Finally after weeks of bug fixes, Rhapsody has launched its answer to Shazam and Soundhound, called SongMatch for U.S. users. Except unlike the competitors, Rhapsody SongMatch guarantees that it treats its users better.
Shazam is arguably the most recognizable song matching service. It started out as a music discovery tool to tag the artist to a track playing that you either can’t remember or don’t know at all. But music playback is limited to 30 second excerpts. With the way Shazam works, it encourages users to make purchases for the full track through iTunes instead (though you can play them back via YouTube video).
Rhapsody is solving this pain point with SongMatch. SongMatch users, granted that they’ve subscribed to Rhapsody and own an Android phone, can tag the songs playing in the background, find new music by the same artist, find similar artists, and play the tagged song. If you haven’t subscribed to Rhapsody, SongMatch is still free to download and free to use, but the only feature disabled is playback.
Streaming tracks using SongMatch would use less data and battery than via YouTube videos, like in Shazam. That for starters is a plus, but an additional perk is that once users tag a song, the tracks are stored in a Rhapsody playlist with you can access as you wish on any supported devices including your tablet, smartphone, or TV.
I talked to Rhapsody’s Head of Product Paul Springer prior to the launch of the standalone SongMatch app, and the impression that I was getting from him was that Rhapsody is venturing into building out mobile-driven products to increase user engagement with its services. “Mobile is so important for customers, and increasingly an important part of their lives. And our mission is to create a daily habit with customers around music and around listening. That necessitates that we help solve some of the problems they have in mobile in a better fashion,” says Springer.
For those of you that are curious SongMatch’s music recognition tech is powered by Gracenote, which only needs the first few seconds of the song to recognize the track.
There really isn’t much of a monetization strategy behind releasing SongMatch. SongMatch is 100 percent ad-free. For now Rhapsody is primarily concerned with two types of users with the music discovery feature (which, ultimately, is about engaging consumers with Rhapsody’s music streaming service of 16 million songs). First it’s the existing subscribers that can play more music and stay engaged with Rhapsody longer. If users aren’t finding value in the subscription, no matter the cost, Springer found, they’ll click the unsubscribe button right away. “My goal is to create a daily habit, so I’m not going to stop until every customer is using Rhapsody every single day, and ingrained as part of their daily habits. And we’re seeing very good trends in that direction,” says Springer. SongMatch is the first mobile “purpose-built” apps to boost engagement and there are more auxiliary apps in the works. Second, by offering a robust songmatching product, Rhapsody hopes that it can acquire new subscribers that might be fed up with not being able to play back songs. New users can sign up for a trial without entering in their credit card, which fuels new customer acquisitions.
Rhapsody’s SongMatch app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and Amazon App Store. The app for iOS and other devices is in the works, but Springer declined to provide a timeline.