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Songcatcher Snatches Tunes From Live Radio

Music lovers are getting a new, convenient way to capture their favorite songs using nothing but a household radio, a PC, and a software download that debuted Tuesday from Gotuit Audio, Inc.

SongCatcher, an application which records songs directly from FM radio onto PCs, actually "catches" songs off the airwaves, creates a playlist of the downloaded tunes, and lets users keep songs they like and delete the ones they don't.

SongCatcher allows users to make a legal library of existing music for free, using virtually no bandwidth, according to James Logan, founder and CEO of Gotuit Audio Inc., the Boston-based startup that created SongCatcher.

SongCatcher technology enables "time-shifting" and personalization of radio content. While there are several time-shifting applications for television, including TiVo and Replay, SongCatcher is the first such software designed for radio, claims Logan.

To install SongCatcher consumers connect a radio (a household boom box, stereo receiver, or a handheld FM radio) to their PC using the audio in or microphone jack. The SongCatcher software is downloaded from the SongCatcher Web site, www.songcatcher.com. Users can either set SongCatcher to record all the songs during a specific time period or listen to live radio and "catch" specific songs as they are broadcast. SongCatchers buffering technology even allows users to save a song even after it has started playing.

The user's software connects each day with SongCatcher's Web site, and downloads data that will identify each song's title and artist. Individual songs are then placed in SongCatcher's PC-based jukebox, which has the look and feel of an e-mail program in-box. Users build a music library by keeping the songs they want to catalog, and deleting the rest. A "Never Again" button ensures that a specific song or artist will never be captured in the future.

Music fans can download a free trial of SongCatcher at http://www.songcatcher.com. Users will have the option to upgrade to a premium version of SongCatcher for $29.95 a year.

SongCatcher offers several advantages over Napster's controversial MP3 exchange service, Logan said. With Napster, users have to know in advance what they want to download - and go get it. SongCatcher, by contrast, collects and presents recorded songs to users - without individual requests. Bandwidth is conserved as consumers record music that is transmitted over the air as opposed to downloading each individual song over the Internet. In addition, SongCatcher's "Buy" button gives listeners a convenient method for instantly purchasing the CDs associated with the songs captured off the air.

If there was ever a reason for DJs to talk over song intros, this is it.