07. 14. 2005
411-SONG - name that tune
I've seen a million versions of song identifying tools, like the little doomed Sony emarker, but they almost never work. If they did, Brian wouldn't call me every week, humming the chorus of some song he'd heard 15 seconds of on the radio. I always think I'm good because of all the years I've spent working in music stores and labels (hey I almost wrote record stores, but that probably makes me sound about 99 years old) but my correct guess rate is probably about 50%. Alright, probably more like 20%.
411-SONG is the latest service, and it's the easiest one to use, and the most accurate (not really saying much, granted) I've ever tried. When you hear a song you don't know, you quickly call 866-411-SONG (7664) and you're prompted to put the phone up to the speaker so their computer can attempt to identify it. The call will automatically hang up after a 15-second clip is recorded. If they can name the song, you get a text message with the artist and title and a link to download/purchase the CD or the ringtone. 411-SONG will also suggest other songs you might want to buy. If they can name it, you're charged $.99 (directly to your phone bill) but the next four songs are free. You're not charged if they can't figure it out. The database currently includes 2.5 million songs.
First time I tried it my cell signal died and even before I could re-dial I got a sad little SMS telling me I'd hung up on them, and wouldn't I please like to try again? Obviously there are lots of factors involved, like the clarity and the volume of the clip you're trying to identify. So far, 411-SONG failed to identify very clear and loud tracks by the Doves, Pulp, and Stephen Malkmus. Each time, a full two minutes or so passed before I'd get a reluctantly concessive message informing me that my song was not found. When I played Coldplay's "Speed of Sound", I got a text right away with links for downloading the ringtone. Other songs on heavy radio rotation like "Feel Good" by the Gorillaz were also easily identified. So... I'm not sure how useful this is if your tastes run more towards the alternative or obscure but you probably wouldn't want a Rufus Wainright ringtone anyway.