Shazam's New Visual Recognition Capabilities Could Change the Way Labels Promote Albums

The app known for song identification has expanded into visuals and partnered with Disney Music, among others.

A little camera icon appeared on the Shazam app today and it means big things for the New York City mobile company. Now, the company's 100 million users can use the app for visual recognition. But the camera won’t ID just anything you point it at. It’s designed for posters, packaged goods and print media -- in other words, still images that have been pre-registered with the company -- that, when Shazam’ed, unlock various pieces of content. 

"We already have deep relationships with the music industry," said Rich Riley, CEO of Shazam Entertainment, in a call with Billboard on Wednesday. "Because, of course, we were already promoting artists and shows. Consider this a direct extension of that. Now, you can Shazam a CD or a concert poster and be taken directly to a page where you can buy the music. We think that's huge." 

Riley said the company has had several conversations with labels and festival promoters about potential campaigns, but could not announce names or initiatives just yet. It's worth noting that for now, the visual capabilities only work for billboards at a close range, such as in the New York subway system or on a city block. 

"We’re still developing the technology to hit billboards from a highway distance, but there's serious potential there," he said. "One tap and you’re at the trailer."