Midomi.com: A Unique Way to Search Music

Rosalia A. Ballinger



Music retrieval is becoming increasingly more popular with the ability to search for content online instead of needing to go to a store or library in order to do so. Music information retrieval is becoming more interdisciplinary involving “experts from music perception, cognition, musicology, engineering, and computer science” in order to produce music information retrieval systems that are “algorithmic and methodological solutions to music search” like content-based methods of searching (Casey, Veltkamp, Goto, Leman, Rhodes, & Slaney, 2008, p. 668). One example of this new type of music information searching is found in the music database of Midomi.com. This website provides users with unique ways to search musical content. This paper will describe what Midomi.com is, how searching works within it, who its user group is, what makes it unique, and also challenges that it may face.

What is Midomi.com?
Midomi.com’s tagline is that it is “the ultimate music search” (Midomi.com, 2011a). It definitely offers extensive search possibilities and features to its users that might warrant the title it claims. Midomi allows for users to search music based on content by singing, humming, or whistling into a microphone on their computer in order to retrieve a particular song (Melodis Corporation, 2008, para. 1). Users may also type the name of a song, artist, album, or a Midomi username into the a search bar in order to retrieve content (Midomi.com, 2011a). The retrieved content allows for the user to “connect with a community that shares [his/her] musical interests” (Melodis Corporation, 2008, para. 1).

Midomi.com is a product of the Melodis Corporation (Melodis Corporation, 2008). This corporation has a music search technology called SoundHound that “searches sound against sound, bypassing traditional sound to text conversion techniques even when searching text databases” (SoundHound Inc., 2011a, para. 2).

This technology has allowed for SoundHound to become “the world’s fastest music recognition [and] the world's only viable singing and humming search” as well as provide “instant-response large scale speech recognition systems” (SoundHound Inc., 2011a, para. 2). Midomi.com uses the technology of SoundHound to provide users with the ability to search for music based on the vocal input of the user (or if preferred, through text content) (Midomi.com, 2011a).

The SoundHound technology is unique in its ability to search for music based on vocal input. The technology behind it is called Sound2Sound (S2S) Search Science, which “is a revolutionary technology…capable of recognizing various sound inputs including music and speech” (SoundHound, Inc., 2011b, para. 1). This technology is unique because it allows for a “combination of speed and accuracy unattainable through traditional approaches to sound recognition” (SoundHound, Inc., 2011b, para. 1).

This technology performs recognition between music and speech “by extracting features from the input signal and converting them to a compact and flexible Crystal representation,…[which] is then matched against a database of Target Crystals which have been derived from searchable content” (SoundHound, Inc., 2011b, para. 2).

The Target Crystals are generated from both audio and non-audio data formats (SoundHound, Inc., 2011b). “Sound to sound” matches are “performed directly on the Crystal representation,” which eliminates errors found in regular conversions such as “sound to text” ones in other music retrieval databases (SoundHound, 2011b, para. 4). This S2S technology also allows for both speed and accuracy to occur “simultaneously as opposed to sacrificing one for the other,” making it unique and very useful (SoundHound, 2011b, para. 4).

Searching songs by singing, humming, or whistling is possible on Midomi.com because S2S technology “matches multiple aspects of the user’s rendition (including melody, rhythm, and lyrics) with millions of user recordings” to find a match (SoundHound, 2011b, para. 7). This technology is even able to work effectively “regardless of the user’s key or tempo and takes advantage of lyrics (when present), independent of language” (SoundHound, 2011b, para. 7).

Searching on Midomi.com
After a user performs a search by singing, humming, or whistling a song into a computer microphone, the database searches other voice entries for a match. It is recommended that users sing/hum/whistle for at least 10 seconds in order to improve search accuracy (Midomi.com, 2011d). It is also best to have one person sing at a time with no background music (Midomi.com, 2011d).

If the search is not successful, it can be narrowed by selected a specific genre and language (Midomi.com, 2011d). If the search is successful, a list of matching songs that other users have submitted are displayed for the user to review (Midomi.com, 2011d). Sometimes there are parts of the song that are labeled as a match, sometimes a whole song is found to be a match, and other times there are no successful results (Midomi.com, 2011d). If this is the case, a user may retry their song recording again, search using text instead, or make their recording a new entry because it is possible that their particular song is not in the database at all yet (Midomi.com, 2011d).

If a user chooses to search for content through text by entering the name of the song, artist, or album, their results also include the actual song by the artist and not just the recorded singing of it by Midomi users (Midomi.com, 2011b). This links the user to a page with information about the artist including a general overview of him/her as well as a more detailed biography, his/her genre classification, videos of his/her songs, links to purchase them, photos, a listing of his/her albums with release dates, and Midomi fans of the artist (Midomi.com, 2011b).

User Group
Midomi.com is a free database that anyone is welcome to use (Midomi.com, 2011a). Anyone can search the database and see the search results; however, if one would like to submit new song entries that will be searchable by others, he/she must first create an account, which requires an email address and agreement to Midomi’s Terms of Use and Privacy Notice (Midomi.com, 2011c). Having a Midomi account is also required in order to comment on other members’ entries as well as submit material to artists’ general pages such as submitting photos or to tag oneself as a “fan” of an artist (Midomi.com, 2011a). Users are encouraged to submit new song entries in order to help others who may be searching for that particular song to be able to find it (Midomi.com, 2011e). Songs that have not been recorded yet are posted on the site so that Midomi users know which ones need to be added to the collection of renditions (Midomi.com, 2011e).

Purpose/Why Unique
This music information retrieval database is highly unique. Its goal is to be the “most comprehensive database of searchable music” (Midomi.com, 2011e, para. 2) and to obtain this goal by the help of its users submitting song entries. Midomi.com is also a way that users can connect with others in the music world, and once they submit a song recording, they can share it with friends, gather ratings, and receive feedback (Midomi.com, 2011e). Users can even collect enough votes to become a “Midomi star” and start developing their own fan group (Midomi.com, 2011e). Users can browse “Midomi stars” and their recordings as well as top rated recordings (Midomi.com, 2011a). There is also an “explore” tab where users can search for music based on genre, language, or time frame (Midomi.com, 2011a). There is a tab labeled “Hot Artists” from the main homepage too, which lists well-know artists, top tracks, and even a “What’s Hot By Language” tag cloud (Midomi.com, 2011a).

Midomi.com has an international scope, the website itself offering ten different language choices in which to display the website content (Midomi.com, 2011a). There are contributions of song recordings from people worldwide, which is an asset to this database. The ability to give feedback by commenting on and rating other people’s recordings engages a social media component to this music information retrieval system as well. This allows for connection through the means of technology in the music community (Midomi.com, 2011a).
Midomi.com is useful for users with varying needs. For one, it allows for the retrieval of song and artist information about a song/piece that a user may have no classifying information about for whatever reason. This might be because a user heard a song on the radio and does not know the name of it, has lyrics to a “mystery song” stuck in his/her head, or received an unlabeled compilation on a music mix from a friend and desires to know the name of the song. Music lovers who wish to browse songs, artists, and genres of music will also find this site useful. Another user group who may enjoy this website is those wishing to network through social media, whether that be to promote their musical talent or simply for entertainment in connecting with others worldwide.

Challenges
Although Midomi.com is a useful and unique music information retrieval website, there are some challenges that users may face in using it. For one, it seems to be less popular than some of the other social media and music retrieval sites such as Youtube.com and Pandora.com. Although different from Midomi.com, these are highly popular sites and do serve somewhat as competitors to this site. It seems Midomi.com needs to be promoted more and possibly create a presence on other social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter in order to stay relevant.
Another possible challenge in the use of this database is that it may be limiting its user group based on its promotion of song recordings. Some users will likely be timid to sing or hum out loud, and thus, they will likely not be as avid of users of this website. Even for those who do enjoy singing, they may find it embarrassing to do so in public, so use of this resource for them could be limited to only when they feel comfortable in the privacy of their home. However, the ability to search by text can be a solution to this possible barrier.
Conclusion
Although there may be some challenges to this music information retrieval website, Midomi.com offers so much to its users in its ability for them to search for songs by singing or humming into a microphone and see their results in a matter of seconds. The uniqueness of this modern technology is bound to see an increase in popularity of this website. The field of music information retrieval is entering into technologies with incredible features and potential, and the possibilities for continued growth for websites such as Midomi.com are truly exciting.


References
Casey, M. A., Veltkamp, R., Goto, M., Leman, M., Rhodes, C., & Slaney, M. (2008). Content-
based music information retrieval: Current directions and future challenges.
Proceedings of the IEEE, 96(4), 668-696.
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