Shazam Reacquires Its Audio-Recognition Intellectual Property

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Mobile music discovery platform Shazam is reacquiring the intellectual property it sold to music royalty outfit Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) back in 2005. At the time, the startup had sold the IP, which involves Shazam’s core audio recognition technology, in order to help fund its development. Given Shazam’s recent growth and expansion into other areas beyond music identification, now was the right time for the company to reacquire those rights, says Shazam CEO Andrew Fisher.

Shazam made its debut as a clever app that could “listen” to the music playing on your radio in order to tell you what song was playing. However, in recent months, the company has been working on leveraging that same technology for use with TV advertising. In early November, the company also partnered with Delivery Agent, allowing you to “tag” (that’s Shazam lingo for “identify”) a TV show itself. The first studio to participate in this venture is NBCUniversal, which now lets you tag “Covert Affairs” episodes to discover the clothing and accessories worn by the TV characters as well as offer you an opportunity to buy related NBC merchandise. MTV and various advertisers are also on board with this aptly dubbed “Shazam for TV” initiative.

By reacquiring its core technology, Shazam can integrate it more fully into its services, the company explained in a statement. This means not just the music ID service, but the TV ID services, too.

Says CEO Andrew Fisher:

“Shazam has seen fantastic growth in the last year, adding more than 1.5 million new people every week, with the total number of Shazamers around the globe now exceeding 165 million. This is the optimal time to repurchase the technology and patents so that we can continue to add to and protect our growing portfolio which will, in turn, allow Shazam to broaden our range of products, further developing Shazam for TV and other innovative offerings.”

The price Shazam paid to buy back its IP was not disclosed. Under the agreement’s terms, Shazam will assume ownership of the IP while BMI will be able to still use the technology in the B2B sector to detect and identify performances of music through its BMI Recognition Services. BMI will also become a Shazam shareholder and the companies will work together on other co-marketing programs and service offerings in the future.

The sale of IP may have helped Shazam get off the ground back in the early days, but the company has since turned to outside investment to raise additional capital. This summer, Shazam raised a huge $32 million round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Institutional Venture Partners, with participation from DN Capital.