Spotify acquires Dublin music discovery start-up Soundwave

20 Jan 2016

Located above a shop in Rathmines, music discovery site Spotify's hottest acquisition is Dublin-based Soundwave. Pictured are Soundwave founders Brendan O'Driscoll, Aidan Sliney and Craig Watson

The world’s biggest music streaming site Spotify has acquired Dublin start-up Soundwave, whose technology tracks what songs people are listening to on their smartphones in real-time.

The amount Spotify paid for Soundwave has not been disclosed.

Soundwave has raised $2.9m in four investment rounds from 14 investors including ACT Venture Capital, Enterprise Ireland, Radical Investments, Spark Labs, Xandex Investments LLP, NDRC and individual investors including Iain MacDonald, Matthew Le Merle, Mike Ryan, Paddy Holohan, Per Brilioth, Mark Cuban and Trever Bowen.

Spotify has also acquired another music company called Cord Project. This has all happened on the same day that rival Deezer has raised more than $100m in funding.

Soundwave was founded in Dublin in 2012 by CEO Brendan O’Driscoll, CTO Aidan Sliney and COO Craig Watson and up until this point has been headquartered above a shop in Rathmines. The company was first written about by in 2012 when it emerged as the winner of that year’s NDRC accelerator.

Soundwave tracks the music you are listening to and shares this on your Soundwave profile – allowing you to see what your friends are listening to and start conversations about music.

Spotify, which is battling Apple Music, Google Music, Deezer and other streaming giants in what is the biggest transformation in music consumption in history, has been eyeing Dublin as a base since 2012 and the acquisition of Soundwave gives it a presence in Ireland.

Soundwave’s app, which tracks a database of more than 1.5m songs, has been downloaded over 1.5m times across 190 countries in 14 languages and has received positive reviews from its global army of users.

The app has been voted by Apple as “Best Innovation in Music” and has been permanently positioned by Google in the Android “Editor’s Choice” section.

The company has also been a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and was named by Forbes as one of 5 Companies that Made Media Consumption Smarter” in 2013.

The app has also received accolades from actor, writer and self-confessed geek Stephen Fry, as well as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who said: “Soundwave is a product that fits my life perfectly.”

The sound Dublin start-up making waves in the music business

“The attraction for Spotify is our technology helps understand what people are listening to and it can use that technology to bring user growth to the next level and focus and define a new onboarding experience,” co-founder Brendan O’Driscoll told

O’Driscoll said that very little will change at Soundwave except the company will be working on integrating its technology with Spotify and job titles and office locations will be a discussion for another day.


‘You will definitely see our fingerprints on the future Spotify roadmap’

“You will definitely see our fingerprints on the future Spotify roadmap. This is all about leading the charge, understanding the technology and harnessing it to turn it into goodwill towards the overall Spotify product.

“For us, Spotify is such a well-known brand name and we can harness the power of that to spread our technology further.”

O’Driscoll said that getting acquired wasn’t a goal for the company. “The vision was refining the music discovery experience with our own app and we have done that by reaching millions of users. It has unlocked a whole new scale of opportunity not possible before and Spotify recognised that.

“The next step is to merge our know-how and understanding with theirs. Spotify is such a great success with a huge platform of 20m users and a 30m-song catalogue.”

In terms of the streaming wars, Spotify faces pressure from the rise of Apple Music, which has now reached 10m users after just six months.

“I think everybody recognises that curation is the battleground,” said O’Driscoll. “Consumers want to find the right songs at the right time for the right person. That’s the ideology that will win.

“The addition of Soundwave’s technology to Spotify will definitely enhance and bolster discovery and search functionality.

“This acquisition will propel Spotify to the forefront of the discovery battle and, for users, transform the music journey.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years