TuneUp Takes On Shazam With Free (And Ad-Free) Mobile Music ID App

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TuneUp, the service that cleans up your iTunes or Windows Media music collection, is moving into mobile from an unexpected angle.

Unlike the TuneUp iTunes and Windows Media plugins, the main feature of the new iPhone app isn’t its ability to correct song titles and supply missing album artwork. Instead, you can activate the app when you’re listening to music that you don’t recognize, then it will identify the song based on the audio. (You can also look up the lyrics, and there’s a link to download the song from iTunes.) In other words, yes, the experience is pretty similar to Shazam and SoundHound.

I tested TuneUp Mobile by playing some of the music on my laptop, and it identified the correct songs without fail. That’s not to say that TuneUp is better than the competition, but it holds its own. The real differentiator is monetization, specifically the lack thereof — the app offers unlimited song identifications for free, and there are no ads either. (Both SoundHound and Shazam offer free apps, but they’re ad-supported.)

Founder and CEO Gabe Adiv says he’s “not concerned with monetization of the mobile app right now.” It’s much harder to convince consumers to pay for something on smartphones than it is on their desktops or laptops, so rather than trying to squeeze money from the app, TuneUp is treating it as a sales tool for its desktop product. In addition to the song identification, the app also provides a “free diagnostic” of the music on your phone, identifying ways that the TuneUp plugin could improve your collection. So in some ways, even though it’s ad-free, the app itself is functioning as an ad for the TuneUp plugin.

In the future, Adiv says he wants to bring more of TuneUp’s features the phones — and perhaps his view on monetization will change then.

You can download the app here. And speaking of the plugin, TuneUp also just announced that it has crossed 9 million registered users.