(The Recording Academy will host the Social Media Rock Stars Summit on Friday, Feb. 11 in Los Angeles, featuring a discussion regarding relevant issues concerning music and the mobile platform. Participants will include Adam Lambert and Chamillionaire, and social media pioneers representing Facebook, Foursquare and Pandora. As a complement to the event, we offer our exploration of today’s most noteworthy music apps. Be sure to download The Recording Academy's MusicMapper app, and create, map and share your personal musical journey. And tune in to our live stream of the Social Media Rock Stars Summit live on Feb. 11 starting at 2 p.m. GRAMMY Live.)
How popular are mobile apps? According to 2009 data released by Apple, maker of the iconic iPhone, more than 7 billion apps (free and paid) had been downloaded from the iTunes App Store since it launched in July 2008. A recent Nielsen study found the average smart phone owner has 27 different apps on his/her device at any given time. While games, weather, maps/navigation/search, and social networking apps made up the most popular types of apps downloaded, music apps ranked fifth. Analysts project the app market will continue to grow, predicting approximately 50 billion apps will be downloaded across all smart phone platforms by 2012 and driving revenue of $17.5 billion worldwide.
In part three of "The Music App Map," we take a look at some of the mobile music apps making waves in the categories of Music Consumption and Discovery And Engagement.
The Last.fm app allows users to create customized radio stations based on any artist or genre. The app uses Last.fm's "scrobbling" feature to build these custom playlists from a seed song selected by the user, based on what millions of other Last.fm users are listening to. The more the app is used, the better its recommendations. The app provides artist bios, concert information, and track and playlist sharing. IPhone users can visit their online Last.fm profile to get a full report of their iPhone and iTunes listening history.
A Billboard Best Music Streaming App winner, the mobile extension of MOG's on-demand music streaming service provides access to a catalog of more than 10 million songs with unlimited listening and unlimited downloads. It also includes "artist-only" radio stations, a "similar artist slider" that adjusts which songs are played next in the random stream, and a radio queue that lets users see upcoming songs before they're played. Additional features include playlist synchronization between website and mobile platforms and the ability to run in the background so other apps can be used simultaneously. When the device is out of wireless network range, users can save cached tracks on the device. The mobile subscription costs less than $10 per month, compared to the $5 monthly fee for Web-only access.
Pandora's customizable Internet radio app is arguably the most popular music app to date. According to Nielsen, it's been installed on more than 20 percent of all smart phones in the United States, and according to Pandora nearly half of its daily streaming activity comes via smart phones. The app allows Pandora users to take their customized stations with them on-the-go, built by matching a given seed song against Pandora's proprietary Music Genome Project recommendation engine. It's free, as long as you're willing to put up with the occasional ad. An ad-free version is $3 per month.
Vevo's app is more than just a simple scrape of the Web-based music video service. In addition to providing on-demand access to a catalog of more than 20,000 videos from more than 7,000 artists, the app adds something new in the form of localized discovery. Using the iPhone's geolocation technology, the app lets users see what videos are being watched nearby by other users, and opt to tune in themselves. The free app tallied more than 1 million downloads in its first week of availability. Versions for Android and other smart phones are currently in development.
Others Of Interest:
iheartradio, Napster, nuTsie, Rdio, Rhapsody, Slacker Radio, Thumbplay Music
Discovery And Engagement
Short for "local-casting," LoKast is a social network rolled into an app. Music-wise, users are able to share tracks (as well as photos, videos and other content) with other LoKast users within 300 feet, allowing them to view and download songs marked as sharable. But this is no P2P service. Artists must register with the service and give permission for their tracks to be shared. Artists, including Echo And The Bunnymen, New Kids On The Block and Third Eye Blind, have also used the app to distribute exclusive content to fans. The app was downloaded by more than 200,000 users as of July 2010.
Lyric Legend brings together music and lyrics with game play and discovery. The lyrics (all licensed) appear on-screen in little glowing balls, which users have to tap as they are sung. It is another app similar to "Guitar Hero," but for lyrics rather than music. The app comes with three songs, with the ability to buy and download more than 85 additional hit songs through the regularly updated in-app store. Users can compete against other players in their hometown or worldwide, and the scoreboard feature on the Lyric Legend site ranks top scorers by song and difficulty.
This music discovery app allows users to identify tracks by "tagging" — simply holding their smart phone toward the music that is playing. Each "tagged" song provides the track name, artist, the album from which it came, links to videos on YouTube, and more. All tagged songs are saved, so users can go back and listen to 30-second samples anytime they like. Additionally, users can tweet songs via their Twitter accounts, add to their Facebook feed, e-mail directly to select friends, or create a Pandora Radio station based on tagged music.
Others Of Interest:
BandMate: Concert Tipster, Gracenote, MetroLyrics Pro, NPR Music, SoundHound Infinity
(Antony Bruno is the executive director of digital/mobile content & programming for Billboard magazine. He previously worked for the mobile industry trade publication RCR Wireless News, and served as assistant VP of wireless Internet development for CTIA — The Wireless Association.)
Come back to GRAMMY.com tomorrow for part four of our feature as we provide an overview of the apps making waves in the category of Games And Entertainment. Meanwhile, download The Recording Academy's latest app, MusicMapper, and create, map and share your personal musical journey.
Tune in to the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. For updates and breaking news, please visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.