I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Alex Musil, Shazam's VP of Product Marketing, about the history of the Shazam app and the milestones it is reaching today. For those who aren't familiar with the app (you don't know what you're missing)--and I'll keep this short for those who are--Shazam listens to music through your phone's mic and then analyzes it to tell you which artist/track it is. Basically, a useful app you can operate with one hand and get excellent results from. Definitely one of my favorites when I hear a song on the radio by a new artist and want to find out who it is, where I can get it, and even share it with my friends.
Shazam started in the UK in 2002 as a company that used SMS to share artist and track names to its users. To use this service, customers would dial 2580 on their phone, which opened a voice connection. This was how the "listening"--as it is called in the app today--took place. After analyzing the clip the customer called in with, Shazam would text them back with the artist and track name. Seems like a much more involved process than it is today, right? Nowadays, all you have to do is open the app, click one button, and the rest happens for you.
So how did Shazam get to where it is today? Well, from the sound of it, lots of hard work, some smart business practices, and a world of people that love music. Shazam went through 8 years of development, including partnerships with Samsung and AT&T. However, this lengthy development has landed them on essentially all major platforms, and it seems especially comfortable in its home on Android. Throughout this time, Shazam has tagged one billion tracks... yes, you read that right, one billion! The app is also being used in 200 countries, and in 30 languages; it's no wonder that Shazam is still pushing forward with new features for its users.
When Shazam first launched on iPhone, they wanted to make a more interesting version. To do so, they leveraged the technology that had become available to help them build a better app. From here, they realized it was going to be very successful, so they decided to go even bigger with their plans. They added more content, the ability to purchase the tracks, YouTube links, social media, and discography. Shazam is so motivated to bring you the newest content that they even have a team dedicated to discovering new tracks, artists and information about them.
If you've been using Shazam for some time now, you might have noticed they have a new version of their app available on the Android market called Shazam Encore. Basically, they moved to a freemium model, where you can get 5 tags a month for free and still use the app as you did before, or you can upgrade to the new version of the app for £2.99 (about $4.57 at the time of this article). Shazam Encore also includes some new features such as: a Tag Chart, Tour Info, Videos and other goodies. If you had Shazam on your phone before July 13, 2010, and downloaded an update from the market for the regular version, then you automatically received a 7 day initial trial of the full features and unlimited tagging. A nice taste of the app with no purchase sounds pretty fair!
Besides the busy schedule Shazam keeps while dominating the music identification world, they also like to hear from their users. This is the best part of being a member of the Android Community, isn't it? So that's where you come in. Do you have some feedback you'd like to share? Or better yet, how about a memorable moment that Shazam made for you or helped you remember? They want to hear about it! Pop over to their facebook and tell them your story or unique experience.