Snaptune

Snaptune: Remember recording radio to cassette?

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I was introduced to Bill Baxter, one of the founders of new startup SnapTune, today. The company will be launching this week. With a little user configuration, Snaptune will automatically downloads songs and other content directly from an FM radio to your computer, and add meta data from Amazon and other sources.

Setup requires a download (PC only right now, so I had to break out my old laptop), and connecting a FM receiver to the PC (including just about any FM radio via line in). The service also shows song information, including information obtained from Amazon.com’s web service.

Snaptune One works with most FM tuner cards and USB FM devices, or you can simply connect an FM radio up to line-in on your PC to get started. For less than $2 for a simple cable you can get started with Snaptune today and start discovering an endless supply of new music. With a USB FM tuner you get the added benefit that Snaptune can tune to different stations for you according to a schedule you define.

Snaptune One works with almost any radio station anywhere in the world. FM radio goes in, individual songs come out, it’s that simple!

Snaptune One also shows you information about each song, the albums that contain it, other albums by the same band, how popular it is on the radio, how new it is, whether it’s going up or down in popularity, and detailed reviews for the albums from Amazon.com. With a couple of clicks of the mouse you can add any album you like into your Amazon.com shopping cart.

According to Bill, Snaptune is able to find complete songs and other content in audio streams by using “advanced signal processing and search techniques”. When I pressed him for more details, he wouldn’t budge, citing IP protection concerns (fair enough), but added “it just works, try it!”

Well, I wasn’t able to try it because I couldn’t find a USB FM receiver for my computer today (Fry’s for some crazy reason doesn’t carry them). I’ll be doing more “research” tomorrow though. Bill tells me CompUSA carries a bunch of different brands.

Based on one of the screen shots, though, one thing is certain – Snaptune will do a good job pulling in meta data about the songs from Amazon and other sources (including user created data).

Once the hardware is setup and the client installed, you simply set your favorite radio stations (and if you like, specific times of broadcasts), and Snaptune will automatically download the music and metadata for you. This is a music discovery service – like Pandora, you tell it something about what you like (in this case, certain stations and times), and Snaptune selects music for you based on that information. While you can use existing software to record FM on your computer, Snaptune does all of the hard work for you and guarantees full audio of the songs, etc.

For free accounts, you can move up to 20 songs to your hard drive in MP3 or WMA format. You can, of course, then move these to a portable device, burn to cd, etc. There will also be an option for a premium account, which will have no limits on downloading to hard drive/devices.

For premium accounts, it would be really great if they set up a RSS feed and included each song as an enclosure.

Snaptune’s other founders include Mark Atherton, Warren Burch and Ian Mercer. The company, which is self funded (that’ll change soon) is based in Bellvue, Washington.

As I mentioned above, Snaptune should be launching this week. To be notified when it goes live, enter your email here.

Existing competitors in this space include Replay Radio and RadioTime.

NOTE: I’m trying to figure out if I like this service better than Pandora. They are both excellent ways of discovering new music. With Pandora, you get instant gratification but no way to keep the music you like without buying it separately. I think I’ll use both. :-)

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