For those seeking musical enlightenment, Shazam is an excellent tool for discovering which song is playing and identifying tunes anywhere.???From a modest start, Shazam is now used by over 50 million users in 150 countries across the world.
The company has seen explosive growth since launching its application on the iPhone 3G in the summer of 2008, with its application being downloaded more than 10 million times on the Apple iTunes App Store.???
The music utility is also amongst the highest downloaded applications on BlackBerry App World, Nokia’s Ovi Store and Google’s Android Market. In all cases, Shazam is consistently rated among the most popular applications on each respective platform.???
In November, Shazam introduced the Shazam Encore application for iPhone and iPod touch. The £2.99 application promises extra features, fast performance and a slick new design. The application allows users to discover songs they hear playing from a database of over 8 million songs.
???Shazam is also the first mobile application to link up with (RED)TM and joins several iconic brands including Apple, American Express, Converse, Dell, Emporio Armani, Gap, Hallmark and Starbucks.???(RED)'s primary objective is to engage the private sector in raising awareness and funds to help eliminate AIDS in Africa.
Companies whose products take on the (PRODUCT)RED mark contribute a significant percentage of sales or portion of the profits from that product to finance AIDS programs in Africa, with an emphasis on the health of women and children.???
For each (SHAZAM)RED application purchased 20 per cent of the price is contributed to the global fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.???
Macworld caught up with Shazam’s CEO, Andrew Fisher to find out more about the company.
Q. When did you realise there was a need for the Shazam app?
How many times have you been in your car or a bar and heard a track but didn’t know its name or wanted to know who sang the track? The founders of Shazam recognised how useful it would be to have a mobile service that could give you the details about tracks that you heard and Shazam was consequently born out of trying to find a solution to this problem - initially launching with an IVR (SMS) service evolving to today’s mobile standalone application.
Q. With millions of users around the world, has one platform proved more of a success for Shazam than any other?
More than 50 million people in over 150 countries have used the Shazam service. The company has seen explosive growth since launching on the iPhone 3G in the summer of 2008, with its application being downloaded more than 10 million times on the App Store as well as being amongst the highest downloaded applications on BlackBerry App World, Nokia’s Ovi Store and Google’s Android Market. In all cases, Shazam is consistently rated among the most popular applications on each respective platform.
Q. I know it’s still early days, but what's has the reaction been to Shazam Encore?
Shazam’s original application is still one of the most popular applications in the App Store and is currently the most popular music application worldwide. Whilst it is early days we have seen a strong uptake of Shazam Encore. Shazam Encore has received extremely positive feedback and is currently in second place amongst the most popular music paid apps on the App Store.
Q. Have you experienced any backlash related to the fact that you are charging for Shazam Encore?
No, Shazam has always put its customers first and throughout our research we were consistently told that they would be prepared to pay for a fuller featured app. We developed Shazam Encore from scratch so we could include many of the features that our fans requested, including the ability to search for music, find recommendations and access Shazam music charts.
Given the resources required to do this, and to maintain the service, the time was right to introduce a fee-based version, and we know from customer feedback that our users were happy to pay this onetime fee. We have also previously said that we would align our pricing across platforms – Shazam already has paid apps in the marketplace.
Shazam continues to support the existing free Shazam app on the App Store with new users limited to five Tags per month. Additionally, the free Shazam app has been enhanced with services such as the ability to share Tags onto a Facebook mini-feed. All existing Shazam users of the free app were ‘grandfathered’ into the new free update, which means they continue to enjoy unlimited tagging.
Q. Do you see the free version of Shazam still being available and updated on a long term basis?
We plan to continue to offer a free version of Shazam on the App Store and on other platforms. We will also continue to communicate with our users to learn what extra features to introduce to the Shazam application that enhances the overall experience.
Q. Why should anyone upgrade to Shazam Encore who hasn't already?
Shazam Encore is faster, slicker and enhanced with new features and functionality. Not only does it have improved speed performance, making it even quicker for users to tag tracks, but we have built in a new feature that allows users to search for music by artist, album or track as well as to the ability to find music recommendations based on the tracks they have tagged.
In addition users can now access Shazam music charts generated by millions of other Shazamers to help them keep up-to-date with new tracks and players on the music scene. Shazam Encore also automatically enters into car mode when the iPhone is placed in an in-car dock to make it simple to discover what’s playing on the radio even when driving.
Q. How well does Shazam recognise songs or even mash-ups that are heavy with samples?
Shazam works with pre-recorded music and can recognise any track that is in its eight million strong database. When a user tags a song they hear, Shazam uses its proprietary algorithm to quickly compare this sample to the other tracks in the database. It has an extremely high success rate when it comes to recognising pre-recorded music and can recognise many mash-ups too.
Q. Finally, how do you see Shazam evolving in 2010?
We will continue to make improvements to all of our applications available across the Apple App Store, BlackBerry App World, Nokia Ovi store, Android Market and Windows Marketplace. We hope to continue growing our user base as well as enhancing our users’ music journey through extending our database to include even more music tracks. As we continue to build our database to encompass country-specific music, we will continue to look to launch our service in new markets.