SoundHound and TouchTunes - Convergence of Online and On-Premises Music Services

If you like and use the SoundHound music app (free), which can guess melodies like a musical savant, then you might want to add TouchTunes (free). SoundHound recently announced a team up with TouchTunes: an in-venue entertainment and music platform that provides service at over 60,000 locations. With SoundHound and TouchTunes together, you can now get your online music choices queued up when visiting any TouchTunes supported location!

TouchTunes is the modern analog or follow-up to the "jukebox". In the really bad old days before the interwebs, we actually fed quarters into beastly music-producing things that looked like escape pods from a '50s sci-fi movie. The really old ones at our local bowling alley, for example, actually had an automated record player inside that played 45 rpm records (er, made of vinyl, if you can dig it—we used to say that too)!

The TouchTunes experience is the new socially interactive jukebox, meaning it integrates with social media sites like Facebook, is online and interactive through an app you can use on your smartphone (iOS and Android versions supported). TouchTunes provides kiosk devices that consumers can use to select and play music as well (shown above).

The coolness comes in when other player apps and services (like SoundHound) leverage the TouchTunes API (which the SoundHound app now supports). You select artists, and of course you can get SoundHound to find a song for you by either humming it or letting it listen to what is playing in the background, which can then be fed into the TouchTunes queue at your local bar or restaurant (providing they have a TouchTunes capable device on premises).

Though the TouchTunes app is free to download, there is a requirement to pay to play songs. In my tests, I spent nearly an hour at the location in question, and still never heard the track I selected, so I surmise it was because the only other registered TT user there was a premium user (the app has an option to show all other registered users that are active). Premium users can pay extra to have songs play next.

I tested out SoundHound and TouchTunes at the local Glory Days. This national chain of sports bar/restaurants have a great atmosphere to take the family, stay up-to-date on scores and enjoy the TouchTunes digital jukebox experience (if you can get your selection to play of course). The SoundHound app makes it super easy to find artists and can also be tied to other online services such as Rdio. It admittedly did not guess my humming of songs very well—I got really bizarre responses when trying this, which certainly could not have been due to my amazing singing ability (uh, yeah, that must be it). Both apps were very responsive, but I was somewhat disappointed to not hear my selections with only one other registered user to compete with at Glory Days. Of course this was an anecdotal one-time trial.

The Verdict
SoundHound is a superb music app and service, and has our full stamp of approval. It is like having a personal assistant assigned to do nothing except find and play music for you. The TouchTunes integration is a novel idea to engage music lovers and a cool touch (no pun intended), but I am a bit concerned about the availability of getting your selections played (which could be hit or miss). The idea is great, but the implementation may need a bit of fine-tuning to ensure that all user selections are being played in a timely manner. I would warn that mileage could vary based on how many users are actively queuing songs, or bumping up their songs in the queue, etc. Since this is the first version featuring TouchTunes, I'm sure these two music service trailblazers will be able to work out any kinks quickly! Progress is a good thing—we no longer have to worry about pumping in the quarters to hear our favorite song!

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Nate Adcock is a system and integration engineer with experience managing and administering a variety of computing environments. He has worked extensively with mobile gadgets of all shapes and sizes for many years. He is also a former military weather forecaster. Nate is a regular contributor for the iphonelife.com and smartphonemag.com blogs and helps manage both websites. Read more from Nate at natestera.tumblr.com or e-mail him at nate@iphonelife.com.