Nokia’s Bristol Musicologists – the people behind Nokia Music’s Mix Radio – were named ‘disruptors’ in the April issue of industry publication Music:Ally in a report on ’40 Things Changing Music Forever’.
So who are the people behind the music service and playlist creation for Nokia Music’s Mix Radio app? Conversations talked to Mix Radio musicologists Jethro Borthwick, Mark Lampo and Nick Pointon to find out more about its inner workings.
How many people are in the team?
Jethro: The team currently consists of four people based in Bristol and we organise the majority of the data and create the Mixes that can be defined as global playlists. On top of this, we also have volunteers around the office who also create their own Mixes in their spare time based on their own expertise and passions. Ness from the device on-boarding team just created an awesome ‘Influenced by Bowie’ mix: I highly recommend listening to it.
How are the Mixes created?
J: There are a number of ways that we create Mixes, the main thing is creating mixes that are true to the chosen genre, yet also open the doors to music discovery. The first is based on metadata that we have researched and cleaned over the last five years. This allows us to create candidate lists of tracks that we can then listen to and pick the best ones for the Mixes. We have new release data delivered to us from the labels and chart data that we derive from plays and downloads. Often, we create Mixes based on current themes and moods that we are in. When people are going on holiday they ask to have their holiday tunes loaded into Mix Radio so they can take the playlist with them.
How are localised Mixes sourced?
J: We then work with our local entertainment managers who add the finishing touches and localisation to the playlists. We work very closely with our local teams to define the localisation of Mix Radio and feel this is an extremely important part of the service. We have great relationships with record labels from around the world to ensure that we have as much relevant content as possible.
What is your current favourite mix?
J: We have just launched a new daily Mixes section in the UK and it’s proving really popular. I really like the Monday morning wake up mix as it helps me to get out of bed. I have also just created a 90s Big Beat mix which I am loving.
Nick: Emerging artists is a good mix as it is compiled by a group of people with different tastes every two weeks. I’m also really enjoying the Futuristic Beats mix.
Mark: The emerging artist mix is great because of the process and collaboration behind the scenes. But the two Mixes I listen to the most are ‘Deep House’ and ‘House/Bass’. I love that a lot of the artists in there would have been considered fairly underground a year ago, artists like Disclosure and Gorgon City are now receiving a lot of mainstream and chart success. These Mixes have been gaining popularity and definitely ones to watch for new dance music.
What is the craziest mix you’ve created/had submitted?
N: Stephen Elop’s playlist was unexpected but actually became really popular. Also an employee requested a playlist for his son’s upcoming birthday. We made a playlist of pop artists that appear on kid’s movie soundtracks like Kung Fu Panda and Shrek, this was extremely popular plus his son’s party was a hit!
What new music have you discovered via Mix Radio?
N: Via the Emerging Artists group I discovered piano-led track The Fall from Rhye, which was produced by Milosh.
M: I’m mainly into Dance but love hopping into the other genres and listening to ‘Most Played’, it’s a really cool introduction to any genre.
Where do you get the ideas for new Mixes?
M: All over the place, the smallest thing can seed an idea for a mix. Decade Mixes are always great though because songs of an era can really connect with people and with a particular time in their life.
N: Also any new sounds you start to hear more of, I recently made a playlist on Trap Beats, after Baauer’s increasing popularity.
What new trends are you most looking forward to in music?
N: I am pretty intrigued by the new MySpace. If the new video holds true to what it might be doing it could be a bit of a game changer, making music more dynamic and more social.
So now you know a little more about the inner workings of Mix Radio, what is your current favourite mix?