Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Most-Expensive Free App

Because I visit Starbucks regularly, I take advantage of the free iTunes downloads that they offer. Because of my addiction to coffee, I have been rewarded with free music and app downloads for my iPhone and iPad. And it's been great.

However, there is one app that I downloaded for free that has become the most expensive app that I have on my phone.

It's called SoundHound.

Before the digital age, I can remember driving in my car, shopping or working in malls, riding in elevators, or partying at bars and restaurants, listening to music, hearing a song that I liked, and being unable to identify it. The only way to learn the title of a song or learn about the band performing it would be if you were listening to the radio and caught the DJ announcing the song.

But now, knowing the song takes only a few seconds.

SoundHound, like its competitor, Shazam, is an app that uses the device's microphone to listen to a song, access a vast database to match the song and present it on screen. With SoundHound, once the song is identified, lyrics are synchronized and you can follow the words in the song. You can even play back a snippet of the song to ensure you have the right version of it.

Over the last two years with my iPhone and SoundHound, I have identified dozens of songs, both new and old. And, once identified, I can purchase the song through iTunes.

Because I love music, I have downloaded a few hundred songs. My music collection on my device has ballooned. Sometimes, not only do I buy the song I've found but the entire album. At a cost of between 99 cents and $1.29.

On many occasions, I have heard a song on the radio, identified it through SoundHound, purchased it, and have it downloaded before the song has finished on the radio.

Because I'm a fan of CBC Radio's Vinyl Tap with Randy Bachman, I get to hear lots of oldies songs, and I am filling up my iPhone to the point where I have close to 1,000 songs, of which as many as a third of my collection has been attained through this app.

This free app.

I'm not complaining. I love music and have spent lots of money over the years, buying vinyl, cassettes, CDs, and now online downloads. I imagine I'll be buying music for the rest of my life, acquiring it in whatever manner delivers it to me quickly and efficiently.

What about you? Do you have an app on your smartphone that makes you spend more money?

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