Shazam > Napster

It’s just one more technology that I’m late to the game using, but in just a couple of weeks I’ve become a believer.

I’m talking about Shazam. No, not this Shazam:

But THE Shazam, the one that is an app that can identify music, movies, advertising, and television shows, based on a short sample played and using the microphone on the device.

I had heard of Shazam shortly after it came out, and played around with it, but I was somewhat turned off by the fact that there was a limit to how many songs – five per month –  you could identify with the free version of the app (OK, yes, I’m cheap.)

That restriction went away in 2011 (a lifetime ago in Internet time), but I never really gave much thought to using the app.

Then about a month ago we were sitting In Bill Wyman’s restaurant in London, surrounded by an amazing amount of Rolling Stone memorabilia and listening to great music. After listening to a couple of these great songs, but having no idea what the song was or who the artist was, I decided to download the Shazam app.

I’ve been using it for about three weeks now, and all I can say is “Shazam!”

I’d love to talk to the people who developed the app to see how they did it, and how they keep it up to date. The app is not only amazing in terms of its underlying technology, it is quite user friendly as well.

If I am out somewhere and a song comes on the radio or a store’s sound system that I don’t know, I just launch the Shazam app, and within a couple of seconds it tells me the name of the song, the artist, allows me to follow along with the lyrics, has a link to the video of the song, and a link to the artist

In addition, I can connect Shazam to my Spotify account, and then play the entire song on Shazam, courtesy of Spotify. I can also then add the song to a Spotify playlist. If that’s no enough, I can share the song to Twitter or Facebook, or email myself, or anyone, key info about the song, such as song title and artist.

In my opinion, the entire app is more amazing than Napster, and that was clearly a game changer, and one that I was obsessed with.

In my short list of amazing apps I have on my phone, Google Maps is number one, and nothing else is even close. And rounding out my top three would be the Polar heart rate monitor app and Shazam. There are other great apps out there, such as ESPN, my financial calculator app, and the Weather app, but those seem like relatively straightforward apps in terms of proving fo or crunching numbers.

But telling me how to get point a to point b, in real time, using a car, public transport, or walking – now that is amazing. Plus it can tell me when the next bus or train is coming – incredible!

As is listening to a song for two seconds and telling me what the song is. And the same with wearing a heart rate monitor strap around my chest, and then having my heart rate displayed on my iPhone- now that’s amazing.

Getting back to Shazam – and no wonder Apple bought it back in December – it’s potential seems unlimited.

The free version has ads, which don’t bother me, and given the number of people who use Shazam, the ads must generate a lot of revenue.

On the user side, the app potentially exposes the user to new genres of music, or songs that he or she may have never heard of, which may lead one to purchase the song or an album.

And for those who may be curious as to the types of songs I’ve Shazamed in the pat few weeks, here’s a sample:

Going Crazy Overnight, Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings

excuse me while i break my own heart by whiskeytown:

Let it Ride by Ryan Adams & the Cardinals:

Satellite of Love by Lou Reed:

Loco in Acapulco by the Four Tops:

Seven Wonders by Fleetwood Mac:

Cupid by Amy Winehouse:

Cupid’s Chokehold by Gym Class Heroes:

Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks:

And She Was by the Talking Heads:

Rock Steady by Aretha Franklin:

No Woman, No Cry by the Fugees:

As you can see, quite the eclectic mix. Try to stereotype my musical preferences now!

So a big shout out to the creators of Shazam, it’s made me more appreciative of music, and good app design. Wishing you continued success as part of the Apple family.



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