Music app Shazam has made it possible to identify songs when you're out by simply having your smartphone "listen" to a song. Now, as the company expands its music discovery technology, it's also considering delving deeper into the world of e-commerce and retail.
"Shazam in retail could help you keep track of the products you care about, compare prices," said Shazam chief product officer Daniel Danker. "There's a million ideas around it. They all build on the magic of Shazam, which is that dead-simple experience of tapping a button and connecting with the world around you."
Danker explained that Shazam, which was valued at over $1 billion after its last funding round in January, is widening the breadth of what it can do, like developing visual recognition to pair with its audio technology. In the future, that could mean branching out past music to movies and shopping malls.
"Experimenting in these areas is natural for a product that has fundamentally been about connecting with the world around you," he said.
But image recognition is a tough technology to master, with giants like Google and Amazon still struggling with it, say some analysts.
That may be one reason why privately-held Shazam is also still investing in its bread-and-butter music algorithm. Shazam announced on Monday a new program for artist-led music discovery. Verified musicians—including Pitbull (44.87 million Shazam followers), Calvin Harris (42.0 million followers) and Maroon 5 (30.2 million followers)—can now post songs they are finding through the platform, allowing fans to see what they are listening to.
"It is really interesting to think of these artists not just as celebrities, but as people who are experts in music," Danker said. "If you like an artist, wouldn't you want to listen to things they want to listen to? For us, this is turning a moment of individual discovery and turning those into moments of shared discovery."
Danker said the goal is to deliver a more engaging experience for users. It also provides an effective marketing platform for artists to connect with Shazam's more than 100 million users each month through music. Danker said no monetary deals were made to get anyone on board.
"The better experience (users) get, the more time they spend in the app, the more money Shazam makes," he explained. "It's one of those circles that for us to succeed we have to deliver a really brilliant experience to our users."