Picture this: an awesome song from a cellphone commercial has been stuck in your head all day. You want to look it up on YouTube so you can hear the full song, but you don’t know the song’s title.
SoundHound is an app for iOS, Android and Nokia phones that helps you identify these songs. Simply hold your phone’s microphone near the music source and let the app collect a 20-second sample.
After processing your sample, it will show you the best match it could find with the title and artist, the album cover, a song preview and sometimes even lyrics.
While SoundHound has been around for a while, its biggest drawback was that the basic version could only identify a certain amount of songs per month. This week they announced that they were dropping the song identification limit, presumably because they can earn more revenue by going ad-supported and making money from iTunes partner links than by charging people for the service.
SoundHound’s song identification powers are not limited to Top 40 music. I’ve tried it out on a bunch of radio stations (both FM and online) that play oldies, independent Canadian music, classical and ambient. All of them did better than expected.