|Founded||United States (1999)|
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
Number of locations
|7 offices (2014)|
Shazam is a British app for smartphones, PCs and Macs, which is best known for its music identification capabilities. Shazam Entertainment Limited was founded in 1999 by Chris Barton, Philip Inghelbrecht, Avery Wang and Dhiraj Mukherjee. The company is best known for its music identification technology, but has expanded to integrations with cinema, advertising, TV and retail environments.
Shazam uses a smartphone or Mac's built-in microphone to gather a brief sample of audio being played. It creates an acoustic fingerprint based on the sample, and compares it against a central database for a match. If it finds a match, it sends information such as the artist, song title, and album back to the user. Some implementations of Shazam incorporate relevant links to services such as iTunes, YouTube, Spotify or Zune. In December of 2013, Shazam was one of the top ten apps in the world, according to its CEO. The Shazam app has more than 100 million monthly active users and has been used on more than 500 million mobile devices. In October of 2014, Shazam announced its technology has been used to identify 15 billion songs.
Shazam offers two types of applications; a free app simply called Shazam and a paid app called Shazam Encore. The service was expanded in September 2012 to enable TV users in the US to identify featured music, access cast information and get links to show information online, as well as adding social networking capabilities.
In February of 2014, Shazam announced a redesign of the app, which included a new look and additional features, including lyric-viewing options, access to music videos and related videos, unique recommendations, improved biographies and discographies and additional functionality for use with TV shows. The update also featured a News Feed, and Auto-Shazam, a feature introduced in December of 2013, which runs in the background of users’ mobile devices to automatically identify media.
In July of 2014, Shazam announced the launch of Shazam for Mac, a desktop version of the app, which when enabled, runs in the background and automatically recognizes any song played on or near the computer, including songs playing in the background of TV shows or YouTube videos. Apple’s launch of iOS 8 in September of 2014 came with the seamless integration of Shazam into Apple’s intelligent personal assistant Siri function.
Shazam is a free or low-cost application that runs on Android, Apple iPhone iOS, BlackBerry OS, and Windows systems. The application is similar on most phones and the result is shown on the screen complete with details on Artist, Album, Title, Genre, Music label, lyrics, a thumbnail image of the song/album artwork, links to download the song on iTunes or the Amazon MP3 store and, where relevant, show the song's video on YouTube and give the option of playing the song on Rdio. Shazam is also available for Mac, as a desktop application.
Shazam identifies songs based on an audio fingerprint based on a time-frequency graph called a spectrogram.
Shazam stores a catalogue of audio fingerprints in a database. The user tags a song for 10 seconds and the application creates an audio fingerprint.
Once it creates the fingerprint of the audio, Shazam starts the search for matches in the database. If there is a match, it returns the information to the user; otherwise it returns a "song not known" dialogue.
Shazam can identify prerecorded music being broadcast from any source, such as a radio, television, cinema or music in a club, provided that the background noise level is not high enough to prevent an acoustic fingerprint being taken, and that the song is present in the software's database.
The company was founded in 1999 by Barton and Inghelbrecht, who were students at University of California, Berkeley, and Mukherjee, who worked at a London-based internet consulting firm called Viant. In need of a digital signal processing specialist, the founding team then hired Wang, who was a PhD student from Stanford University. As of September 2012[update], Wang is the only member of the original team to remain in the company, and serves as Shazam's Chief Scientist.
Rich Riley joined Shazam as CEO in April 2013 to increase the company’s growth, after over 13 years at Yahoo! and with more than 17 years of experience as an entrepreneur and leading Internet executive. "I look forward to extending our dominance in media engagement, from our roots in music to our leadership position in second-screen TV and want to ensure that Shazam is the company that helps people recognize and engage with the world around them,” Riley said in a statement at the time. Riley replaced Andrew Fisher, who was hired from Infospace into the CEO role in 2005 to strengthen industry partnerships and grow the userbase. Fisher is now executive chairman.
The first partnership was with Entertainment UK, part of Woolworths, whom they approached to digitise their music catalogue of 1.5 million songs in return for permission to create a proprietary database. As the service grew to have a worldwide userbase, it needed to keep its database up-to-date, which it does by having relationships with labels globally. By December 2008, the database had grown to 8 million songs.
In February 2013, Shazam announced a partnership with the music store Beatport, adding its library of electronic music to the service. On 3 April 2013, Shazam announced an exclusive partnership with Saavn, an Indian online music streaming service. The deal will add nearly 1 million songs in Indian languages to Shazam's database. In July 2014, Shazam announced a partnership with Rdio that allows Shazam users to stream full songs within the app.
In addition to music, Shazam has announced collaborations with partners across television, advertising and cinema. In May of 2014, NCM Media Networks announced a partnership with Shazam to incorporate Shazam into FirstLook pre-show segments that run in Regal, AMC and Cinemark theaters. In November of 2014, NCM and Shazam announced that NCM FirstLook pre-shows are now Shazam enabled on over 20,000 movie screens across the United States.
In August of 2014, Shazam announced the launch of Resonate, a sales product that allows TV networks to access its technology and user base. The news included the announcement of partnerships with AMC, A+E, dick clark productions and FUSE.
Shazam recently announced a partnership with Sun Broadcast Group on Shazam for Radio, a new offering that will allow radio stations to push customized content to listeners on Sun Broadcast’s over 8,000 radio stations in the U.S.
Early days of the service
Initially, in 2002, the service was launched only in the UK and was known as "2580", as the number was the shortcode that customers dialled from their mobile phone to get music recognised. The phone would automatically hang up after 30 seconds. A result was then sent to the user in the form of a text message containing the song title and artist name. At a later date, the service also began to add hyperlinks in the text message to allow the user to download the song online.
Shazam launched in the US on the AT&T Wireless network in 2004 in a joint offering with Musicphone, a now defunct San Francisco-based company. The service was free at launch with AT&T saying that it would charge USD0.99 for each use in future.
In 2006, users were charged £0.60 per call or had unlimited use for £4.50 a month, as well as an online service to keep track of all tags.
Shazam for iPhone 2.0 debuted on 10 July 2008, with the launch of Apple's App Store. The free app simplified the service by enabling the user to launch iTunes and buy the song directly if the user was on a Wi-Fi connection  (at the time, iTunes did not allow music downloads over 3G). It was also possible to launch the iPhone YouTube app, if a video was available.
In 2008, the service struggled to identify classical music.
Alongside the iOS 3 update in July 2009, Shazam updated its app to include a number of new features: marking the tag with GPS coordinates; sending tags to others as 'postcards', enabling them to buy the song; and Twitter integration.
The app launched on the Windows Mobile Marketplace in October 2009 as a freemium offering, with the first release of Shazam Encore. The free version was now limited to five tags per month: users typically tagged ten songs per month. Encore, priced at USD4.69, added several features such as song popularity charts and recommendations. Encore first appeared for iPhone in November 2009.
By December 2009, Shazam was downloaded 10 million times in 150 countries across 350 mobile operators. Around eight percent of users purchased a track after it was identified by the service. Its success led to a funding round from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in October 2009. In January 2011, Apple announced that Shazam was the fourth most downloaded free app of all time on the App Store, while rival SoundHound had the top paid iPad app.
Early adopters of the free application are still allowed unlimited tagging.
While Shazam already had Facebook and Twitter share buttons, deeper Facebook integration was released in March 2011. With Shazam Friends users can see what their Facebook friends have tagged, listen to the tracks and buy them.
With Shazam 5.0, released in April 2012, the app begins 'listening' as soon as it is launched and can take as little as one second to identify media. In addition to music, the app can identify TV programs and ads, if they are Shazam-enabled.
In August 2012, Shazam announced the service had been used to tag five billion songs, TV shows and advertisements. In addition, Shazam claimed to have over 225 million users across 200 countries. A month later, the service claimed to have more than 250 million users with 2 million active users per week. The Shazam app currently has more than 100 million monthly active users and has been used on more than 500 million mobile devices. In October of 2014, Shazam announced its technology has been used to identify 15 billion songs.
The Shazam app was listed among Techland's 50 Best Android Applications for 2013.
In August 2014, Shazam announced there would be no more updates for Shazam(RED) after August 7. Current users are advised to switch to the free version with tags transferred and ads removed (for free).
Apple’s launch of iOS 8 in September of 2014 came with the seamless integration of Shazam into Apple’s intelligent personal assistant Siri function.
In October of 2014, Shazam introduced version 8.0 of the app, which features a new and improved News feed, as well as a section featuring Shazam charts and an “explore” option which lets user explore Shazamed tracks near them and around the world.
Shazam announced the launch of Shazam for Mac, a desktop application, in July of 2014. When enabled, the app runs in the background of a Mac and automatically recognizes any song played on or near the computer, including songs playing in the background of TV shows or YouTube videos.
- SoundHound, previously known as Midomi, uses Query by humming to identify songs.
- Gracenote's MusicID-Stream has the main advantage of having the largest database of all music IDs (with more than 28 million songs).
- Musipedia is a music search engine that works differently from others because instead of using techniques to identify recorded music, it can identify pieces of music from a single melody or rhythm.
- Play by Yahoo Music.
- Bing music identification.
- Sony TrackID
- Path also has a music-identification feature.
- Stream That Song by Orange Innovation UK Ltd
Patent infringement lawsuit
As of September 2012, Shazam had raised $32 million in funding. In July 2013, Carlos Slim invested $40 million in Shazam for an undisclosed share. And in March of 2014, Shazam confirmed another $20 million in new funding, raising the total value of the company to half a billion dollars.
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