The history behind Shazam, the largest music identification app

Back in the day, when you heard a great song and wanted to know the title, you had to ask someone or wait for it to come on the radio. The sound and music identification app Shazam changed all that. It is now over 20 years old and its evolution keeps pace with the evolution of smartphones and watches.


Like Google, Shazam’s name has crept into the popular consciousness as a verb and noun. In fact, a song or sound identified by the app is known as “a Shazam.” That’s not all it has in common with Google, as Shazam is an innovative, solid search engine. Keep reading to learn more about the origins of Shazam.


The Origin of Shazam

When Apple launched the App Store in 2008, Shazam was among the original smartphone applications. However, the service had been active for years.

When Shazam’s prototype debuted in 2002, no one had smartphones. Users would call a hotline and then hold their phone to the speaker. The app could identify the details of the number to the user. After all, cell phones were quite simple.

“Besides making calls, the most advanced things people did with cell phones in those days were installing ring tones, sending text messages and, if you were really cutting-edge, possibly subscribing to sports scores updates via text message.” Shazam co-founder Chris Barton said: podcaster Danielle Newnham through Middle.

However, Barton had a vision that he shared with Shazam co-founders and OG team Dhiraj Mukherjee, Philip Inghelbrecht and Avery Wang. In 1999, Barton came up with the idea of ​​creating a music identification service. He was an MBA student at the time and regularly bumped into business ideas from classmate and friend Inghelbrecht. Here are two photos of Shazam’s founders taken 20 years apart.

At the time, several other companies were developing a music identification service limited to radio plays. This wouldn’t be helpful if you hear a song you want to identify at a club or while shopping.

Barton added: “Suddenly I thought, ‘What if someone could identify the song using the actual sound of the music captured via the mobile phone?’

When asked how he felt about Shazam’s longevity, he told MUO via email, “I always thought Shazam would be a popular product among cell phone users, but wow, I’m so glad I did. it has happened after such a long way!”

How Shazam works

As an audio search engine, Shazam works by identifying a snippet of a song and creating a “digital fingerprint” to recognize it more quickly in the future. Like our own fingerprints, the audio fingerprint has a distinctive data pattern that is unique to the song or sound clip. The technology was developed by Shazam co-founder Avery Wang, who took the lead in creating the algorithm.

The algorithm, as Wang explained it in a paper from Columbia Universityis “noise and distortion resistant, computationally efficient, and immensely scalable, capable of quickly identifying a short segment of music captured from a cell phone microphone in the presence of foreground voices and other dominant noise, and by speech codec compression, from a database of over a million numbers.”

In 2002, Shazam’s database contained a million numbers, as reported by the guard. It usually took about 15 seconds to identify if the number was in the database and to identify it. The app grew as the algorithm improved, and with the development of more powerful smartphones, Shazam can compare a sound to its database of more than a billion songs in seconds. Even remixes, covers and background noises are no problem for Shazam.

Nowadays, when you use Shazamthe app gives you the song name, artist name, and biography, as well as additional information such as lyrics, video, links to buy concert tickets, and other recommendations.

Key Shazam Milestones

1999: Barton and co-founders came up with the idea while stumbling upon potential business ideas.

From 2000: Shazam Entertainment, LTD is founded. Wang developed new music and sound identification technology.

2002: Shazam launched as a service where users would call and hold their phone to a speaker and later receive a text message once the number was identified.

Apr 19, 2002T-Rex’s “Jeepster” was the first song Shazamed.

Sep 2002: “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” by Eminem was the first song to reach 1,000 Shazams.

July 2008: The Shazam app debuted in the brand new Apple App Store. The first song identified using the iPhone app was “How Am I Different” by Aimee Mann.

October 2008: Shazam became available for Android users.

2011: Shazam’s identification features have expanded to include television shows and commercials, making it a true sound identification tool.

February 2012: “TiK ToK” by Ke$ha was the first song to reach a million Shazams.

April 2015: People can now use Shazam with their Apple Watch.

May 25, 2017: The game show “Beat Shazam” premiered on Fox.

September 2018Apple Acquires Shazam, Reportedly Paying $400 Million.

June 2021: Shazams reach 1 billion monthly.

May 2022: Shazam exceeds 2 billion lifetime installs and 70 billion Shazams.

In 2022, Shazam turned 20 and to celebrate, Apple Music released a “20 Years of Shazam Hits” Playlist with many of the songs with the most Shazams. If you don’t use Apple Music, you can still access the Shazam 20 years top 20 playlist on Spotify, an alternative playlist created by a Spotify user.

Shazam’s integration

Shazam integrates well with popular music platforms, so you can add your Shazams to your Spotify and Apple Music libraries. Not only can it help you discover music, but it also helps you build your library and playlist.

The platform is available through Shazam’s browser appthe App Store, Google Play, Chrome webshopand galaxy store. So no matter which operating system you’re using, you can still quickly use Shazam to identify your new favorite songs.

The future for Shazam

Shazam has changed the way people interact with and discover music. It has become part of the daily life of many music lovers as they use the app to identify songs they hear everywhere. Will it continue to do so under Apple’s helm?

If you enjoy learning about the history of the apps you use every day, Netflix also has a notable history as another innovative service that has changed the way we watch movies and shows.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *