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.
As of September 2012, Shazam has raised $32 million in funding. In July 2013, Carlos Slim invested $40 million in Shazam for an undisclosed share.
How It Works
Unlike some other services that allow you to identify a song by humming, Shazam works by analyzing 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 an error. 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.
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 gets links to show information online, as well as adding social networking capabilities
Though Shazam is not profitable, the company said it has generated revenue of $300 million in the past 12 months from song purchases. When users purchase a song from iTunes or other digital stores after tagging it on Shazam, the company gets a cut of the sale. Additionally, Shazam said it has now worked on more than 300 TV ad campaigns. The London-based company began using its software to tag TV commercials a few years back, and it charges companies it works with six-figure fees to include the Shazam logo on their ads, letting users know that they can expand the commercial through their smartphones. The company last received funding, for $32 million, in September. Since then, Shazam said it has more than tripled its active user base to 70 million.
Shazam is defining a new category of media engagement which combines the power of mobile with traditional broadcast media and advertising to create compelling value-added experiences for consumers, content providers and brands.