AT&T Wireless began offering its U.S. subscribers a service Thursday that uses mobile phones to identify the names and performers of more than 1 million popular songs.
To use the music recognition service, users dial a three-digit code, then must hold their mobile phone for about 15 seconds near a speaker playing the tune that they want to identify. Moments later, the service sends a text message to the users' mobile phone indicating the title of the song and the name of the recording artist.
The first search is free, each subsequent search costs 99 cents, plus standard airtime charges. Subscribers are not charged if the service fails to recognize a song.
"We've all been in a situation where we hear a song that we like, but have no idea of its title or who sings it," said Glenice Maclellan, the company's vice president of messaging services. "Now, your wireless phone can 'name that tune' for you."
San Francisco-based Musicphone and British company Shazam Entertainment, which owns the searchable song database, are behind the service.
Wireless carriers are hungry for revenue and see such services as badly needed income boosters at a time stiff competition is forcing them to keep prices down and invest heavily in network upgrades.
Carriers in the United Kingdom have been offering a similar music recognition service since last year.