TuneUp Recognizes Music, But Also Cleans Up Your Music Collection
Apparently the market for music identification apps isn't too crowded for new competitor. TuneUp Media has released a song identification app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad to compete against established leaders Shazam and SoundHound. But unlike the leading two music identification apps on the market, TuneUp Media's app is not the company's core business.

TuneUp's app does one thing Shazam and SoundHound cannot do: provide a free diagnostic of a user's mobile music collections with statistics on missing song information, album cover art and duplicate tracks. These features are possible because TuneUp Mobile uses the Gracenote's MusicID recognition technology that powers its metadata cleanup application for desktop.

The goal of launching the mobile app is to compliment the desktop app. "Our vision is to create a comprehensive, seamless experience for our customers that enriches their enjoyment of digital music," said Gabe Adiv, founder and CEO, in a statement.

The company isn't starting from a dead stop. TuneUp Media already has over 9 million registered users of its desktop application. Its services fix incorrect or missing song data, fill in missing album artwork, remove duplicate songs and provide artist bios and concert information. An annual subscription of the entire feature bundle goes for $39.99 and a lifetime subscription costs $49.99. Individual features cost $19.99 per year or $29.99 for a lifetime subscription.

Even with an installed user base of nine million people, TuneUp's mobile app still lags behind Shazam, which has 65 million registered users in the U.S. and 200 million worldwide, and SoundHound, which boasts the top paid iPad app of all time in addition to popular smartphone apps. But there's clearly room for growth in music identification apps, and TuneUp Media isn't basing its entire business on its new app.

Using a mobile app to drive another business is a little bit like using online news to drive subscriptions to print newspapers and magazines. The mobile app is free but has low-value users. The main product costs money but returns much more value per consumer. TuneUp Media already has a complementary service, so its music identification app is meant to drive business to its subscription service. Shazam and SoundHound are both standalone products and standalone businesses.

TuneUp's app lost a head-to-head matchup with SoundHound, however. TuneUp could identify the more mainstream titles but was tripped up on such songs as "Stop the Fuss" by reggae artist Horace Andy and "Big Six" by electronic artist Bonobo. ( TuneUp Media press release)

Spotify Upgrades Its Android Offering
Spotify has launched a preview of its new Android app. Spotify's Android app had been a pale imitation of the iPhone app. This update closes the distance between the two.

The new Android app is a big improvement over its clunky, unattractive predecessor. The main controller is a button in the upper left-hand corner that opens up a list of functions: search, playlists, new releases, inbox, friends and settings. The "what's new" section with the new releases shows recommended albums, friends' top playlists and a small selection of new releases.

Since the app is only a preview rather than a finished version being given a widespread release, the download link is available at Spotify's blog rather than Google Play's app store. No date has been given for a launch of the final version, but Spotify's announcement says the company is working on additional features such as folders and Last.fm scrobbling.

To install the app, make sure you have checked the "Allow installation of non-Market applications" in the Settings > Applications menu. ( Spotify blog)

Investors Expect Pandora Shares To Improve
Some investors are betting Pandora Media shares won't be bottoming out too much longer. Pandora shares rose as much as 10.5% to $8.91 on Thursday before closing up 7.8% at $8.69. The increase coincided with an increase in the volume of call options that expire in June with a strike price of $9.00. A call gives the option owner the ability to buy a share of stock at a particular price. In this particular case, the call options allow the holder to purchase shares of Pandora at $9.00 any time before the expiration date. With a reported average premium of $0.76, the call options would be "in the money," or profitable, above $9.76 - a 12.3% premium over today's close. Pandora shares reached an all-time low of $7.83 on Wednesday after hitting a previous all-time low of $8.12 on Monday. ( The Options Insider)