There’s a new kid on the block in the area of music identification, and this one promises to identify a song even if you sing off-key.
The application comes from Melodis, which yesterday introduced midomi (think doe ray me) mobile for the Apple iPhone. The application allows users to find their favorite songs and artists by singing, humming, speaking, typing or playing original music sources into their iPhones.
It includes some attributes of music ID services that you may have heard of previously, like Verizon Wireless’ V CAST Song ID service, where you hold the phone in front of a radio and it searches for the song. But Melodis believes it is the only company that offers this multitude of search formats, and it wants to offer the best of each, said Keyvan Mohajer, president and CEO of Melodis.
It all started in a Stanford University dorm room in 2004, when four classmates got together. The four of them worked in stealth mode with 20 computers in the small room. They wanted to come up with pretty much every possible way to search for music and make it easy for end-users, Mohajer said. So they did – and if you’re texting, you don’t even need to know the correct spelling.
Once you find the song, one click takes you to the iTunes store, or you can browse YouTube videos. You can see artists’ bios and discover new artists or meet up with fan communities – “it goes on and on” beyond the search feature, he said.
Naturally, it was challenging coming up with software whose accuracy depends on someone remembering the correct lyrics or singing with the right pitch, but the company figured out how to build a system that will “look” at many things in a person’s voice and come up with the most accurate answer it can find. If a song is hummed, it will listen to the melody, but if a person sings with lyrics, it has more to look at and will be more accurate. It also understands different languages.
Last year, the company launched a site that asked for user-generated content, so it was able to build up a database of songs. Users can submit a recording, share it with friends, collect ratings and get feedback from other users. There, it is combining social networking, “American Idol”-type ratings and a Wikipedia-type aspect of a user-generated database, he said.
The application is free for iPhone users. Melodis gets some revenue when it sends people to the iTunes store and consumers make a purchase. In the future, the company may add mobile advertising to gain revenues. “It’s completely free on the iPhone,” he said. “Right now, we are focusing on having a lot of happy users.”