Shazam upgrades its mobile song service

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The Independent Online

Shazam, the UK technology company that allows users to identify and buy songs using their mobile phones, has upgraded its service so that customers can get information about the artist and get recommendations from other users with similar tastes.

Around 11 million people have used Shazam's music recognition service, which can identify around 4 million songs. Users simply tap a short number into their mobile phone and hold the handset up to a speaker. A text with the song and artist's name is then sent to the phone along with the option to buy the track.

Andrew Fisher, the chief executive of the company, said its new service labelled Shazam iD which is downloaded to the phone is a significant development for the company as it will be based on a subscription service rather than one-off inquiries. The service, which costs around 2 a month, has already been launched in North America and users are on average using the product 20 times a month compared to three times a month for the more basic product.

Shazam iD, which recognises songs more quickly and provides information about the artist, such as reviews, also acts as a recommendation service and allows users to share information as with a social networking site. Mr Fisher said song lyrics were one of the top 10 most searched-for items on the internet in 2006 so, making that information available on a mobile phone should stimulate more usage of handsets as music players. The new service can also store queries in the phone, so if the user is out of network coverage say, in a nightclub they won't forget about the songs they liked.

Mr Fisher said some network operators that offer Shazam through their portals are achieving revenues of about $5m (2.4m) a year. Yet he believes the service will become a mass-market one once it is embedded into phones. Shazam wants to be on one quarter of all mobile phones around 250 million handsets by the end of next year and is in talks with network operators.