Contact: Naming That Tune

  • by April 25, 2005
What's the name of that song? You know the one. It starts out like "My baby, something-something," and then there's a part about shaking it like a Polaroid picture? What's it called?

If you're hip, you probably never have conversations like that one. For the rest of us, there's music recognition technology, so your cell phone can stand in for your missing knowledge of modern music.

One provider of such technology is YellowPepper. If you're out and about, and the dj starts playing a song that gets your toe tapping, but you have no idea who plays it or what it's called, you can dial up YellowPepper's music recognition number  416-548-9247  and hold your cell toward the music.

YellowPepper's service then creates a digital fingerprint of the song and compares it to every song in its database of 2.3 million titles. A text message indicates the song title and the artist who performed it. Then you get to buy stuff; if there's a ringtone on file for that song, you can download it, and if there's a wallpaper of the band or artists, you can download that too.

YellowPepper plans to make deals to sell more items through this service. According to Carol Erickson, chief technology officer, once YellowPepper is able to improve digital rights management technology, it will be able to sell mp3 files of the songs through the service as well.

One drawback is the price tag  the service costs $1.99 per use, which is far more than the cost of flagging down the bartender and asking the name of the song that's blasting on the sound system. Plus, the system can take as long as 30 seconds to get as much of the song as it needs to make a match. Standing around pointing your phone at a stereo system for 30 seconds is probably even more unhip than displaying one's musical ignorance.

So, for a couple of bucks per month, you could never again have to worry about not being able to figure out that the Polaroid picture song is actually called "Hey-Ya," by Outkast. But you already knew that, right? M Shankar Gupta

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