Shazam Launches Music Player For iPhone

The startup behind the popular smartphone app, which enables users to identify music by scanning and matching short audio clips, today unveiled the Shazam Player.


Shazam is used to hearing music–now it’s playing it back at you.

The startup behind the popular smartphone app, which enables users to identify music by scanning and matching short audio clips, today unveiled the Shazam Player, an iTunes-like service for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch that takes advantage of Shazam’s unique, patented technology. Not only does the Shazam Player let users play songs and build playlists, but it also provides discovery tools, such as scanning songs for streaming lyrics, social sharing, tracking concert dates, or viewing related YouTube videos.

It’s the startup’s first new app since Shazam launched on the iPhone in 2008, and an indication of the company’s ambitions beyond being just a music-fingerprinting service. Shazam, which raised roughly $32 million in new capital this summer, has for the most part always been a middleman–a way to discover music that you’ll inevitably purchase via a third party, whether iTunes or Amazon. But after facilitating roughly $100 million in music transactions last year (of which it takes a slight cut), Shazam has recognized the larger potential for the service in everything from music to television to advertising.

“Our real focus in the business right now is to drive engagement,” says Shazam CEO Andrew Fisher. “That is, driving daily engagement, and giving people reasons to come back to the service on a more frequent basis than they have done before.”


More than 165 million people have downloaded the Shazam app, and they identify about 5 million pieces of content every day. But user behavior has trended away from music matching. “The primary use case has shifted from almost exclusively name-that-tune years ago to actually buying songs,” Fisher says. “The reality is people know it’s the Chili Peppers or Lady Gaga playing. They’re not using Shazam to name the song–they’re using it for convenience to actually buy the music.”

Now the company hopes Shazam’s application will spread beyond music itself. It has partnered with brands such as Old Navy and General Mills to allows users to “Shazam” commercials in order to see promotions or extra content. It’s also started to compete against services such as Yahoo’s IntoNow and GetGlue, which let users “check in” to television shows and movies to chat with friends. “Historically, we wanted to be the world’s leading music discovery company,” Fisher says. “Today, we want to be world’s leading mobile discovery company, meaning we’re not tied to music.”

Of course, launching the Shazam Player indicates yet another way that the service is tied to music, but it also shows the extent to which Shazam aims to grow its influence. The company, according to Fisher, is doing “tens of millions of dollars in revenues [a year], and trending toward hundreds of millions of dollars.” And with about 1.5 million new users joining the service each week, it’s no surprise Shazam would want to add new services to expand its reach.

“We want to evolve the brand,” Fisher says. “When people think about the most convenient way to discover, buy, and share content, or engage with an advertiser or brand that they’re interested in, we want them to go to Shazam.”

[Image: Flickr user Erik Mauer]

About the author

Austin Carr writes about design and technology for Fast Company magazine.