Right on time for SXSW, music app developers were quick to unveil their latest and greatest creations in hopes of making a splash at the annual event. A common theme among many is the addition of social features -- focusing on giving users the ability to broadcast what they are listening to at any time or place to others as a sort of push music discovery system.
Steve Jang, a former imeem executive, has re-emerged at Schematic Labs with a new music app called SoundTracking, which lets users share what music they're listening to in different ways. If listening to a song on an iPhone with the app, users simply press a share button to have the band and song title listed on the app. If listening to a song from an outside source, a Gracenote-powered music ID feature identifies the song and updates the app with the same information. Users can also add pictures and messages to the update, and other users seeing these updates can sample 90-second previews thanks to an integration with iTunes (and of course buy the track via iTunes as well). Other common social features include the ability to follow friends and other users, "like" or "love" songs, add comments, and view a list of songs that are trending among all users of the app.
AOL's Bows 'Play'
In what looks like an almost identical app to SountTracking, AOL launched Play, an app for Android mobile phones that lets users listen to music and share it with others. Whereas SoundTracking founders call their app a sort of music "postcard," AOL is calling Play a "Instagram for music." The app lets users tag songs played that are either stored on their phone or streamed from Rdio (using the service's new API) and then share what they're hearing at any time via the app, Twitter and Facebook.
SoundCloud Expands to Foursquare, Songkick
An update to the SoundCloud app adds integration with Foursquare and Songkick. The Foursquare integration allows SoundCloud's 3 million registered users to share what they're listening to on the popular location based service. Users can add a link to what song they are listening to whenever they check-in using the Foursquare service. And with the Songkick integration, artists can add upcoming gigs directly to their SoundCloud profile.
AppMakr Adds Socialize
AppMakr, a company that lets users create their own customized iPhone app, has added a new feature to its platform called Socialize. It allows users to build a mini social network within each app accessible to all app users. So for instance if an artist uses AppMakr to create an app for fans, all fans downloading the app would have the option to set up a profile and network with other fans also using the app.
Mobile Backstage Launches in Canada
The folks behind the Mobile Backstage app (or "interactive mobile platform" as they like to call it) are bringing the service to Canada. Artists can set up their own version of the app letting them and fans share news, photos and other content. It also features a Foursquare-like feature where fans can check-in to artist gigs and see who else is there. Canadian artists "These Kids Wear Crowns," and "Sweet Thing" test-marketed the app in the country prior to launch.
Additionally, several features of the mobile app are expanding onto Facebook, adding a customized Google map that lets users see where other members are located.
And in other mobile app news…
Discover Expands to the iPhone
Discovr, the iPad music discovery app, is now available for the iPhone. It contains all the features of the iPad app, including an interactive map of music artists and how they are connected to other artists, which has been described as a sort of visual version of Pandora's music recommendations. But the new version adds the ability to listen to 30-second samples of each song, buy tracks via iTunes, and the ability to share content on Twitter and Facebook. Discovr is just the teaser app for Jammbox's bigger plans, which is to launch an iPad/iPhone music magazine curated from existing social feeds and user information (sort of like a FlipTK for just music).
Katy Perry Issues Revenge Sequel
Katy Perry released a sequel to her Tap Tap Revenge series, appropriately named Katy Perry Revenge 2. The new version includes access to her hit song "Firework" and her latest single "E.T.," both offered free via a sponsorship by Microsoft's Bing service. The first version of the game came out last October and has been downloaded 4 million times.
StarMaker Interactive introduced a mobile app called Auto-Tune Birthday. As the name implies, the app lets users record themselves singing "Happy Birthday" on their phone, and then send the Auto-Tuned version to their friends via e-mail or posted to friends' Facebook wall (rather than just writing "happy birthday" like everybody else). The app comes with ten versions of the traditional song, including hip-hop, R&B, orchestral and others, and lets users add photos with birthday-themed graphics and other personalization options. The app follows past iterations from the company, including StarMaker Karaoke, and the Auto-Tune Christmas app.