Exabre, parent company of the U.K. based music discovery and recommendation service The Filter has closed a $5m investment round from Eden Ventures and music icon, Peter Gabriel via his company The Real World Group.
The Filter provides a content-recommendation software product that (once installed) indexes a user’s music library and recommends related titles that may be of interest. In concept, though not necessarily method of recommendation, it’s similar to Pandora and Last.fm (which was acquired by CBS).
The Filter currently works on both computers (Mac and PC) as well as on Nokia mobile phones. The funding is intended for further development and expansion of the service from music to other forms of digital content including video.
Though questions about consumer acceptance and business models remain unanswered, the marketplace for these kinds of content discovery tools is becoming increasingly attractive. Every day pools of media grow deeper exponentially. As the pools get larger it becomes harder to navigate the breadth of what’s available. We, as consumers, can be overwhelmed with too much choice; or worse, not even be aware of some of the choices we had. Recommendation Services hope to be part of a solution for that.
Fueling the growth of these new services is the fact that the primary discovery tool of the Internet – search – is by itself, insufficient for certain things. For starters, when it comes to timeliness, search engines are in a constant battle to keep up with the breadth and scope of material. The search engine’s abilities are also limited both by the keyword nature of their indexes (wrong keywords equal wrong results) as well as the hierarchal nature of their rankings. That means, if you try to find something obscure, it could easily be buried below twenty pages of more popular search results unless you had enough information to narrow the field.
The old metaphor of “a needle in the haystack” comes to mind. Finding that needle is difficult, but so long as you know what you’re looking for it’s not impossible. A magnet, for example, might get results. On the other hand, if you don’t know whether the needle is magnetic or plastic – the magnet may be a wasted effort.
When it comes to the Internet and media content: search engines are like the magnet. They’re pretty good if you know what you’re looking for and you’re sure it’s out there. But if you’re not sure on either question? That’s where recommendation services and discovery agents try to address the customer’s pains.
The new investment in Exabre was a second round. The company previously received a $1.8m investment from the same investors along with capital from the company’s founders.
[On Peter Gabriel: though Peter Gabriel is known for his musical career, he has been an active participant and investor in music industry technology through his entity The Real World Group. Among his ventures, he was a founder of On Demand Distribution (OD2) which is now owned by Nokia, and was an early music downloading service]