MySpace meets iTunes meets Google

Steve Hamm

I had the pleasure this week of being the first reporter to write about a new Web site and search engine that could make online music even more fun than it already is. Melodis, a two year old company in Sunnyvale, Calif, founded by four Stanford grads, has come up with a search engine technology that allows people who can’t remember the name of a song to sing or hum a few bars and find the answer. This could be a great feature on music e-commerce sites. And, of course, Melodis is peddling the technology to them. But you don’t have to wait around until iTunes adopts it to try out the search engine. Melodis created its own Web site,, as a showcase for its technology.

They way the Melodis search engine works is the company gathers recordings of popular songs by various people so the engine has a range of styles, tempos, and pitches to work with. The founders figured the best way to gather such samples was to set up a Web community and invite people into it. So Midomi is a social networking site built around music. Participants can search for songs and buy them online, create their own profile page, make their own recordings of popular songs, rate other people’s songs, and trade messages with others.

The key to Midomi’s success will be member participation. The search engine gets more accurate as more people, ranging from professionals to the tone deaf, record versions of songs. Some of the early participants have turned Midomi into a virtual crash pad for aspiring musicians. One of them, Karyna Fraser, of San Jose, the lead singer in a local cover band, has recorded more than 1000 of the 12,000 snippets in the Melodis engine database. “We’re out to be discovered, and this is a great place to show off what I can do,” she says.

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