The music industry isn’t exactly known for being easy to get along with when it comes to the app developer community. That’s why a new deal announced today between music group EMI Music and ‘music intelligence’ startup The Echo Nest is particularly intriguing.

The tie-up sees The Echo Nest host and manage a ‘sandbox’ for app developers. Through this portal, EMI Music will offer creative briefs and opportunities to collaborate on building apps for artists such as Gorillaz, The Pet Shop Boys and Tinie Tempah.

Once developers have successfully registered for an API key, they’re able to submit app concepts to EMI and The Echo Nest. Apps that are approved will then be released by EMI under a revenue sharing model that sees both developers and rightsholders paid, and the intellectual property for the technology retained by the developer. Both free-with-ads, and paid-for apps will be considered, across platforms such as the Web, iOS and Android.

The initiative provides access to music from the famous Blue Note Records jazz label, and a catalog of thousands of songs from acts such as Culture Club, Shirley Bassey and The Verve. Developers will be able to make use of The Echo Nest’s vast database of information about songs, from simple things like tempo and genre, to complex data about the ‘mood’ of songs. There’s also access to dynamic playlist APIs, open source audio fingerprinting, audio analysis, and remix software.

Making it easier for developers to build music apps

Today’s news follows a survey of 10,000 developers which was carried out by The Echo Nest. This found that music licensing difficulties were the top problem they faced when incorporating music into apps.

Today’s initiative will certainly provide a streamlined way of working with big-name songs and turning music-based ideas into a reality. However, until all major labels (and indies too) offer ways for developers access rights this easily, for apps that incorporate music from multiple labels, developers will continue to be frustrated by the music industry. This is most definitely a step in the right direction though.

For more information about The Echo Nest’s OpenEMI sandbox, visit developer.echonest.com.