SoundHound (formerly midomi): Breaking Up Bar Fights Since 2007

What’s that song?  The question has plagued humans ever since the creation of music, and has led to countless heated discussions – and probably worse.

One Silicon Valley startup, Melodis Corporation, is doing something about it.

Melodis this week announced the introduction of a new iPhone app, SoundHound, which includes the world’s fastest music identification – virtually guaranteed to break up bar fights.  The new app also includes lyrics, complete iPod integration, and an exclusive “Underplayed” chart that has generated major buzz.  SoundHound is the new name for the 3.0 upgrade to Midomi for iPhone, and existing users will receive the app free of charge.

We recently caught up with Aaron Master, Product Manager at Melodis, to talk more about this awesome application and the convergence of music and technology.

SVR: Tell us more about SoundHound. What sets it apart from other music identification apps?

AM: We have just released version 3.0 of our iPhone app, which used to be called Midomi.  It has so many new features we’re changing the name to SoundHound.  The first thing that sets us apart from our leading competitor is that we are the fastest in the industry – literally three times faster.  As many of our early adopter fans know, the app can even recognize singing or humming in addition to identifying what is playing on the radio or tv.  And the new SoundHound version can even identify songs from your iPod where you’re missing the title or artist.  It solves that annoying problem of having songs in your iPod library without artists or titles. And of course, because SoundHound is an app for true music lovers, we strive to have the most complete database in the world, with the latest hits, hottest remixes and broadest coverage, even including popular classical pieces.

SVR: We understand you’re getting ready to introduce a new product release. Can you tell us about that?

AM: Actually, things went really well and we just released SoundHound on December 2, over three weeks ahead of our Christmas day target.  The response has been incredible.  Our average for the first 82 reviews was literally 5 out of 5 stars.  I’ve never seen anything like it in the App store.  I think it’s because we really listened to the feedback from previous versions and acted on it.  People told us they wanted lyrics and we provide it like crazy: we now offer beautifully displayed lyrics for most songs, including songs on your iPod.  People also wanted to be able to play iPod songs they found in the app; now you can do that and a whole lot more.  You can check out SoundHound info for any song on your iPod.  You just play a song then open SoundHound and SoundHound shows you the artist bio, track listing, and top songs.  It also has the world’s first online and iPod combined music search.  So when your search result includes a song in your iPod, SoundHound shows an icon right there telling you that you have the iPod song and letting you play your copy.  It’s a great way to see which of an artist’s top songs you already have and which you don’t.  The underplayed list has been a runaway hit too.  People love this. It’s a list of songs getting grabbed much more by users than they are played on the radio.  It has about 50 songs on it and you can see what songs will become classics or are on their way to becoming new hits.

SVR: Do you think music and technology are a natural fit? How many of the tech professionals at Melodis are also musicians?

AM: You’ve probably heard about all those studies linking musical talent with technical talent.  Our company is something of a case study.  We have a speech engineer who is a gifted concert pianist; a business development person who writes his own compositions; a research engineer who has performed as a saxophone soloist with a major American symphony orchestra; and a vice president who has jammed with members of the Grateful Dead.   And a good half of the office has music going on through headphones at any given time.  All this music love affects our products in a good way.  There are tons of little details to get right in the user experience for music lovers, and having people that are passionate about music in the office makes a huge difference.

SVR: How is Melodis empowering the next generation of rockers?

AM: Once upon a time, music discovery was quite difficult, even for young people with lots of connections.  It could take you hours or days to find out about new bands, similar artists, or lyrics to songs.  Music identification has opened that up in the past few years to instantly get people info about songs they fall in love with.  That kind of discovery can really broaden a young musician’s horizons.  With our latest app, we pretty much blow away the limits that were still there: now you can see the exact lyrics to a song, which really opens up your understanding of an artist’s message.  And when you see all the top songs that artist ever made and all the similar artists, and have previews and visual popularity data for it while on the go, that lets you explore and fall in love with music like never before.  In the past few months alone, I’ve (re)discovered Massive Attack, Sneaker Pimps, MadCon, and Bitter:Sweet just through the app.  But I’m already out of school.  It’s amazing to me to think of what a music genius a middle schooler could become by the age of twenty, just using something like this.  So I think the next generation of rockers will be connected to music information like no other generation before.  We feel very lucky to be such a big part of the current revolution in mobile music search.

You could argue that what we do here is a kind of entertaining music education, so everyone here at Melodis is really excited to be part of Silicon Valley Rocks! We look forward to seeing fellow rockers there.