Shazam is well-known for being a music company that built a business around a single, very useful feature, but that may change with today’s major update.
Typically, people use Shazam to identify unknown songs using a device’s microphone to “listen” to the audio data. But today Shazam is rolling out a new update that seeks to transform the service into a place people go when they want to find new music, or to quickly scan to find artists or songs they’ve already discovered previously but want to hear again. To do this, Shazam has added integration for popular streaming music service Spotify and a handful of new features that use real-time music tagging data.
“People don’t tag songs they already know and love, so that presented us with some interesting challenges,” Shazam chief product officer Daniel Danker told VentureBeat. He explained that the Shazam team wanted the service to be a place where you could not only discover new music but listen to it as well.
Probably the biggest change in the update is that Shazam is revising the home screen on its mobile apps. You’re still presented with the large “tag” button at the top of the screen, but below it there is now a series of music “charts” that aggregate songs using real-time music data. Rather than sales alone, Shazam bases its charts on the number of times people are tagging a song, their location, the genre, and more. The idea is to give you a quick look at the songs gaining attention that no one is really talking about yet.
“Shazam won’t give you the top 100 hottest tracks, but what we’re hoping to do is give you the next 100 songs that people are listening to,” Danker said.
As for making it easy to listen to music, Shazam’s update includes a new feature that lets you select a chart to sample each of the tracks presented. The screen transforms into a sort of player mode that displays a track, album artwork, and buttons that point you toward purchasing. Flipping between tracks can be done using touch gestures from left to right, and music starts playing for each track almost immediately. Those who have connected their Spotify or Rdio accounts have the option of listening to the full tracks without navigating away from the app. Those without a paid streaming music subscription can hear a 20-second preview of each song.
Another big first for Shazam is that it will now display the number of times a track has been tagged by its monthly active user base of 100 million.
Additionally, the company is debuting a new “Hall of Fame” section that will display the most Shazam-tagged songs and artists of all time, which fall into the categories Silver (song tagged over 5 million times), Gold (tagged over 10 million times), and Platinum (tagged over 15 million times). Only four tracks have reached Platinum status, including Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” (19 million tags), Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” (18 million tags), Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” (16 million tags), and Passenger’s “Let Her Go” (16 million tags). It’s an interesting development, especially because labeling something Platinum in the music industry previously referred to album sales in excess of 10 million, which isn’t very easy to do in 2014.