Waxing lyrical about the future of music discovery

Shazam has come a long way from its beginnings as a music discovery service. MaryLou Costa talks to Beatrice Farina, VP of marketing and communications, about the brand’s evolution, its move into TV and what developments the future may hold.


Marketing Week (MW): Shazam became famous for being a music discovery app, but now its TV service has been launched in the UK. How did the move into TV come about?

Beatrice Farina (BF): Our heritage is very much in music but now we are moving into other types of discovery services – Shazam for TV, for example. Our service adds extra opportunities for people to engage with TV ads through their mobile phone. For example, by ‘shazaming’ a TV ad, you can download a coupon and, because it’s on your mobile, use it and share it more easily with friends.

We’ve been piloting the service in the US over the past two years. A Shazam-enabled programme is signposted by an on-air prompt to let people know there is extra content available. They receive a customised tag result that users can then share on social media.

MW: What brands have you been working with in the US?

BF: In the US, we have worked with the TV series Being Human and Covert Affairs. We work with the television networks on any series they would like to be Shazam-enabled. With Covert Affairs, Shazam users get extra behind-the-scenes content, and there is a Florence and the Machine track to download as well as a competition to win a trip to Stockholm.

We also did some work around the Super Bowl, which was significant for us because it signposted that we are able to do live events – and you can’t get a much bigger than the Super Bowl.

We had over 20 ads running that were Shazam-enabled, and we ran an in-game experience so that if you used Shazam during the game, you could see polls showing stats on reactions to the ads. Before Madonna and dance duo LMFAO’s performance during half-time, we ran an ad with Bud Light enabling people to download some free tracks and buy others.

Then we were straight into The Grammys. Through Shazam, users could get an advance list of nominees and performers and then also buy the music. Celebrities and high-profile bloggers were Tweeting about it too.


MW: Why have you partnered with ITV in the UK to offer Shazam-enabled television ads?

BF: It means we can accelerate growth and roll out the Shazam for TV capability here in the UK. The station’s sales teams have brand relationships that make that happen.

MW: How have ITV’s launch brands Cadbury and Pepsi used the technology in their ads?

BF: Cadbury has used Shazam to tag its ad. There was an on-screen prompt that ran during the 30-second commercial giving viewers an instant reveal within the Shazam experience. Users had to choose one of multiple choices to answer what Cadbury is the official sponsor for.

Those who answered correctly, saying that it is the official treat partner [of the Olympics], were given an instant reveal to see if they’d won a prize. They then entered their information for a chance to win an Olympic ticket package.

Pepsi, meanwhile, had a competition to win tickets to various summer festivals, as well as merchandise such as T-shirts.

Both allowed you to share the experience on social networks, be it on Facebook or Twitter.

MW: How else have brands used the app in the US? Can products and merchandise be sold using Shazam?

BF: We have a partnership with Delivery Agent, which looks at the demographics of a programme and links it with suitable products that people can purchase via Shazam during an enabled show, such as Covert Affairs. It wouldn’t be the exact outfit a character is wearing or the exact home furnishings on a set, but it would offer items that look similar.

MW: Why is Shazam for TV appealing to brands and how are you encouraging new partners to work with you?

BF: We already had scale thanks to our music service, which is why brands want to partner with us. We bring them an established user base. A year ago, we were getting 1 million new users a week and now we are getting 1.5 million. We are in 200 countries with 30 languages. Every quarter we experience exponential growth and it is brands that are approaching us.

MW: Won’t Shazam for TV be made redundant when internet TV takes off, and discovery is enabled through that single screen (eliminating the need for mobile interaction)?

BF: I’m not convinced this will be the case. If you had all your interaction on a single device like a TV, you would need to have everyone sat around it in agreement. And that wouldn’t be just over what you are all watching but what you are interacting with. It would be like fighting over the remote control all over again.

I don’t see the single internet TV screen delivering on what the user in a living room wants. I still see the second screen concept of the mobile remaining very relevant – everybody watching TV while interacting with their own device

A to B: Shazam has made sharing music even easier

MW: How have these developments seen your role change?

BF: One of the core things I have been involved in is how we can move the brand on from music and into overall content discovery. My role has always been about brand and communication strategy – delivered through PR, events and working with partners such as Android, BlackBerry, iTunes, and mobile carriers, to get our product known, talked and written about.

One of the core things I’m focused on is consistency – how we devise a brand and create a language, assets and inventory around it and stay true to that brand. Not just in how we communicate it externally, but how we bring the business along. And how we then work to instil that ethos into the product both visually and in how it communicates with the user.

MW: What initially attracted you to working at Shazam?

BF: I joined in 2008 after working in the mobile communications industry for a while. There were 43 people when I joined, with lots of heart and ambition. The idea was something really compelling that had already gained a lot of traction. I saw a great opportunity to take what had already been crafted and really refine it.

I made a decision a long time ago that mobile was the cutting-edge environment of telecoms, then when the apps world was on the verge of exploding, I realised this was the case even more so. I could really visualise where Shazam was going. The brand is one thing but the people behind it are a very talented bunch and that’s what keeps me passionate about it.

MW: People are beginning to use Shazam as a verb in the same way they do Google – they are ‘Shazaming’ or have ‘Shazamed’ something. What do you make of your brand becoming part of people’s vocabulary?

BF: Any marketer has to be careful about positioning their brand. But I think it’s a good thing when people reference Shazam in that way. I want fans to know they can use Shazam for many things and if they want to say they are Shazaming something, then that’s positive.

MW: Who do you see as your competitors?

BF: I know it sounds bullish but I don’t see any real competitors to what we do, either in the music identification space or the TV space.
If the service continues to deliver a wow factor and lives up to its promise, then it doesn’t matter who enters or leaves the market – it’s about how you stay the leader in the category.

The real story

Shazam started out as a mobile-based music discovery service, evolving into an app that enables users to buy identified tracks. The service works by ‘listening’ to a piece of music and then uses software to identify the track. Its move into TV extends this service, allowing brands to use the technology in their ads. According to Shazam, more than 100 brands have used the service and it hopes to replicate in the UK the success it has had in the US, Australia and Europe.

Pepsi Max and Cadbury are the first brands to run Shazam-enabled ads in the UK, following an exclusive deal with ITV announced earlier this year. For Cadbury, users could use their app to identify the song played in its ad and be taken on a digital journey to win Olympics tickets.

Around 50,000 viewers used the Shazam app to tag the Pepsi Max and Cadbury ads during the commercial breaks for the Britain’s Got Talent final, according to figures from Shazam and ITV.



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