Although the majority of Shazam‘s over 93 million U.S. users still use the app on their smartphones to identify, tag and share the songs they’re “hearing,” a growing chunk of that user base – around 10 million in the U.S. last year – has used Shazam to identify TV programs and ads. Today, the company aims to better serve this audience with the release of a new, universal iOS application which introduces a number of new features, including the ability to have the “shazaming” process run automatically in the background.
This feature, called “Auto-Tagging,” is the standout in today’s release. Before, users had to kick off the tagging option by tapping on the screen, then waiting while Shazam listened and then identified the sounds they were hearing, whether that was music, a TV show or a TV ad. While that’s still how things will work on the smartphone version, the updated iPad app now offers a more passive experience, designed for those using the app as a second screen while watching TV.
Notably, the feature will not be switched on by default.
Instead, after downloading the updated version, users will be walked through a brief tutorial that explains what Auto-Tagging is all about, then allowing users to switch it on, if desired. If they do so, the app will run in the background, listening for anything it can identify, and loading those items into a carousel at the top of its homescreen.
From here, users can interact with the content much as before – sharing it on social media, buying the song, show or movie from iTunes or Amazon, or in the case of TV shows, learning more about the cast and episode, viewing a playlist of songs in the broadcast, or heading off to sites like Wikipedia, IMDb, the official website and/or store, and more.
Some TV shows will work continue to work with the company to offer enhanced experiences, like “American Idol” had done in the past, and “The Voice” is doing now. These experiences are generally offered to TV show producers for free, with the stipulation that they have to promote Shazam on air.
However, the Fiat Brand and Fox Broadcasting Company are sponsoring the new app for the first three months after today’s debut, which is a paid relationship.
“Auto-tagging sets us apart from the industry,” explains Shazam’s EVP of Marketing, David Jones of the app’s big new feature. “The whole idea is that Shazam was already lightning fast and couldn’t be easier – it was press one button and, in a couple of seconds, you got the answers. We just one-upped ourselves. We got rid of that step,” he adds.
The company started working with television content as far back as 2010, and slowly began to build up its database with several dozen TV shows. It enabled “Shazaming” of many major events, including the Grammys, Super Bowl, and MLB games. Then, in September 2012, Shazam announced the app could now tag any show on any channel.
Today, the app supports 160 channels of live or DVR’d TV, including all nationwide programming and most nationwide TV ads as well – even the ones which have not been Shazam-optimized by those paying to run ad campaigns. To date, over 150 brands have run over 250 TV ad campaigns, leading to a “double-digit millions” revenue stream run rate, that is “doubling every quarter,” says Jones. “It’s a ‘green field’ situation. We can grow this as fast as we can move,” he says.
Meanwhile, he notes his company’s second screen competitors are struggling to get a couple of million downloads. (To be clear, he means apps used to ID content on TV. SoundHound is a Shazam competitor with over 100 million users, but its focus is on music.)
Though auto-tagging is the biggest of today’s new features, the updated app will also offer a revamped user experience on iPad which includes a way to view songs and TV shows trending around the U.S., as well as popular songs around the world. The social features which previously let users see what their friends are tagging so they could comment on that, are also now available on iPad, as are the full screen “LyricPlay” lyrics for music.
And Shazam has extended its relationship with Rdio, now allowing subscribers to hear a song in its entirety, instead of just a preview. Users can also sign up for trials, and Shazam will earn affiliate income for those who convert to paying customers. Jones declined to go into the details of the two companies’ specific deal, here, though.
With now over 300 million users worldwide, 93 million in the U.S, plus $300 million in music sales last year, and double-digits millions more in TV ad sales, the company is leading the pack of listening companions and second screen apps today. The updated iOS app will help it progress even further, and an Android tablet app is now in the works, as well.