|Founded||United States (1999 )|
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
|Number of locations||6 offices (2012)|
|Parent||America Movil (10.1%)|
Shazam is a commercial mobile phone based music identification service, with its headquarters in London, England. The company was founded in 1999 by Chris Barton, Philip Inghelbrecht, Avery Wang and Dhiraj Mukherjee.
Shazam uses a mobile phone's built-in microphone to gather a brief sample of music being played. An acoustic fingerprint is created based on the sample, and is compared against a central database for a match. If a match is found, information such as the artist, song title, and album are relayed back to the user. Relevant links to services such as iTunes, YouTube, Spotify or Zune are incorporated into some implementations of Shazam.
Shazam offers three types of applications; a free-to-try program simply called Shazam, their pay-to-play program called Shazam Encore, and their most recent addition called (Shazam)RED, launched in 2009.
The service was expanded in September 2012 to enable 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.
Shazam Encore and (Shazam)RED
In late 2009 Shazam launched Shazam Encore and introduced a 5-song limit on the number of tags per month on the free version. However, the limit was removed in late 2011 following a trial on Android devices. Shazam Encore was always unlimited and free of banner ads, until September 2012 when they started adding banner ads listing the words "Presented by" when tagging TV shows. Encore features easy access to play tags in Spotify and Pandora.
(Shazam)RED is identical to Shazam Encore in features and price (both are priced at 5.99 USD) but a portion of the application payment for (Shazam)RED purchases is donated to support HIV/AIDS prevention, as part of the Product Red campaign (together with other brands such as Nike, Apple, American Express, Converse, and Girl). The campaign's mission is to prevent the transmission of the HIV virus from mother to child by 2015 (the campaign's byline is "Fighting For An AIDS Free Generation").
Shazam is also a free or low-cost application for some Android devices, Apple iPhone, BlackBerry devices, Nokia smartphones, Windows Phone devices, and most Sony Ericsson phones (not to be confused with Sony Ericsson's own TrackID, which is a similar application). The application is similar on most phones and, unlike before, it does not text the response; instead 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 Spotify.
How it works
Unlike some other services that allow you to identify a song by humming, Shazam works by analysing the captured sound and seeking a match based on an acoustic fingerprint in a database of more than 11 million songs.
Shazam identifies songs based on an audio fingerprint based on a time-frequency graph called a spectrogram.
Shazam stores a catalog of audio fingerprints in a database. The user tags a song for 10 seconds and the application creates an audio fingerprint based on some of the anchors of the simplified spectrogram and the target area between them. For each point of the target area, they create a hash value that is the combination of the frequency at which the anchor point is located, the frequency at which the point in the target zone is located, and the time difference between the point in the target zone and when the anchor point is located in the song.
Once the fingerprint of the audio is created, Shazam starts the search for matches in the database. If there is a match, the information is returned 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 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, a former Yahoo! executive, was appointed to the role of CEO in April 2013 to prepare the company for a stock market flotation. Riley replaced Andrew Fisher, who was hired from Infospace into the CEO role in 2005 to strengthen industry partnerships and grow the userbase. Fisher now becomes 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.
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's progress accelerated with the launch of the Apple's App Store. In the space of 18 months, by December 2009, Shazam was downloaded 10 million times in 150 countries across 350 mobile operators. And around eight per cent of users were purchasing the track after identification. 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.
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 to 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 app store 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.
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 programmes 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.
- 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.
Patent infringement lawsuit
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