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BS/MEng Mechanical Engineering
Clifton Park NY

Big Data Meets Music Intelligence with Bob Spina

Alissa Anderson on Sunday, 07 October 2012. Posted in Alumni, Life After RIT, Speakers

The Kate Gleason College of Engineering hosts a weekly alumni speaker series in the Xerox Auditorium. The series is an initiative by the college leadership to provide students with real world examples of engineering in practice. As a duel degree student, I attended the presentations as part of my graduate seminar. The speakers vary from campus professors discussing research projects to RIT alum who work in a variety of fields. My favorite presentation last year was a pair of engineers who worked for a company that specialized in stage design and special effects. The duo talked about their involvement in the creation of the stage for the Cirque du Soleil show “Ka” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. I remember sitting in class and being impressed by the videos and visuals of their design work - I did not fully appreciate the engineering behind the project until I traveled to Vegas over the summer and saw the stage in action - impressive design and major bragging rights for the RIT connection after the show.


This weeks speaker was 1989 grad Bob Spina, discussing interactive music technologies in his presentation “Big Data Meets Music Intelligence.” Spina discussed his experiences with Fortune 500 firms and Boston-area start-up companies. He is now the VP of engineering at Echo Nest, a music intelligence firm. Echo Nest collects and processes musical data ranging from the beats per minute, music genre, and artist, to pop culture associated with the track and artist. Today, Echo Nest has collected over 1 Trillion data points about 34 Million songs, and 2 Million known artists. The data points support platforms for companies like Spotify, MTV, Twitter, iheartradio, and foursquare. After his technical into, Spina introduced us to a series of music applications that have emerged from the data pool... check it out: allows users to connect to related artists through a “maze” of connections 


Roadtrip Mixtaps allows users to input their road trip end points (Rochester, NY to San Francisco, CA) and populates the roadrtip with music from local artists. 


6 Degrees of Black Sabbath (a play off of 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon) allows users to connect any two artists in 6 steps or less!