[Accelerator Interview] AI-Based Music Search and Recommendation Service, ‘Neutune’


1. Overview of Neutune

Neutune is a company established to provide new experiences and solutions related to music and audio in our rapidly changing media ecosystem. Our solutions provide music searching, music sharing and music recommendations for different media. Music is media content consumed through different situations and platforms and, it is a crucial element of everyday life, whether for the new media and IT industries, for urban development and for spatial and UX design. Using AI, Neutune develops innovative music search engines that can take into account of different contexts and solutions that can provide different musical consumption experiences to users. 

We have the world’s best music search technology. Current music search technologies can either,

1) Allow you to search for or find songs if you know the name of the artists or title of the songs or,

2) Find the song that’s being played.

But to us, the act of ‘searching for music’ goes beyond just finding songs that we know the title of or the artists of. It also includes finding songs similar to specific songs we know or finding songs even when we don’t know for sure what we want. For instance, think about searching for something on Google. We search for things we aren’t sure about using some keywords or search for specific images using similar images.

Our solution expands this scope of the act of searching for music and allows the users to search for music using keywords or find songs similar to specific songs they already know.

In addition to music search technology, we also have advanced technologies for recommending music based on context, visualizing musical information, automatic music arrangement and auto mixing. And we are primarily focused on using these modular technologies to provide various musical and audio experiences to the users.

We are currently carrying out two key projects – enhacing in-vehicle musical experience and providing a background music search service.

1) To enhance in-vehicle musical experience, we are currently working with Hyundai Motor Group’s UX team through ZER01NE Accelerator project. We are trying to develop a function that selects a list of songs based on the preferences of the driver and passengers and a function that selects a list of songs based on the driving route. Normally, the music being played in a car is consumed by everyone who’s in the car but the playlist only reflects the driver’s musical preference. To enhance the musical experience, we are trying to develop a function that combines the preferences of the driver and passengers. Also, a function integrated with the navigator and that automatically selects music based on the route will be very useful to many users. We’re trying to develop a function that selects music based on the route, weather and various other contextual information.

2) Youtubers cannot monetize their videos when they use copyrighted or claimed music registered on Melon or other online music stores and music streaming services. So they have to purchase background music from background music services. But searching for background music on these services is so inconvenient that youtubers often have to spend a lot of time to find the perfect background music for their videos. To solve this problem, we are currently in the process of developing a background music search platform called Pointune which enables the users to quickly and conveniently search for background music they want.

2. Company Background

We want to expand music as content and also expand musical experience. Music is media content consumed through different situations and platforms and, it is a crucial element of everyday life, whether for the new media and IT industries, for urban development and for spatial and UX design. For many people, consuming the right music in the right situation is very important and to expand musical experience in different situations, we have to expand music as content.

First, to expand musical experience in different situations, we have to track musical copyrights like patents. For example, a lot of background music, music played in stores, copyrighted derivative works are difficult to track and use. Also, many samples and tracks used as muscial sources are not well tracked even through they can be cross referenced and licensed. We want to contribute to making a musical ecosystem where musical content is well licensed and easily tracked.

Also, the conventional definitions of musical sounds are unnecessarily ambiguous and limited. We usually say musical sounds are “clearly recorded instrumental sounds” or “vocal musical sounds” but we can also include sounds we hear in our everyday lives and natural sounds like bird sounds to expand music and our musical experience. We want to use these sounds to allow our users to have the right musical experience in different situations.   

And to expand music as content and musical experience, Neutune will uses its technologies for 1) Music search, 2) context-based music recommendations, 3) visualization of musical information, 4) auto musical arrangement and 5) auto mixing. We will use these technologies as best as we can to make more musical content widely accessible to the public.

3. Neutune’s Strengths and Differentiating Factors.

First of all, we can proudly say we have the world’s best music search technology. Our team members all have a high level of musical understanding. We are all experts in our own field and having worked together in KAIST Music and Audio Computing Lab, we know each other well and we trust each other. Our team is also comprised of researchers, developers, designers, media artists and composers so we can commericialize ideas better than any other team. We’ve also published more than 30 papers in relevant journals and academic forums including the International Society for Music Information Retrieval (ISMIR) which is the world’s most renowned academic forum for musical technologies. We’ve presented our tutoriols two years in a row in 2019 and 2020 at this forum as well. We are currently trying to develop a next-generation music search engine and we’ve received seed investments from Kakao Ventures and Shinhan Capital in November, 2020.

4. Most Memorable Moment?

We had a lot of ups and downs but we just enjoy the fact that we are good people working towards a common goal.

5. Business Accomplishments

It’s only been 7 months since we’ve started the company so we are expecting to see actual results starting next year. You can refer to our response for question no.3 for our technological accomplishments and our current progress.

6. What Inspires You While Running a Business?

Media art that combines sound art (music), mathematics (technologies) and visual art (design). They seem unrelated at first but funamentally they are very closely related to each other and by combining them, we can expand our imagination for content and technologies for the future.

7. What Are Your Business Plans and Vision for the Future and Your Thoughts on ZER01NE?

We think of ourselves as creators and we want to incorporate various AI technologies of Neutune to express our musical imaginations and commercialize them.

ZER01NE is an open innovation platform for creators like us and it’s the perfect ecosystem that matches our values.

We want to be a company that leads a culture of arts centered around music.