Chris Barton is the founder of the wildly popular app Shazam.
Shazam basically can detect the name of any song you hear (other than live music) whether it was on the radio, and without having to know the name of a radio station. It would work anywhere, a bar, a club, a cafe, a movie theater, a retail store, anywhere you heard music. and tell you the name of the song as well as the artist and link to where you can buy it on iTunes as well as to other music services.
Mixergy.com, published an interview they had with Mr. Barton whose background and inspiration for the App came from 900 numbers and premium texting programs. In both cases the phone carrier pays the information provider a portion of the revenue it collects from users of the service.
Here is part of the very interesting interview:
“Shazam, they’ve been out, they drive over $300 million worth of music sales today on an annual basis, so that makes them one of the leading sellers of digital music, and I think selling almost six or seven percent of digital music globally.
Interviewer: Oh, wow. What about the whole 900 business back then? If I remember right, weren’t there companies that said, “If you call up to get this, we’ll give it to you,” and you had to use a 900 number, which meant that you’re going to pay two to five bucks for it?
Chris: Absolutely. There were companies doing that, that were pursuing those types of businesses, and that actually became an inspiration for us for Shazam. Something that wasn’t being pursued with some of the radio type things I mentioned. What we decided to do was find a close analogy to 900 numbers, which was in a 900 number you’re being charged for the phone call.”
But there was another technology that was not available in the U.S. at the time but was available in Europe where we launched which was called Premium SMS, and that was basically receiving an SMS to your phone, but also along with it sort of a premium charge to your phone.
That’s how Shazam first launched. In the UK market, our first market, you’d have to pay 50 pence, the local currency, for every time that you identify a song.”
The number they used in the UK, was “258…the concept was that it’s the only four-digit number that’s in a straight line on the mobile phone. So, once you realize that, then you think, OK, I’ll never forget that again, straight down the middle of the phone”
“Shazam has over 500 million users of all time, all time, over 100 million monthly active users. It’s a global brand, and I haven’t made a dime out of the company yet.
Andrew: I see. You still own shares in the business, you haven’t made a dime, and there was talk of it going public, but it doesn’t look like anytime soon, right?
Chris: Yeah, exactly. You’d have to have your exit, obviously, and so, yeah, there hasn’t been an exit, but the company’s doing really well. I think at the last valuation that was sort of announced in the press or indicative valuation was around the 500 million mark. So, I mean, it’s become a really highly valuable business and obviously has its sights on much higher values. So, it’s definitely on the upward trend.”