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Ask your mobile to name that tune

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Combining "song recognition technology" and mobile phones: Shazam's idea is cutting edge, database-driven and COOL.

Combining “song recognition technology” and mobile phones

Yet another new business that has figured out that consumers (a) love their cell phones and (b) are getting addicted to the ‘right here, right now’ lifestyle. So what’s the newest thing in the UK? When hearing a song they like but don’t know the name of, mobile phone owners (i.e. everybody) can dial ‘2580’, point their phone to the music source, and London-based Shazam will then send a text message (SMS) with the name of the artist and the track. Besides the technology enabling recognition of the songs (patent still pending), Shazam has built a database with almost 1.6 million tracks in it. Revenues come from partnerships and from the actual calls. Other services include sending song clips to friends, accessing your ‘tags’ on a personalised web page, and buy the CD straight away on That’s right: not Shazam isn’t active in the US, mainland Europe or in Asia: plenty of opportunity for similar services or partnerships for entrepreneurs who act NOW. And with photography-enabled phones being shipped by the millions as we speak, who’s going to come up with an image bank, so that one day we can point our camera phones at clothes, furniture and gadgets in the public domain and find out where to buy them? The world IS for sale!


We highlighted British Shazam last December, and pointed out the international business opportunities. Quick recap: Shazam enables mobile phone users, when hearing a song they like but don’t know the name of, to dial ‘2580’ and point their phone to the music source, then receiving a text message (SMS) with the name of the artist and the track. Buying the track is facilitated by partners such as, since December 2002, Shazam received millions in funding, closed deals with portals like MSN, attracted more than 500,000 users in the UK, announced expansion into Germany (together with Vodafone) and are now eyeing the Austrian, Dutch and Italian markets. No word on the rest of the world (though China could be in the works, source: Brand Republic), so this is still an interesting arena for European, North-American, Asian and South American telcos, as well as for potential competitors.


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