back to article Shazam! Apple chucks £300m at Brit what's-that-song app – report

British music ID service Shazam is to be bought by Apple, in a deal reported to be worth £300m ($401m). The purchase, revealed by TechCrunch, is likely to be formally announced today. The site's sources say that the value of the buyout is in the nine-figure range, with one believing the deal will be worth around £300 million …

  1. djstardust

    Ah well

    Will probably be the end of it for us non Apple types. Pretty much guaranteed it will point straight to itunes or Apple Music and I don't have either of them on any of my devices.

    To be fair I probably use it a couple of times a month to identify a track I had forgotten the name of.

    They probably see it making money going forward but I'm not so sure .......

    On the upside at least it wasn't bought my M$ who have a track record of buying up decent companies then killing them.

    1. Andrew Lobban

      Re: Ah well

      I can't imagine Apple are interested in Shazam for their app, its already nicely integrated with apple music, at least on iOS, and Shazam's profit is so small in Apple terms as to be meaningless.

      So I wonder why they would buy them - I can't think of a reason other than maybe they want the ipr to the matching algorithms or something. If that's the case then surely that means native integration with Apple music.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah well

        They have seen the integrated music recognition in the latest pixel phones and need to play catchup again... Its the only logical conclusion I think.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah well

      Will probably be the end of it for us non Apple types. Pretty much guaranteed it will point straight to itunes or Apple Music and I don't have either of them on any of my devices.

      There's also SoundHound, which apparently is even capable of identifying classical music (according to a friend who likes all of that - I'm a tad more selective :) ).

      1. Sane

        Re: Ah well

        Used Shazam to ID a piece of classical music on Radio 3 just last week. Not sure how long it’s been into Francis Poulenc and chums but there you go.

        Now I’m wondering just how obscure you can go and still get a result. Must try and find some Tuvan throat music later.

    3. tony72

      Re: Ah well

      The speculation I've read elsewhere is that they want to give Siri the ability to recognise songs etc by integrating Shazam. No idea if they will crapify the standalone Shazam app in the process; it shouldn't be necessary, and would probably only drive people to Shazam alternatives more than driving them to use iTunes or whatever, but companies don't always seem to act rationally about these things.

      1. Thomas Wolf

        Re: Ah well

        Siri has been recognizing songs (probably by using Shazam?) for awhile. So you're listening to some dumb speculators.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Ah well

          For those on Microsoft, Cortana does a pretty good job of this too.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Ah well

      "On the upside at least it wasn't bought my M$ who have a track record of buying up decent companies then killing them."

      And also typical of British success stories. Build it up then sell it offshore.

  2. lglethal Silver badge
    WTF?

    The financial world is crazy...

    OK two things:

    1) How on Earth do you make Money identifying Songs for People? More to the Point how do you make 40million doing that???

    2) If it is really making 40 Million a year, 300 Million seems a pretty low price (8,5 years ROI assuming no increase profits). But considering that this Company is actually making Money how on earth are the likes of Snapchat, and Uber which have never made so much as a Cent valued higher?

    The financial world is crazy...

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: The financial world is crazy...

      1) How on Earth do you make Money identifying Songs for People? More to the Point how do you make 40million doing that???

      Nothing crazy - just referral fees to iTunes/Spotify etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The financial world is crazy...

      It's also $401 million dollars for those occasions when $400 million just isn't quite enough, is there a special "I got an extra million out of Apple!" badge and if so how do I get one?

      Silliness aside they provide click through links for people already looking or listening to something. These are of value to advertisers who want to push people to their products, add in some demographics and it's slurp city.

    3. horse of a different color

      Re: The financial world is crazy...

      1) Affiliate fees, mobile ads, third party partnerships (e.g. Siri, etc)

      2) They were valued at $1 billion a couple of years ago, so if the sale price is correct, they have lost a considerable amount of value since then.

    4. Jon 37

      Re: The financial world is crazy...

      > How on Earth do you make Money identifying Songs for People

      People go "Oh, I like that song and want to buy it but don't know what it's called". So they go to Shazam to identify it, Shazam has afilliate links to online stores where they can buy it, and Shazam gets a cut.

      That's similar to how Google made a lot of it's early money - people were searching for something to buy it, and Google was showing them advertisements for the thing they're searching for. Relevant search advertising works.

    5. macjules Silver badge

      Re: The financial world is crazy...

      Perhaps it is the underlying technology that Apple want. Think Hotdog? Not Hotdog?

    6. goldcd

      Affiliate marketing, I'd presume

      You hear a tune you like, Shazam then tells you what it is.

      It then gives you a load of buttons you can push to buy/listen to that track from a load of sellers of music.

    7. Snorlax Silver badge

      Re: The financial world is crazy...

      @lglethal:"How on Earth do you make Money identifying Songs for People? More to the Point how do you make 40million doing that???"

      Well, firstly the app - you have an ad-supported version and a paid-for version, so there are two money making opportunities straight away.

      Secondly, having identified a song the user can buy it on iTunes or Google Play Store - presumably they get a cut of any proceeds

    8. Cowboy Bob

      Re: The financial world is crazy...

      1) How on Earth do you make Money identifying Songs for People? More to the Point how do you make 40million doing that???

      I saw a presentation on this a while back and one of the most profitable things they do is sell the location data of the lookups back to the record companies as it tells them where their marketing is working and where they may need to focus more effort

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: The financial world is crazy...

        They also are involved in TV advertising; an advert uses a particular recording of a song, distinguishable to shazam, and users "shazam" the song to find out more about the advert.

      2. DougS Silver badge

        Location data

        One of the cool things with Shazam is looking at the map and seeing what music is being shazamed where. Want to know what's hot in Ibiza, you can look it up.

        This is something that's valuable to the record companies, but as Apple is a pretty big "record company" in its own right this is probably valuable to them as well. If someone is wanting recommendations in iTunes or Apple Music, Apple knowing what's trending in lookups where they are located can only help make those recommendations better.

    9. Hawkeye Pierce

      Re: The financial world is crazy...

      Sloppy reporting I'm afraid...

      Latest accounts (available via Companies House website) show a TURNOVER of £40m, Gross Profit of £37m, but Administrative Expenses of some £41m leading to a operating loss of around £4m. So "making £40m" a year should not be equated to "making £40m PROFIT" by any stretch.

  3. LewisRage

    A very long time ago...

    ...Shazam was only accessible via ringing a 4 digit shortcode. Specifically 2580, straight down the centre of your phone.

    This was long before the current short codes, which are all 5 digit, were a thing. They were also the only service that I was aware of that had *any* sort of short code, let alone this superbly desirable number.

    I've never been able to track down how that came about, a tiny startup offering this throw away service at 50p a go gets ownership of an extremely desirable and unique number. Someone must have pulled some strings there surely?

    Any one have any idea how that might have happened?

    1. horse of a different color

      Re: A very long time ago...

      Possibly because they sold polyphonic ringtones? I'm not sure if the mobile networks got a slice of the action from that.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: A very long time ago...

        Possibly? Was the short code only accessible from mobile networks?

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: A very long time ago...

      Voice shortcodes are run by companies who have agreements with all operators.

      Presumably one company had 2xxx or 25xx and Shazam went with them. It was easier than a premium rate number. You rang one number which was easy to remember, it lasted exactly 30 seconds, were charged a fixed amount, and everyone got their slice.

    3. Slap

      Re: A very long time ago...

      God knows how they got that short code, but back in 2002, when me and a couple of mates found out about it, we collectively blew nearly £400 on it in an evening just trying to trip it up. And we were feeding it some serious underground stuff, or at least we thought we were.

      We finally caught it out with a CD of some very dodgy Elvis covers - where the hell that CD came from nobody would admit, but at least we won, if you could call being 400 quid down winning.

      Actually, thinking about it, maybe that’s how they could afford the short code.

      1. Mark 110

        Re: A very long time ago...

        You had been smoking some shit hadn't you?

      2. LewisRage

        Re: A very long time ago...

        @Slap we did similar, although not to the tune of £400, it took a while to trip it up but I believe a white lable of Mr76ix finally defeated it.

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Did Apple mix up Shazam and Spotify?

    Possibly....

    1. Gezza

      Re: Did Apple mix up Shazam and Spotify?

      Nope - Given Apple Music is trying to muscle in on Spotify's turf I would think this is them cutting off part of Spotify's blood supply.

  5. SonofRojBlake

    Shazaming a song is a bit like clicking on a banner ad... except if you've gone to the effort of getting out your phone, starting up the app and holding your phone up to the speaker, you're by definition already interested in the song. There's therefore a pretty good chance that if the app then

    (a) successfully identifies it and

    (b) immediately offers you a seamless, INSTANT way to have your own copy on your phone for under a quid, you're actually pretty likely to say "OK". That translates into lots of referral fees pretty soon. (Where "pretty soon" appears to be nine years).

    I still think it's witchcraft, personally, but I credit it with

    (a) allowing me to identify some SERIOUSLY obscure stuff that was driving me mad and

    (b) allowing me to discover some good stuff from snippets played in the background of TV shows or over store PAs. Hope the founders can retire to an island, they deserve it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      ...immediately offers you a seamless, INSTANT way to have your own copy...

      Unfortunately 'seamless' and 'instant' are two concepts no longer present in iOS.

    2. Steve K Silver badge

      You can (optionally) leave Shazam on in the background so it is always listening/ready.

      If enabled, this gives a real-time excellent backchannel back to advertisers as to who is watching which advert and when (sometimes there are even explicit Shazam mentions in TV adverts - "Shazam to see special offer").

      Combined with knowledge of a user's mobile number (likely to be known due to many online subscriptions) then you have precisely-targeted ad feedback mechanism for sale to the highest bidder in your ad network.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Optional?

        IIRC latest Pixel phone has it as default to always listen and display playing music. The "magic" is just maths... but the person/group who found/designed/discovered/looked up someone else' PHD, did some great work at it!

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Optional?

          It defaults to that? So if you are in a bar, every 3-4 minutes you get a new notification about what song is now playing? That seems really annoying.

          While the idea of always-on listening is not a bad one - i.e. if you heard just the tail end of a song but by the time you wondered what it was and tried to Shazam it it was over you could look up what it was - having it continually displaying it is stupid.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        explicit Shazam mentions in TV adverts - "Shazam to see special offer").

        I've never seen or heard of that before. Is it something new or only in the USA or something?

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Probably only in the US. I mostly skip through the ads, but occasionally I'll see the Shazam logo and they'll invite you to Shazam the ad for some sort of deal or promotion. I never have tried it so I don't know how it works.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    android envy

    So, for a while (multiple years) now I have been able to say (or shout depending upon prevailing volume conditions) to my phone "ok google, what's this tune?" It listens for a few moments and then tells me.

    Is it just me or is Apple long overdue this catch up step?

    1. horse of a different color

      Re: android envy

      I'm pretty sure that Shazam has been integrated with Siri for a while.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: android envy

      Been available with siri for ages - probably for the same number of years as android. Siri/Alexa whatever voice assistant you choose simply passes the request to shazam and waits for the response, so either way this kind of integration is not something you would need to buy the company for.

      1. tony72

        Re: android envy

        Siri/Alexa whatever voice assistant you choose simply passes the request to shazam and waits for the response, so either way this kind of integration is not something you would need to buy the company for.

        Except that you don't get the associated data about, for example, what the customer ultimately buys from their Shazams, or where they buy it from, or how they respond to choices presented to them during the process. Remember, in this day and age, it's all about hoovering up all that lovely behavioural data people leave behind.

      2. Sandtitz Silver badge

        Re: android envy

        "Been available with siri for ages - probably for the same number of years as android."

        Track ID came with IOS 8 in 2014.

        Windows Phone 8 had the same built-in function in 2012.

        Google Now - in 2015.

        1. Mark Wilson

          Re: android envy

          Android actually had sound search in early 2013, it was just integrated into Google Now in 2015.

        2. Alan Edwards

          Re: android envy

          The Sony C905 had TrackID in 2009-ish.

          It was built in to an old Sony TV of the same sort of vintage too, must have been a Sony thing.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: android envy

        "so either way this kind of integration is not something you would need to buy the company for."

        I wonder how long other services will be able to access the APIs once Apple own it? ANd just who are the companies using Shazam as a backend? Amazon/Youtuve spat anyone?

  7. Korev Silver badge
    Meh

    Last.fm?

    Last.fm used to be great and then it got bought out and is a shadow of its former self. I hope that Shazam will avoid the same fate.

    1. Aoyagi Aichou

      Re: Last.fm?

      Unlikely. It's what (mostly American) megacorps do: they devour a company, consume only the assets that they're interest in, and then they let the organisation rot to its slow and utterly boring death through stagnation.

  8. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    Siri, unlock my phone:

    Siri: Please sing the first 8 bars of the chorus of stairway to heaven to unlock your phone:

    ~~

    Sorry, your rendition did not pass, please try again.

  9. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Bringing a bit of the 2010s to the 1990s

    It sounds like they'd use Shazam to chain Siri and iTunes together. It's mind boggling that Apple has over 30 Million songs for sale but you can't be a customer without the iTunes app. There must be some people at Apple pulling their hair right now about iTunes getting a bit fatter.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Bringing a bit of the 2010s to the 1990s

      They already do work together, so that's not the reason why they bought it.

  10. Lars Silver badge

    As everything else is probably already said should one then just add - something to sue about.

  11. 10111101101

    It's going directly into the HomePod!

  12. armyknife

    Now I know.

    Thanks for the explanation, I've never know what that icon/tile does on various phones and computers I've owned.

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