If you know your way around the music industry, you’ve probably heard about Shazam, the mobile (and desktop) application that allows you to identify a song from a ten-second clip.
As an artist who is just starting out, it’s important to use every means available to gain recognition, and that’s why being in the Shazam database is such a great tool.But how do you get music into Shazam, and how does it all work? Well, read on to find out!
What is Shazam?
Let’s start with a brief history of the service.
First launched in the UK in 2002, it began as a number dialed from a mobile phone–the call audio was recorded, the call ended automatically after 30 seconds, and a text was sent to the user with the song info.
Later, hyperlinks were added to the texts, leading the user to a site where the song could be downloaded.
Two years later, in 2004, Shazam launched in the US on the AT&T network in conjunction with the now-defunct Musicphone.
Free at launch, AT&T stated that it would, in the future, charge $0.99 per use.
Fast-forward to the smartphone revolution, and Shazam rolled out on the iOS App Store in July 2008.
Once the song was identified, the app offered a link to the iTunes store where the song could be purchased and downloaded.
Later that same year, Shazam launched on Google Play, and in 2009, became available on the Windows Mobile Marketplace.
By September of 2014, when Apple debuted iOS 8, Shazam had been integrated into Siri, so that when you asked, “what song is playing?” Siri had an intelligent answer.
In December 2017, Apple declared its intention to acquire Shazam–for somewhere around $400 million dollars.
Finally, in September of 2018, the deal went through, and Apple officially owned Shazam.
Apple made digital music downloads easy, convenient, and cheap enough to do the legal way, so it’s no surprise that they wanted to acquire a major means of musical discovery and route it straight to their own online music store.
How Does Shazam Identify Songs?
The software behind the song-matching analyzes the ‘fingerprint’ of the songs in its catalog against a sample uploaded by a user.
Every song in Shazam’s vast database has been converted to a digital ‘spectrogram’.
This graph measures frequency spectra along a timeline–the length of the song–and uses these data points to find a match to any ten-second sample you send it.
Not only that, but it can distinguish between multiple versions of a song, such as covers by different bands.
Of course, the song has to exist in Shazam’s catalog for it to be an available result, and that’s why sending Shazam your tracks is so important.
The app helps you find artists on Google Play (if using Android) and play their songs and music videos on YouTube.
You can find and buy tickets for any tours the artists are conducting, and the app now reads visual info like posters and scans QR codes.
With Auto Shazam, the app runs in the background to identify songs even if you’ve closed the screen and aren’t actively using it.
You can also share your discoveries to social media to let your friends know what you’re Shazam’n!
How Do You Get Songs on Shazam?
Songs must be uploaded into the Shazam catalog to be available for matching against user samples.
Some streaming and download services, such as iTunes, make their entire catalog available to Shazam to analyze and fingerprint, for obvious reasons.
If a song that Apple sells isn’t in Shazam’s database, it won’t lead you to the song for downloading, and Apple loses money.
For that reason, Google Play also adds its catalog to Shazam.
So, if your music is distributed through a label and sent out to the digital distributors like Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify, and so on, it should also end up in Shazam’s database.
But what if you’re an indie artist, just starting out? How do you get your tracks recognized and fingerprinted by Shazam without going the mainstream distribution route?
Well, it’s simpler than you may think.
One way is to suggest tracks to Shazam directly, on their website.
Give them as much info as possible for a song that you tried to Shazam and the app failed to identify, and they’ll try to add it to their catalog.
But by far the easiest way is to do it through your music distributor or aggregator.
Make sure they handle Shazam submissions, and that the option is covered when you choose your distribution package.
Then, double-check that your tracks were sent to Shazam for uploading, and you can even Shazam your own work to make sure it displays properly when identified.
As mentioned in a previous article, aggregators take care of sending your music out to digital platforms and lend legitimacy to your submissions.
No matter what service you use, be sure that Shazam is included, and remember to select that option during sign-up!
How Do You Add Song Info and Lyrics?
Just having your song in Shazam’s database doesn’t guarantee that all of your album, artist, and track info populates correctly in the match results.
If someone reports an issue with your music, or if you find one by Shazam’ing your own work, don’t worry!
You can fix that easily, as per the guidelines on Shazam’s own website:
Artist bios on Shazam come from ROVI, so if you want to get that onto Shazam, create an account with them and update your info.
Shazam will then pull your info from AllMusic’s site and your updates will be visible when anyone Shazams your work.
Having your lyrics available while playing songs increases listener engagement by bringing across your message, or making it easier to sing along.
So if your lyrics are displaying incorrectly or not at all, you probably want to fix that.
More About What Shazam Does (and Doesn’t) Do
Shazam is not a streaming service, so it doesn’t pay out royalties, either to you or your distributor.
It doesn’t allow downloads or play any music for you.
What it DOES do is save a list of your songs and link up to major streaming and download services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music, allowing you to add tracks to your favorite playlists and stations, or purchase and download the track.
It lets you favorite artists and discover music.
What that means for you as an independent or up-and-coming artist is increased exposure, recognition, and looking more professional.
To be on Shazam, you have to be published, so that fact alone gives you some credibility.
If somebody hears your music playing but can’t access track and artist info, Shazam’ing it lets them save the info for later and may lead to them streaming or downloading your song.
Now that the Shazam Auto feature allows the app to identify songs even when not running, users will be able to see a list of every song they encountered throughout the day, and browse them again at will.
You can check whether your song (and related info) is in the Shazam database by using the search bar on their homepage. Then, if anything is off about the song info, you can take the above steps to fix it.
GigFaster, Gig Wider
Here at GigFaster, we work with you to get your music into the world, where others can appreciate it.
Whether you want to focus on playing live or getting your music out through a label, we help you compose and keep track of your pitches, line up venues for your next gig, and provide a database of resources to help you advance your musical career.
Adding your work to Shazam is a valuable addition to your artist portfolio.
Imagine that someone walks past your live performance, with no idea who you are, but they like your sound–so they whip out their phone and hit the Shazam app.
Instantly, they find out who you are, where you’re playing next, and the album name associated with the song.
They can find out where to stream and download your songs and follow you for updates on your next releases.
That’s the power of Shazam. And with GigFaster, we help you expand your audience reach so that someone can ‘Shazam’ you.
Come see what GigFaster can offer to new and established artists alike, by signing up for a free trial and getting a feel for all of our services.
We’re confident that you’ll love it.