The incredible story of Shazam, the app for recognizing music par excellence, before it was a payment service with calls and SMS

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the incredible story of shazam the app for recognizing music.webp.webp.webp
the incredible story of shazam the app for recognizing music.webp.webp.webp

quick anecdote grandmother chive: When I was little and heard a song I liked on the radio, I crossed my fingers that the announcer would say its name later. If that wasn’t the case, bad luck: wait for the next time they played it. When the Internet came into my life, I just had to be able to memorize a phrase and search for it so that Google would return the lyrics, the title, and who performed it. Was song recognition in its original mode.

I can’t remember when Shazam arrived on my radar and on my phone and everything became much simpler: a tap on the big button, a few seconds of listening and that’s it. By magic you already had everything you needed to not lose sight (and hearing) of the song. But Shazam was the tip of the iceberg (the most mainstream tip) of a small but important technological advance: song recognition.

Before being an app, Shazam was an SMS service

Apple bought Shazam in 2017 Nowadays, not only can you use this famous application to recognize songs, but you already have it integrated into iOS so that any iPhone can do it without installing anything else or using the Google application, which comes by default on Android but you can install also on Apple phones. Or what is the same: that You no longer need an extra recognition app on your mobile. That said, it is not the only app with this function: there are others like Deezer, SoundHound or Musixmatch, if you are looking for alternatives.

But before Shazam became the song identification app par excellence, the world of telecommunications and phones were very different back in the 1990s. two thousand. To put ourselves in context, those were the days of sending SMS to receive your new ringtone and yes, To recognize songs, text messages were first used.

To give some context: if you wanted to know the title of a song, you had to call a phone number and the answer came in the form of an SMS. And no, this tool could not be enjoyed in Spain, since it was only launched in the United Kingdom. The most curious thing of all is that that was also Shazam.

Don’t call him Shazam, say Twofiveeightzero

Servidora has experienced what it is like to love a song that you just learned and not have a way to identify it so as not to lose it in the middle of adolescence, so I felt it as a kind of musical love crush on a summer night when there is no way to regain contact to repeat. Ah, that fury of youth. That’s why I can empathize so well with Chris Barton, Philip Inghelbrecht, Avery Wang and Dhiraj Mukherjee, four young people so frustrated by not knowing what song they were listening to that it led them to develop a solution in 2002.

After months of work, they launched ‘2580’, a music recognition service for mobile phones (no smartphones) that worked as follows: you could call that number, bring the phone closer to the source that was broadcasting the song and after half a minute of listening, the call was cut off. After, You received an SMS with the name of the song and its artistas well as a link to download it.

Simple but effective (if you got half a minute of playback and reasonably good sound). The key was an algorithm implemented by Avery Wang that took into account the identification of unique sound patterns embedded in each musical track.

As a matter of fact, they first started with classical music and then expanded genres, something important to reach all audiences. Before, Twofiveeightzero (that’s how he was known) had to face two important obstacles: the first was reaching agreements with record companies and the second, its price. We are talking about one pound per consultation.

So when the Android Market and iOS App Store application stores were launched in 2008, the Doscincoochocero team decided to give it a twist and turn it into an application with a name with a little more appeal: Shazam. No more calls, reducing the process to a simple button. What happened next

Cover | Xataka Mobile and SMS icons created by Vectors Market – Flaticon

In Xataka Mobile | Not everything is Shazam: five alternative applications to recognize the song that is playing

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise