Tuesday, April 5, 2011

SmartPhones, Music and Dancing: A Winning Combo (Part 2)

This is part 2 of a series. Check out "Part 1" if you haven't already. The previous article focused on "SoundHound," my narrow favorite music identification app for SmartPhones. This article highlights a similar but complimentary app.

Shazam
Another "must have" app for dancers and music lovers.

Dancers are always looking for great music to build their own collection. Shazam runs a close second for me compared to SoundHound (discussed in Part 1 of this series).

Shazam started the game (2002) and is probably the most recognized software for identifying music. It has over 10 million songs cataloged in its database, including music going back to the 1950s. I have thousands of tunes in my collection, but there are also thousands I purchased decades ago in album format, but never acquired again in digital formats.

When a great song is playing in a dance class, your favorite club or maybe in your friend's car, open Shazam on your phone and it "listens" for about 10 seconds, then sends to its master database and around 5 seconds later it tells you the song name, artist, album and shows you the details. In most cases, it will even show you album art from the CD or record. The process is known as "Tagging" a song in Shazam, (SoundHound calls the same thing "Identifying" or "IDing" a song).

Shazam Screens
Shazam works very well, it's amazing what it identifies.

Shazam saves your tagged songs in your "My Tags" list  and you can review details about the song later when you're at your computer. If you use your phone as your music player, you can directly purchase the tune from Amazon.com. In my case I tag songs and then when I'm at my iTunes computer, I pull up the "My Tags" list on my phone and purchase songs. I delete tags once I own the music.

People often ask me which app they should download and I always say "Both!" I started with the free versions, identified 20 or 30 tunes the first week, then paid around $5 (each) for the premium versions. It's a ONE TIME cost for the paid versions, and I've found hundreds of songs since I started using these apps.

To be clear, I personally start with SoundHound, but it doesn't get everything either, so I Shazam as soon as SoundHound can't get something. Some very recent tunes, some "mix tapes" were found by Shazam that SoundHound couldn't identify, so again, having them both is a win. Alternately, you could just pay for Shazam and use the ad supported version of SoundHound. (I think they both deserve $5, but maybe that's just me.)

As of this writing, Shazam only allows 5 tags per month with their free version. SoundHound now allows unlimited with its free version (ad supported). Download both free versions, try them on the same songs and see which works better for you. Both versions have some other bells and whistles, like sharing your favorite tunes to Facebook or sending some tags via e-mail, but I rarely use those features.

I think both developers earn their $5 so I just purchased both. They continue to build their databases and both make building your own collection so much easier. I rarely write down a song name anymore, just let Shazam or SoundHound listen and keep the details in its list.

You'll be addicted once you try them. I use my SmartPhone for more than just identifying music, so you'll see additional uses for your phone as this series continues.

Let me know your experiences with these two apps via the comments.

Related Articles and Links
SmartPhones, Music and Dancing: A Winning Combo (Part 1)
Listening to Songs 100 times or more 
Shazam Site (http://www.Shazam.com) 

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Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero