Shazam has two new partnerships that show how mobile technology is changing how music fans discover, experience and purchase music. One is the FilterForGood project with Brita that offers Shazam users an exclusive stream of Train's upcoming album, California 37, before it hits stores on April 17. The second is a partnership with "American Idol" that for the remainder of the season allows viewers to access show-related content during any point in the broadcast.
Few products - Google's search engine is a classic example - reach such mainstream adoption that its name becomes a verb. But then again, few mobile apps have 65 million U.S. users and 200 million around the world. To "Shazam" something means to use the Shazam mobile app to identify or seek more information about a song or something on television. When a user "tags" a song, Shazam returns the song, title and other related information.
The company has expanded into television through its work with brands and major events like the Super Bowl. Tagging a television program or commercial that is Shazam-enabled (look for the Shazam logo in the corner of the screen) will return a custom page with information and opportunities for social engagement. David Jones, executive vice president, marketing, at Shazam, says Shazam tag volume either matches or exceeds the total number of tweets and Facebook likes combined for a given show or episode. And, he adds, Shazam users tend to view a television show's Shazam-related content for multiple minutes.
Billboard.biz: Could you walk me through this Train album preview? Exactly how does this work from a consumer point of view?
David Jones: If you Shazam any of the Brita ads, there will be an animated call to action on the bottom left corner of Brita ads that give television viewers the value proposition. It tells people they can get a preview of the new album and support the campaign to eliminate and reduce waste from bottled water. When you Shazam the ad, you'll get a custom tag page within the Shazam app which talks about the charity, the project, the initiative, but also gives you a link to go off and preview Train's new album. If you click on it, that link takes you over to a private page on SoundCloud where you can listen to the album. [SoundCloud] is our partner in making this happen. You can listen to one track or all of the album - not samples or previews, but full tracks.
Is that a web page or the SoundCloud app?
It is a mobile-optimized SoundCloud web page, so you do not have to have the SoundCloud app in order to listen to the album. It's a mobile-optimized, private page over at SoundCloud's web site.
Is going through Shazam the only way to get to that page?
Yes. You either Shazam the Brita ads to get to that page, as well as within all tag results within Shazam from today going forward for the next week. There is a menu choice in all new tag results that gives everyone a chance to preview the new album.
Is exclusive music something Shazam is going to offer more in the future?
Absolutely. We've done quite a few, over a dozen major promotions over the last year with top acts like Train but also Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, Coldplay, quite a few major artists have stayed with us in what we typically call "Golden Tag" promotions where there is one grand prize winner for what we call typically a once-in-a-lifetime experience. That's a meet and greet, or a fly-away VIP trip to a festival in London or Chicago, those types of experiences. As we continue to work with artists we're already working with, these types of opportunities present themselves to help promote new albums, new tracks, new concert tours, as well as increasingly over time you'll see us continue to promote emerging artists as well whose music has not yet reached mega-star status.
[Train] is the first-ever exclusive release of an album on Shazam. We've had other firsts and I anticipate more of this type of thing going forward. It's a great way to leverage our relationship with the artists, to bring exclusive experiences to Shazam's fans, and it's great for the artists and labels to promote new music to a rabid fan base.
When you're in a meeting with a label or artist manager, what's your pitch if you want exclusive music?
We have 65 million users in the United States and 200 million globally. They're all into music and discovering new music. So the opportunity to work with an artist in terms of a new single, new album, concert tour or new video, those are the four great opportunities to build a moment in time for those artists around which we can build promotions. Some of them are bigger than others. Sometimes they involve sweepstakes and a chance to meet the artist or fly-aways. Sometimes everyone gets a free download of a new track or, in this particular case, a chance to hear the album before anyone else.
You partnered with "American Idol" recently for the remainder of the season. Is that the first live music program Shazam has partnered with?
It is the first episodic, seasonal program we've partnered with. The first live music program was the Grammy Awards back on February 12. This is the first series, first reality show and obviously it's a major franchise and major property that millions of people watch every week.
What does Shazam bring to the program as somebody tags at any point in the broadcast?
There's one main experience built around each episode. The primary value propositions are the following: The consumer has instant access to buy, to see what songs are being sung by each contestant - not just that day but previous performances - and a chance to buy at iTunes if you're using our iPhone client. Also what's intriguing is the chance to buy the contestant's performance of songs as well as the original artist's performance of the song. So that's the music-buying side of it. A lot of people naturally Shazam television shows to identify and buy music conveniently, so that's a core experience that we're enabling for fans of "American Idol." Beyond that you can follow along the Twitter conversations of insiders as well as the rest of us who are engaging in the conversation as well. Similarly, for Facebook you can post the fact that you're watching "American Idol" via Shazam along with a note on your Facebook wall for your friends to see. Finally, there are links to mobile-optimized content to get more photos, more videos and the YouTube channel for "American Idol."
It's only been a week, but can you say how it's gone so far?
It's going very well. The word is obviously out now that we've announced it and we're looking forward to a great rest of the season and in particular Wednesday's and Thursday's performances where we expect a significant increase in overall tag volume and engagement.
What qualifies as going well? Is it the number of tags? Is it the level of engagement during the show? What are you looking at?
I can't speak for "Idol" or the producers or Fox, but from Shazam's perspective [going well] is the number of people that use Shazam to tag the show and the engagement that results, whether it's consuming photos and videos, whether it's following the Twitter feed, the postings and Tweeting in terms of social activity, and of course we track in aggregate how much music is purchased as well.