December 9, 2010 at 11:56 am

Music Apps Show Promise for Music Exclusives, as SoundHound Teams with John Vesely

For three days, starting on Thursday, December 9, the SoundHound music identification app for Android and iPhone will be the only place where law-abiding fans of John Vesely's band, Secondhand Serenade will be able to hear his latest single, demonstrating the potential of using music apps to premiere music.

If your favorite artist released a new song inside an unrelated music app, would you install that app on your smartphone just in order to listen to the exclusive?

SoundHound is betting you will, with Thursday’s exclusive premiere of the new single from John Vesely’s band, Secondhand Serenade. (I hadn’t really heard of him either but he’s all the rage.)

From Thursday December 9 to Sunday, December 12, the only place to hear Vesely’s latest single (unless someone pirates it, of course) will be the SoundHound’s music identification app for Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) and Google Android (search within Android Marketplace from your phone).

SoundHound calls this the “world first premiere [of a] new single on mobile platform.” Regardless of the validity of that correct-sounding claim, it surely won’t be the last in-app music premiere. Following in the footsteps of radio stations, television stations, websites and online music stores like iTunes, the mobile app could be the next place where artists and their labels can get paid to premiere their songs or albums.

A SoundHound spokesperson pointed Evolver.fm towards an eMarketer study finding that the number of people who listen to music on a cellphone in the United States is set to explode from 21.7 million listeners in 2010 to 52.2 million in 2014 — at which point the firm expects mobile music to generate a whopping $676.5 million in revenue.

Considering that people who own smartphones have already proven themselves to have a fair amount of disposable income at hand — not to mention a healthy appetite for media — it’s no surprise that music marketers want to target that demographic. Releasing music exclusively within an app seems a promising way to do that, and for artists to earn an extra buck.

As for SoundHound, its benefit in doing this is clear: All of these John Vesely fans will have a big reason to install and use SoundHound rather than its biggest competitor, Shazam, over the short term.

Over the long term, assuming they enjoy the way SoundHound identifies currently-playing music using their smartphone’s microphone, these fans will soon run up against the app’s monthly five-song limit , at which point they’ll need to upgrade to the full version of the app for $5.

Wait… so all parties stand to get paid, and the fan doesn’t feel ripped off? This is clearly not the stereotypically broken music business you keep hearing about.

We conducted a quick interview with SoundHound vice president Katie McMahon to find out more about the whole “music exclusive within an app” thing (edited for length and clarity).

Eliot Van Buskirk, Evolver.fm:  How will promoting music exclusively through apps differ from radio and other outlets?

Katie McMahon, SoundHound:  Bands care about their art form and making a personal connection with fans.  Utilizing mobile apps as a channel to connect with your fans is the next evolution of that, given the incredible adoption of mobile devices both in the U.S. and globally.  For more and more people, mobile is the best place to listen to and to search for music.  [We claim that] SoundHound is the fastest, most flexible music search and discovery service in the world.  For first time, fans can have an exclusive premiere right in the palm of their hands, instantly, and that creates delight.
Evolver.fm: Will people really pay for SoundHound just to hear this music? It’s an intriguing model.
McMahon: The great thing about this exclusive premiere is that users of both the paid and free versions of SoundHound can hear the exclusive. This means access to exclusive, relevant, and value-added content. For Secondhand Serenade and Cady Groves fans, they can hear something that they care deeply about, on their most convenient, if not most cherished, personal devices.
For the daily SoundHound users that discover these artists because of this exclusive, they may choose to listen to the song, and if it piques curiosity or inspires, they will dig deeper into the artists’ top songs, listen to previews, view lyrics, buy the album, and probably find other new tracks that they love along the way.  And as always on SoundHound, there is a “share” feature — heavily requested — that allows users to easily post the song information to Facebook, Twitter, or share via email or text message. In doing so, their friends learn about a music app that they may not already have, as well as a new band they might enjoy.