Have you ever been sitting in a bar (or standing in a lift) and heard a song you think is just great? You ask your friends what it is and they shake their heads. So you try in desperation to remember just a smattering of the lyrics…
Well struggle no more! The iPhone has a multitude of Apps that are crying out to help you and I’m going to look at three of the best contenders.
Shazam is the leader of the pack in the field of music recognition and the only one of the following Apps that has a free version. The free version only allows you to ‘tag’ five tracks a month but you can upgrade to Shazam Encore for $4.99.
Shazam has a plethora of features that go above and beyond just recognising what song is playing. Once you’ve ‘tagged’ a song Shazam shows you the details of the track and gives you the option to buy it from iTunes. Shazam Encore adds to that the extra functionality of being able to preview 30 seconds of the track and gives you a Tag chart and recommendations based on what you’ve tagged in the past.
In addition Shazam helps you learn about the music you’ve tagged by giving you access to track and album reviews, artist biographies and discographies, and song lyrics.
How Was It?
Shazam’s core functionality is good and it quickly recognises most tracks – although in situations with excessive atmospheric noise it can struggle! The ability to instantly buy any songs you like through iTunes is a good feature – although one that all these Apps share! The extra features that come with Shazam Encore do make it a great App for keeping in touch with the music around you.
That you can try a slightly stripped down version before you buy the fully featured upgrade gives you no excuse not to try it!
MusicID is another App that prides itself on fast accurate music recognition but this time with a much bigger focus on finding you the lyrics. It costs $0.99 and has functionality to rival Shazam’s so must be worth a serious look.
MusicID is able to identify music in seconds and then gives you extensive details: including artist biographies, related YouTube videos, and licensed lyrics. It is this final aspect that helps make MusicID stand out – by tapping into the largest database of lyrics available it quickly brings up accurate lyrics for any identified songs.
Building on this base functionality MusicID also features a search function for its lyric database and integrates with your iPod. You can add any of the songs from your library or even see the lyrics and details of the song currently playing!
How Was It?
MusicID’s integration with your iPod is handy and the ability to search the lyrics database is a great feature! The interface is not as pretty as Shazam or SoundHound but the feature set does compare favourably, as does the price. MusicID only costs $0.99 compared to the $4.99 you have pay for Shazam Encore and SoundHound!
If you’re always forgetting the words to your favourite song then MusicID might be the perfect App for you!
The final music identification App in our comparison is SoundHound by Melodis. It’s standout features include blazing fast music recognition and the ability to identify tunes that you sing or hum!
It must be said, the feature set on SoundHound is pretty comprehensive. Once SoundHound identifies a song it brings up an information page that includes a link to buy the song on iTunes, links to bookmark or share the song, biographies, discographies, tour dates, and of course lyrics.
SoundHound’s key selling point, however, is it’s ability to identify songs quickly and even take a guess at songs that you sing or hum yourself – ease your frustration and find that song that’s been stuck in your head!
How Was It?
Many of the features included in SoundHound are also featured in Shazam or MusicID but SoundHound scores over them on its slick interface and its ability to recognise songs that you sing or hum. It also has the ability to search for songs just by saying the artist or song name, which is a nice touch!
It’s worth noting that when trying to identify songs that you are singing or humming SoundHound is only capable of taking a good guess – the factors at play are so varied that unless you are a true virtuoso this feature will be reasonably hit and miss!
When comparing the feature set of the Apps it’s clear that they all try to take a slightly different angle. Shazam leans more towards giving you recommendations and tracking your music ‘journey’, MusicID places its core value in providing accurate lyrics, and SoundHound focuses on providing fast identification of any song you can hear or sing.
I prefer the interface design of Shazam and SoundHound to that of MusicID – Shazam’s tagging button is particularly satisfying! The ability to identify songs you sing yourself gives SoundHound the edge in terms of truly useful features, while Shazam has a free version for those of you who aren’t sure you would use the extended functionality of a paid App.
Many of the features such as providing you with lyrics, links to iTunes, biographies, discographies, and recommendations are available in various guises on all three Apps, which brings you back to what the overall purpose of a music identification App should be.
As the main function of these Apps is to identify the music around you SoundHound succeeds by having the most extensive core functionality – you finally have a way to name that tune you’ve been humming all day!