If you thought Shazam was a company started just for recognizing song names, then you have some catching up to do! If you confuse this creative startup for a tried, tested and predictable platform, then you are sorely mistaken.
Remember a time when you were sitting at a bar/restaurant and could not for the life of you remember what the name of the song you are listening to was called? These moments can be broadly classified into two parts: the pre Shazam moment and the post Shazam moment. The pre Shazam times were extremely infuriating, a time where you would be plagued for eternity when your memory deserted you. Post Shazam, everything in the music industry changed and life became extremely easy!
When Shazam was founded in the year 1999, there was a host of other apps which were launched during this period as well. Unfortunately (or fortunately for Shazam,) these apps crashed and burned as swiftly as they surfaced, making it difficult for people to believe in the emergence of something new or exciting to look forward to. Be it through luck, chance or by using innovative and cutting edge technology, Shazam managed to stay afloat amidst all the crashes.
The technology used for creating Shazam was extremely creative. What worked for Shazam in the initial years was that back then, music in the digital form did not exist. By creating a user interface with the perfect syndication of recognising music, enabling messaging services and music discovery, Shazam set itself apart in more ways than one. One of the major reasons behind the staggering success of this app was the fact that it used technology to its complete advantage! Despite CD players and recorders already existing, of smartphones and the sudden rise in their popularity.
The change in Shazam’s success route
The emergence of smartphones opened new doors for Shazam. While the technology used by smartphones for music was similar to this music recognition app’s software, it still helped create a large new database for users. With more and more people buying the app on a regular basis, people started associating music with the big red button that would help you discover songs you did not know about. Digital music also started emerging in a swift manner and Shazam soared to new heights by riding on this new growth wave.
This shift had a considerable effect on the way music was being bought as well. While Apple’s iTunes may have been instrumental in helping people buy individual tracks as opposed to entire albums, it was Shazam who first made this possible. Their selling factor was simple: listen to the track, like the track, find out about the track and buy the track! By the time this app was taken over by Apple, it accounted for a little more than 10 % of the music sales world over.
Shazam’s eventual fall and take over by Apple
With the decline of MP3 players and an increase in the amount of data one could store on their phone, buying music started becoming a thing of the past. Although people were still buying music, Shazam’s presence in the market was about to be disturbed by the entrance of an evolution in the form of Apple!
On 10th July, 2008, soon after launching the first ever iPhone and a little after launching iPhone 3G, Apple opened its doors to apps which wanted to be a part of this new wave. The first ever Shazam application for the iPhone not only allowed people to discover music, but also to buy, share and play the music they liked! Once the bugs in the previous version were cleaned up, the new interface became more user friendly.
What went wrong for Shazam over the years was that this music sharing and listening app never really had a strong foundation to its name. Apple was sitting on a large influx of cash and its decision of buying out Shazam was not a question of why, but a question of why not. The buyout was crucial and changed the way people listened to music, creating a new way of life not just for avid music lovers, but also for Apple as a company!
Shazam’s rise and fall from success was quite a cautionary tale, warning people that if you play hardball, you have to keep an eye out for the competition as well!