TuneUp Media Moves Beyond Music Cleanup Into Sharing and Information Discovery

4/12/11Follow @wroush

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one of the problems created by the unruly, organic rise of digital music sharing: when tracks get ripped and redistributed, they are often parted from the track names and other metadata that CD publishers have been meticulously providing since the 1980s (and that Gracenote, which went on to be purchased by Sony, specializes in compiling). “The cool thing about [digital music] coming up organically was that it wasn’t inhibited by the labels or those usual barriers to dissemination,” says Adiv. “The flip side was that the labels weren’t there to make the rules, so there was a bit of anarchy.”

TuneUp’s first seed investor was Vince Vannelli at San Francisco’s KPG Ventures. “He talked to his teenage daughters and they said yep, they needed it,” Adiv recounts. Since then, millions of iTunes users have said the same thing—in fact, the software became so popular that you can now find it on the shelves of every Apple store.

With TuneUp, it’s free to clean your first 100 tracks and download 50 album covers. For $20 per year per computer, you can clean up your entire music collection; for $30, the software will keep working for the lifetime of your computer. About 15 percent of free users eventually sign up for a premium subscription, Adiv says. Which, by the way, is a phenomenally high conversion rate—most companies offering freemium services are happy with 3 to 5 percent.

TuneUp appeals to users, Adiv says, for some of the same reasons a high-tech Dyson vacuum cleaner might. “Vacuuming is still a chore, but Dyson gets people really excited about it,” he says. “TuneUp really appeals to this OCD that a lot of us have. Once you’ve seen how it can clean up your tracks, it can become a very obsessive experience.”

But once your collection is clean, then what? Lately TuneUp has started to talk more about “hidden features that we haven’t necessarily been pitching but we think are effective and fun ways to retain our user base,” Adiv says. For instance, from the TuneUp sidebar that appears alongside the iTunes window, users can now get more social with their music. “The share feature goes in, grabs my play count from iTunes, and allows me to post on Facebook what it is that I’ve been listening to—the last five songs, the top artists, the most played, my favorite albums,” says Adiv. In that sense, TuneUp provides the kind of cross-network integration that’s missing from Ping, the social networking system Apple added to iTunes last fall.

Similarly, the Tuniverse tab in the TuneUp sidebar monitors what you’re playing in iTunes and grabs related materials from the Web—think artist biographies from Wikipedia, music videos from iTunes, album recommendations from Amazon, and band merchandise listings on eBay. And the Concerts tab tells you if your artists represented in your music collection have … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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