER OUR BIG THREE QUESTIONS

WARM is using audio-recognition technology to make radio monitoring faster, cheaper and more comprehensive. Find out more about how this works at The AI Conference.

Q: From a user’s perspective, how does your service work?
A: WARM is an online platform and app where everyone can monitor their songs as they are played on radio stations around the world in realtime. As a user, you upload an MP3 file of your track onto www.warmmusic.net and – once processed – we will automatically track all your radio airplays of this song.

Where other radio monitoring platforms focus on large stations, WARM aims to track all music radio stations in the world. Currently we are tracking over 25,000! Once we are tracking your song on all those stations, all your airplay data is provided in realtime, including duration, country, city and station name.

WARM is a service built primarily for the long-tail of the music industry – artists, bands, managers, independent labels and booking agencies. I wanted WARM to be as affordable as possible, with a price that means everyone can use it.

Q: Behind the scenes, how does it work from a technical perspective?
A: We create a unique audio fingerprint of the MP3 file that is uploaded and this runs in a loop on all the stations all the time. Whenever there is a match, the song data and information about the airplay will be visible on the user’s dashboard. This shows within 15-20 secs after the airplay. The core technology is based on a special patented algorithm.

Q: What technology advances do you expect to future enhance your service in the coming years?
A: AI-suggested song recommendation and genre specification is something we will be working with a lot in the coming months. We believe there is a massive potential for distributing an artist or label’s music to radio stations directly based on machine learning, and understanding and determining the genres and specialisms of each station. And this could potentially be implemented to other formats as well.


JUKEDECK ANSWER OUR BIG THREE QUESTIONS

Jukedeck is using AI technology to create tools that can compose music. Find out more about how this works at The AI Conference.

Q: From a user’s perspective, how does your service work?
A: Our site lets users choose a bunch of high-level musical settings – such as genre, mood, length (down to the second), speed (down to the exact BPM), and where in the track a climax should occur – and create unique, rights-cleared tracks that fit those settings.

Every track you generate is original and unique, and is cleared to use globally on all platforms. Once you’ve created a track, you can go back and edit it, doing things like changing the duration – and you can download your finished tracks, which are free if you’re an individual creator and are happy to credit us where you end up using the music.

Q: Behind the scenes, how does it work from a technical perspective?
A: We use deep learning – specifically, artificial neural networks – training a system to be able to generate original melodies and chord sequences on demand. When you request a new track, our neural networks generate a totally new musical score, which is then automatically produced by our custom-built audio engine. The finished MP3 or WAV file is sent back to you, with the whole process taking between 20 seconds and a couple of minutes.

Q: What technological advances do you expect to further enhance your service in the coming years?
A: We’re about to release an API, which will let application developers embed our service into their apps. We’re also working on some big expansions to our editing functionality, which will give users much more control over what happens in their music.

Finally, we’re always working on the underlying machine learning models and automatic music production system that compose and produce the music, and continued improvements to this system should mean the music available on our platform gets better and better.


POP ANSWER OUR BIG THREE QUESTIONS

POP is busy moving the fan conversation over to Facebook Messenger. Find out more about how this works at The AI Conference.

Q: From a user’s perspective, how does your service work?
A: POP makes it easy to build and engage an audience of fans or customers using Facebook Messenger.

For many people Facebook Messenger (or ‘Messenger’) is “just another messaging app” – similar to WhatsApp, iMessage or even plain old text messages. In fact Messenger is a powerful tool to engage fans or customers at scale, offering a compelling way to communicate using interactive content and story-telling. At POP we have built a simple platform with an easy-to-use content management system that lets you do cool stuff on Messenger.

“Traditional” social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram promised a lot. Suddenly you could talk directly to your audience, create exciting content and get it right in front of the people who might be interested in your event. But over time, this promise has been eroded. Congested social feeds have meant platforms like Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram have brought in algorithms to sort content and determine who sees what. It’s difficult to reach fans.

Messenger is different because once fans connect with you on Messenger, they actually get the messages you send – no filter getting in the way of your content – and we typically see sky-high open rates on messages – 80-90% or higher.

This is all pretty new stuff though – in fact, Facebook only opened up the Messenger API in April 2016. This means a lot of people are still getting to grips with what you can do using Messenger, and what works well.

A lot of people think that the power of Messenger is about building “chatbots” and AI-powered experiences. But the reality is that as soon as you ask users to type things to a chatbot, the failure rate is huge. We’ve focused on the other side of what messaging is about – which is delivering a great way to tell stories, and reaching fans at scale with narrative flows and interactive messaging.

Q: Behind the scenes, how does it work from a technical perspective?
A: We build directly on top the Facebook Messenger API, and are an official Facebook Messenger Platform Development Provider, so are fully compliant with Facebook’s Messenger policies.

In terms of actually building your messaging flows and interactions, we’ve focused on simplicity as much as possible. To begin to create a flow of messages, you simply click, add some text or media, and save. These flows of messages can be used in two places – as the first interaction someone sees when they connect with you on Messenger, but also as a way to deliver onward content.

You can deliver interactive content through Messenger and direct people down different routes using ‘quick reply’ buttons. Quick reply buttons are one of the key features of automating Messenger – they function either like menu buttons or prompts for content. Quick replies are powerful because we find that the less typed input required from a user, the better the experience.

We have a component picker that lets you add rich media – images, gifs, video. Native video works very nicely in Messenger and offers a great user experience for fans. Or you can create simple content cards – a great way to link to a YouTube video, Spotify/Apple Music track or back to a piece of content on a website.

Once you’ve created your messaging flow you can review privately with your own Messenger account to ensure everything is working the way you want it, and then push it live – either as the first interaction for people on your Messenger channel, or as live update to fans who have already connected.

Q: What technological advances do you expect to further enhance your service in the coming years?
A: We are a young company, and as such we are focused on building a product that offers the best and easiest way to engage fans on Messenger. We are always looking at what the future holds, and I think that as Messenger grows as a platform there will be increasingly broad uses – and almost certainly more things that are made available through the Messenger API.

I think we can get one view of the future by looking at the Chinese app WeChat – which now has over one billion users worldwide. WeChat is an end-to-end private/social/transactional platform where you can message privately with friends but also interact and transact with services, brands, artists and celebrities.

At POP our focus remains on helping drive engagement through messaging – and we feel that this future lies in people using messenger to tell stories effectively.

I think we will also see an increased use of Messenger – and potentially other messaging platforms – as a transactional platform in the coming years. A few years ago when people were talking about how mobile devices would come to dominate e-commerce I remember feeling very doubtful that I would ever be making significant numbers of e-commerce transactions from my mobile – but now I book flights, buy furniture, all sorts of things – all from a smartphone.

I think the same revolution will apply for messaging – you might not see it now, but in a few years I am sure that engaging and transacting inside Messenger and other messaging platforms will be second nature to us all.


ENTS24 ANSWER OUR BIG THREE QUESTIONS

Live entertainment guide Ents24 has been busy building tools that utilise years of historical user data to recommend shows and events, including a ‘smart gift finder’. Find out more about these tools at The AI Conference.

Q: From a user’s perspective, how does your service work?
A: Given the breadth of events we list as the UK’s biggest live guide, visitors come to us for suggestions and inspiration as well as info and tickets for specific shows. Our Event Affinity Engine fuels a range of new tools, including our Smart Gift Finder. The Gift Finder takes a few pieces of info about the user – or a friend or relative of theirs – cross-references them with what we already know about the fans of thousands of acts, and provides a tailored, relevant list of shows happening near them.

Because we work with most major ticket agents, we can then direct fans to tickets regardless of which trusted agent has them, and we’re free to switch between agents as various allocations run out, keeping us agile and reliable.

The Engine also forms the heart of a number of new features launching soon, including one that combines data from any music fan with our wealth of data about the UK’s fan landscape, suggesting the ideal festival for each person, but also which acts on the line-up they’re most likely to enjoy. Perfect for an event like The Great Escape, where fans may be faced with hundreds of bands that are new to them and want to know who to watch.

These features mean an end to the generic, blunt gift/festival guides that currently exist – eg ‘Gifts for Dads’, ‘You like Ozzy so why not try Download’ etc. Our Event Affinity Engine connects fans to events they’ll love, as well as presenting relevant festivals to fans in the best possible light.

Q: Behind the scenes, how does it work from a technical perspective?
A: Ents24 has over a decade of archived user behaviour data consisting of millions of tracks (when a user explicitly registers their interest in a band, venue or event in order to receive email alerts), ticket transactions, competition entries, clicks, views and so on. We also have demographic data such as age and location for many of our 2.8 million registered users.

Secondly, we have the UK’s most comprehensive events database, maintained by a team of experts, complete with rich entity-relationship connections. We represent these connections natively within a graph database, and this allows for much more interesting and rapid inference during modelling when compared with flat datasets which rely solely on collaborative filtering or matrix factorisation, for example. This wide search space means that we can identify and recommend small, local events as well as the major ticketed concerts.

We combine both collaborative and content-based models to form a hybrid recommender system, the parameters of which we then tune using expert domain knowledge and user feedback – the former derived from over fifteen years of industry experience, and the latter is provided by sampling from our two million monthly users.

Q: What technological advances do you expect to further enhance your service in the coming years?
A: The field of Deep Learning is becoming progressively more accessible via cloud-based tools and APIs, and our initial investigations have shown much potential in leveraging this technology for fine-tuning event recommendations.

Also, Ents24 is an early adopter of graph databases, and as this technology matures we expect to see further innovations in storage and retrieval mechanisms that will enhance the responsiveness of our systems.

We look forward to continuing to combine industry knowledge, the country’s most comprehensive listings and what we know and can learn about fans and ticket buyers to solve genuine problems for fan and industry alike.


TGE:CONVENTION PASSES

FULL DELEGATE PASS gets you access to both the convention and the festival on all four days – click here to buy.
CONVENTION-ONLY PASS gets you access to the convention on all four days – click here to buy.
EDUCATION CONFERENCE PASS gets you access to The Education Conference on Wednesday 16th May – click here to buy.


FIND OUT MORE about this year’s TGE:CONVENTION