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Music Media Technology

New Phone Service Promises to ID Songs 354

Coolnat2004 writes "Ever get a song stuck in your head, but you missed the DJ announcement of the song name? That's the idea powering a new cell phone-based service called 411-SONG. Just call 866-411-SONG, and hold your phone up to the speaker. 15 seconds later the call ends and the information on your song is displayed on your phone's screen. This comes at a price, though. 99 cents for your first 5 songs, and then 99 cents a song after that. However, reports that a subscription model may be coming soon. Wouldn't this technology be great for fixing up all those ID3 tags?"
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New Phone Service Promises to ID Songs

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  • Uh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:33PM (#12619025)
    So... now it costs as much to figure out what a song is as to buy it? No thanks.
    • Re:Uh (Score:4, Funny)

      by ag0ny ( 59629 ) <.ten.ariednaval. .ta. .ivaj.> on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:07PM (#12619288) Homepage
      So... now it costs as much to figure out what a song is as to buy it?

      How could you buy it if you knew what song it was?
      • Re:Uh (Score:5, Funny)

        by ag0ny ( 59629 ) <.ten.ariednaval. .ta. .ivaj.> on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:10PM (#12619301) Homepage

        How could you buy it if you didn't know what song it was?

        (Note to self: first coffee, then Slashdot)
        • Re:Uh (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) * on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:17PM (#12619348)
          Hmm. Most major online music "stores" out in the wild allow you to do a very cool thing called search. So if you knew even a small part of the lyrics, you should be OK. Also, most of the major online music stores are taking a hint from Amazon. They are looking at your past purchases and recommending content. IMO, Amazon, has been on-the-money. Every book that Amazon has recommended to me, has been somthing I have wanted and as such, have purchased.
          • Re:Uh (Score:4, Funny)

            by QuaZar666 ( 164830 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:18PM (#12619713)
            Thats better than the books that I get recommended. thinks I'm a lesbian and recommends oral sex books.
          • Re:Uh (Score:3, Funny)

            by dukeisgod ( 739214 )
            Amazon couldn't be further off the mark for it's suggestions to me. I've bought some school books on amazon before, and it constantly recommends similar books. They must think I read that shit for my health.
          • Re:Uh (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ( 583400 )
            So if you knew even a small part of the lyrics, you should be OK

            This service works also if the music has no lyrics.

            Most major online music "stores" out in the wild [...]

            Thanks to this service you don't have to be online to get the title of a song. So it should work instantly everywhere you hear music: in a night club, in a "old world" music store, in a train station or with your TV.
        • This service exists since 2001 in France, branded under the name of "Yacast"> ("service de pige musicale"). You can get a sms with the complete disc references, a ringtone, or sms news about the band.

          Why does Slashdot put this kind of retro newsfor USA but is rejecting geek news from Europe ? (ECS 50th Eurovision)
          • by commanderfoxtrot ( 115784 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @05:23AM (#12621561) Homepage
            This sounds rather like MusicBrainz [] software.

            Yes, this sort of service has been around in the UK and France for several years now.

            • MusiBrainz, indeed (Score:4, Informative)

              by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:16AM (#12623079)
              MusicBrainz did a good job for me. I imported all my mp3s into iTunes on my new PowerBook, and then used iEatBrainz (a MusicBrainz front-end that interfaces directly to iTunes to find songs to tag and to tag them in place) to put tags on just over 1,100 untagged mp3s. It missed only about 90 of them, including both incorrect tags and failure to find a tag at all.

              MusicBrainz needs better moderation - some inconsistencies did arise (such as capitalization; e.g., "acoustic" vs. "Acoustic" and the capitalization of short words and articles in song titles - "A Day In The Life" vs. "A Day in the Life" and other versions) - but overall it did a fine job. It even corrected me as to certain artists' names.
    • I agree. How many people are going to be willing to pay $1.00 USD to find out just the name of a song? This looks like a "company" that just wants to spend some venture capital. I would like to know what venture firm invested in this crap. I have some great land opportunities in the Florida Everglades (Disclosure: I live in Orlando). The Everglades are becoming "the" place to live in Florida. If you have some venture capital to spend, please contact me at for further details.
    • Re:Uh (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rluberti ( 631456 )
      for me is already crazy to see people pay for ring tones.....same people will probably use that service... I guess after knowing the music name...the same service will try to seel you the ring tone...
  • by dan_polt ( 692266 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:33PM (#12619027)
    This type of service been available in the uk for a few years now with shazam [], it works reasonably well for currently popular songs, fairs a bit oddly with some older stuff though.

    I have actually used it for mp3 tagging too :)
  • Old news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:34PM (#12619032)
    There have been services like this around for years. When I got a new cell phone a few months ago it came with advertising for just such a service, and I had heard about such services ages before that.
  • by FLAGGR ( 800770 )
    Wouldn't this technology be great for fixing up all those ID3 tags?"

    Not at .99$ a pop. I'm surprised google hasn't done something like this, though.
  • by Paul Lamere ( 21149 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:34PM (#12619035) Homepage Journal
    Wouldn't this technology be great for fixing up all those ID3 tags? MusicBrainz []
    • Am I the only one that doesn't have good luck with MusicBrainz? I've tried it many times and it rarely gets it right. Maybe it only works with really common stuff, but my tastes aren't too off the wall.

      I've seen people asking for bulk retagging using MusicBrainz for my favorite music player, but boyhowdy, if I sent my collection through it, I'd never be able to find anything again. =]

      In short... if this service is anything like MusicBrainz I hope they offer refunds.
    • I used MoodLogic [], and it was really good. Only thing is, you either have to pay for using it, or gain "points" by helping create "profiles" for music you have. But it works really, really well.
  • Well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pHatidic ( 163975 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:34PM (#12619038)
    Wouldn't this technology be great for fixing up all those ID3 tags?

    Well with google you can already do this for free. However, the catch is that you need good enough pitch to know what the notes are. But if you can get them (or close enough), then you can type them in to get the song.

    • Re:Well (Score:4, Informative)

      by eddeye ( 85134 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:48PM (#12619877)

      Wouldn't this technology be great for fixing up all those ID3 tags?

      Well with google you can already do this for free.

      I'll do you one better: musicbrainz [] recognizes songs by music fingerprint. The API is rough around the edges but it works pretty well. I cobbled together a python script to tag my 1300 mp3s and it identified all but a handful correctly. I'll throw a copy up on this page [] later for anyone who's interested.

      • I'll throw a copy up on this page [] later for anyone who's interested.

        Please do! It'll probably save me lots of time trying to write a decent tagger from scratch.

  • by Logic Bomb ( 122875 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:35PM (#12619043)
    AT&T Wireless did this a year ago. See [] for a typical summary
  • Old Hat (Score:3, Informative)

    by civman2 ( 773494 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:35PM (#12619046) Homepage
    I believe that ATT Wireless has been offering a service like this for over a year []. The only difference is that their service is only a three digit number and you don't need to pay out of the nose for it.

    "The new "#ID" music service is provided by San Francisco-based Musicphone in cooperation UK-based Shazam Entertainment, which operates a propriety recognition database of more than one million recorded songs. AT&T Wireless customers can trial the music recognition service at no charge beyond standard airtime charges when they first dial "#ID." Afterwards, the service costs $.99 cents, plus standard airtime charges, each time they use it."

    unless this is a year old news story...
    • The only difference is that their [AT&T's] service is only a three digit number and you don't need to pay out of the nose for it.

      AT&T's more expensive, not less. The service in TFA is $0.99 for the first 5 uses (~20 cents each), then $0.99 per use afterward (same price as AT&T's).
  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:36PM (#12619055) Homepage Journal
    Think of the *insertevilnesslevelhere* possibities.

    They know your phone #, they know what song you are listening to, the probably know what radio station is playing the song, and they can find out your address and probably your name.

    If they don't have a good privacy policy, I won't be using their service.
  • AT&T Wireless has had its own version of this for a while now, #ID. []. Looks like this offering is from MusiKube as mentioned in the linked article.

    Note that from a PC you could always use [] if you're trying to fix those ID3 tags.


  • XM Radio (Score:5, Insightful)

    by taped2thedesk ( 614051 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:37PM (#12619063)
    For $13 a month, I'll just stick to XM Radio... it shows me the title and artist of the song I'm listening to. It can even record that info so that I can go back to it later and buy the song or album when I get home. Sure, it won't identify arbitrary music (just the song currently playing on the tuned station), but it seems like the only time I try to figure out the name of a song is when I'm listening to it on the radio.
  • The RIAA will send you a writ of suit asking $30,000 for violating their copyright.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:39PM (#12619082)
    I am waiting for the service that allows you to hold your camera phone up to your computer screen and it tells you if the slashdot article is a dupe. (which this one is)
    • I am waiting for the service that allows you to hold your camera phone up to your computer screen and it tells you if the slashdot article is a dupe. (which this one is)

      Or, if it's a slashvertisement. (which this one is)
  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:40PM (#12619087)
    While a service like this is truly incredible, as people from the UK (who have had it for a few years) have pointed out, these services usually only work on "popular" songs. Songs that probably get played twenty times a day on U.S. top-40 radio, with oppertunities to find out the name quite often.

    The branches of music this would be most useful for (Indie Rock, Electronic, Jazz and Classical) are unfortunately the ones the system will rarely recognize.
  • cheap solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jeffy124 ( 453342 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:40PM (#12619088) Homepage Journal
    easy and free: figure out a few words in sequence, enter them into google using quotes, add the word lyrics outside teh quotes, and you can usually get the full song info quite easily.

    if the song is stuck in your head, lyrics should be little trouble
  • Up here in Canada, both Rogers Wireless and Fido have been offering #DJ (#35) from your cell phone to look up songs. It will text message you the song, and also allow ringtone downloads if they are found.
  • nothing more.

    Also, I didn't see where the cost was free if it mis-identified your song, or how to request a refund, for that matter.
  • Huh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Teja ( 826685 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:41PM (#12619103) Journal
    I know this may sound redundant but wouldn't it be much easier to just GOOGLE the lyrics of the song and wait for results? While you may not always be near a computer with internet access (well with more and more cell phones offering internet access, it is much easier) that maybe the time where that service come useful for one.
    • I know this may sound redundant but wouldn't it be much easier to just GOOGLE the lyrics of the song and wait for results?

      That's great if your songs have lyrics. But what about instrumental pieces? I listen to a lot of celtic, swedish, old-timey, etc. fiddle tunes which do not have those handy indentifiers.

    • How do you "Google" for songs with no lyrics?

      But you can always try... Like one guy who asked on the forum: what is the name of that French song with accordeon which goes, "Tur-lu-tu-tu-tu"?

      (A: In Grid - Tu es foutu :))
    • Remembered I was travelling once and heard a great classical piece on NPR. I would have died to know what the title was and it is forever lost to my imagination. Would have been great to source it, as the announcer just cavalierly skipped introducing the title.

      This service is just great for those one time uses.

  • It would've been more appropriate for them to buy 8675309...

    Stewie: Ok now home number... oh yes. 8675309.. *ring ring* Wait that's not it. DAMN YOU TOMMY TWO TONE!
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) <> on Monday May 23, 2005 @08:47PM (#12619144) Journal

    A couple of things: (I actually had been thinking about this service the other day -- I had seen it demo'ed on TV quite a while ago. I thought it was interesting and had just been wondering what had happened to the concept. I never missed it, just thought it was interesting, for a couple of reasons:

    • I tried to think how many times I've encountered just that need to identify a song -- turns out, at least for me, not that many. I do have a good ear and memory for music, but I can only think of once or twice in my life where I really felt the NEED to have this kind of service. I wouldn't pay anything for it regardless.
    • Do we really need yet another distraction from driving? While I can sympathize with most cellphone users it becomes almost (almost!) a necessary evil to occasionally talk on a cellphone while driving (though I do think it a bit over used and abused and probably has contributed to an accident or two), I cringe at the thought of people fumbling for their phone not only to dial up and "use" this service, but to do it under the auspices of a deadline, i.e., before the song ends on the radio. I think this just asks for trouble!
    • How accurate can this really be? The demo I saw was impressive, but for the songs I need ID'ed, they are much more obscure and the stats and performance of the demo I saw (let me emphasize I'm not totally positive it was one and the same as referenced here, but how many of these can there be?) the accuracy was good for most, but fell a bit for the less mainstream stuff -- which is the stuff I need ID's for.
    • How good is it for: Jazz; Classical; ID'ing specific rendition of a song (cover vs. original recording)?

    Bottom line for me -- I don't need it.... Sometimes I feel like we're turning into a world that's a microwave oven with 100 power level settings! And just how many power level settings do we really need to live healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives?

    • It's not about what we need. It's about what people will buy.
      If the bottom line is that you don't need it, then don't use it. I can never understand people complaining about technology they think is useless. Exactly what impact does it have on your life if they make a microwave with 100 power levels?

      I'll tell you, NONE. But for the dude around the corner, it's what he's been looking for, and more importantly, what he'll shell out a couple bills for.

      Concerning the song identification, I think it's prett
  • Apparently "ear worms" [] is the scientific term for a musical cognitive itch. An ear worm comes from knowing a little bit of a song, causing your brain to demand to know the rest.

    There are two known ways to get rid of them:

    1. Google the lyrics, buy or download the tune, and learn the whole song well enough for your brain to be satisfied.
    2. (My personal favorite is to) sing or hum just enough of the song to give them to someone else.
  • How the hell can I get funding for my dumnbass ideas???

    "idea powering"?
    this idea couldn't power a mouse to lick his ass.

    The idjits obviously never bother to listen to the radio. The DJ doesn't say, "and now feast your ears on this latest from Captain Beefheart"
    No, he waits until the end of play or maybe a few plays and then announces, "you've just heard Blind Willy McFee singing 'Short Irish Girl Blues'. which was preceeded by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing that old favorite 'Trigger Braunsweiger, It B
  • Gee... they could have made a game show of that.
    Oh... wait...
  • I believe that they are using some type of sound recognition system.

    An alternative approach would be to have your central server tuned in on all the radio stations.

    And then when a caller calls in all the server has to do is find the channel that matches the song that comes through the phone. That can probably be done with very good precision.

    I'm not sure, but I believe that most radio stations have lists of all the songs they play and when they played it. So then you can find the song.

    Some radio station
  • While I'm inclined to believe it will probably work just as well as the image recognition [] software posted a few weeks ago (i.e., not very well), if they're getting you to pay for it (and as much as a song on iTunes, no less!) then they're obviously confident!

    I wonder if you get your money back if it can't identify the song, or if it identifies it incorrectly? I can see it being a bit of a minefield for customer satisfaction unless they really do have a top class product...

  • The song title is "Sexual", by a band called "Goddess".

    I've never found the lyrics for it. All I can find is GnR's "Buick Mackane", neopagan/tantra/whatever stuff, and pr0n.
    • The song title is "Sexual", by a band called "Goddess".

      I'm replying, because I know how annoying this can be. I checked 10 of the top lyric search engines, and the song just doesn't exist (at least to them).

      This [] is the only information I found on that song.

      Good luck!

  • Just and idea... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by krin ( 519611 )
    Instead of paying a buck to figure out the name of the song you just heard on the radio.. you could try calling the station and asking. I have called a local station a few times in the past and they've been more then happy to tell me the name of a song they just played.

    You could try their website as well, a lot of stations are putting their playlists up on their sites now; as long as you have a good idea of when the song was played it should not be to hard to figure it out.

    And of course as others have men
  • Suddenly it's news. Huh. Too bad it wasn't accepted then.

    Slow news day? :]
  • Is this using the same technology that is supposed to ID a song 'out on the net' and autogenerate a take down letter/suit?
  • Does anyone else remember the episode of 'Married with Children' where Al gets a song stuck in his head? I was thinking that this would be useful for that. I tried the google trick, but I couldn't remember the lyrics, either.
  • AT&T Wireless (now Cingular)has offered this since April of last year [].

  • This might be a long shot. But can anyone help me find the name for this song. It goes something like this:

    Nana... Nana... Hmmm Hmm boom boom ne na na na chi chi chi kapow.

    And then the chorus:

    Na ne no na na na na oooooh ooooh bidi bidi badaaang.

    Please let me know.
  • Not at all new. Fido (aka Microcell) [] now part of the Rogers family [] launched '#DJ' service last year around this time.
  • Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Like Sure pet stuff by mail seems like a good idea but are people really going to go for it? Will people REALLY pay for shipping on a 25 lbs bag of food? Does it fill THAT much of a void? Probably not.
  • Well.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by servoled ( 174239 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:12PM (#12619681)
    I just tried it with a song which I have been trying to figure out off and on for awhile. 411-song failed on two attempts, which I suppose isn't too suprising. On the bright side they claim that I won't be charged since they didn't identify the song.

    Moodlogic as suggested by other people seems to want me to identify the artist and song title before it will tell me the artist and song title which seems about as worthless as anything.

    If anyone wants to take a crack at it, it is the second song played in this rm file: Glen Jones Radio Programme April 3, 2005 []
  • Hasn't Sprint PCS offered this service as part of their 'Vision' package for like a year now? At no extra cost?
  • I don't mean this as a troll, but in my area there is a serious dearth of anything resembling decent radio programming (according to my tastes, of course). Bubblegum pop, boot-scootin' country, and rehashed rock dominate the dial. I've given up on terrestrial radio a long time ago, and now I learn about and listen to music primarily through other means.

    Maybe this has already been done as a poll, but I wonder how many geeks get their music through FM radio these days.

  • If I hear a long-forgotten, once-loved song from the eighties and can't remember who sung it or what the hell it was called, I just listen carefully and scribble down a unique sounding line from the song. Hit google with 'lyrics "some line from the song"' and there you have it. You have to filter out the cheesy 90's remake versions, of course :-) And it's hell with instrumentals and those 'sounds like' guessing games.

    For some reason they rarely announce title & artist on my local stations these days.
  • So do I pay 99 cents even if it gets it wrong? Sounds like a pretty sweet deal. I should start up a competing service myself. Of course, people might start getting suspicious when every song seems to be limited to whatever I've got currently loaded on my iPod...thank goodness for shuffle mode!
  • by Trogre ( 513942 )
    Didn't that go out with MP3?

  • Yet another example of the way feature bloat infects everything in technology.

    <sarcasm>Gosh, too bad there wasn't some search engine out there where you could type a line of lyrics and find info about the song that way.</sarcasm>

  • Fido, I know, at least is #DJ. Can't remember the rest. Rogers has it with their MuchMusic phone package. I think it was standard text messaging rates for a while too.
  • About four years ago a friend's dad pitched a group of us with this idea to guage reactions of the target demographic. We all said, "God No!" and told him that a really usefull technology would simply be a car radio that knew what each song was and could download/purchase any song you heard with the click of a button.

    Because of our reactions he passed, but obviously someone took a bite.

    Honestly it still sounds like a dumb idea to me, but maybe there are enough people out there who can't remember the lyric
  • by Jabes ( 238775 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @04:56AM (#12621489) Homepage
    Shazam in the UK has done this for years. You just dial 2580 from any mobile and get the id sent to you as a text message.

    There's even a web site with an faq: []

    Have fun music lovers!

  • Not new (Score:3, Informative)

    by srleffler ( 721400 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @08:44AM (#12622274)
    Virgin Mobile has had this feature on their cell phones for some time.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle