The art of smart content discovery

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The type of apps that always seem to bedazzle the first time user are music recognition apps like SonyEricsson TrackID, Shazam or SoundHound. All these services basically work in the same manner. They enable you to sample some seconds from a song you are listening to and within a few seconds compare the distinct acoustic pattern to a large music library and provide you with the details you are seeking.

Seen from a marketing perspective this is a brillinat piece of technology. It helps people in an elegant way, when their attention and emotions towards a particular piece of music is at it’s highest, to provide information that helps the user identify the title or artist which they are interested in, and even by an additional click guide them straight into a digital store (e.g Apple iTunes, Amazon etc.) where they can purchase the newly identified tune .

So someone created a powerful music recognition tool, but is there any money in providing this kind of service? My guess is that they might be one of the very few capable of financially benefitting from for instance Apple’s iTunes affiliate program. Apple only provides a lousy 4 percent kickback to marketeers managing to redirect customers into iTunes and purchase content. This will benefit the marketeer with $ 0.05 for every purchased $ 1.29 song, and $ 0.56 for every purchased $ 13.99 album. The key obviously has to do with scale.

In mid May this year Shazam announced that they had 75 million users of their service with a growth of 25 million the past 6 months. CEO, Andrew Fisher, stated that he was confident they would manage to grow their user base to 100 million by the end of the year. The news came out as the company also revealed that it had identified more than one billion songs in the ten years since it first launched. In January this year, Shazam said that its mobile apps were generating 260 000 track purchases a day, through songs tagged by its users. Analysis from Billboard at the time estimated that this meant Shazam was responsible for 6.3 percent of all global single-track downloads.

Time will show what the future holds for Shazam and its likens but they are allready thinking of new ways for us to engage with their technology. Shazam stated in an interview with the New York Times that their intention with their iPad app is to attract and capitalize on the television-viewing audience.

The battle of who becomes the preferred music recognition engine intensified this week when SoundHound and HTC announced a global partnership enabling SoundHound to be preinstalled on HTC devices, starting with the HTC Desire HD and HTC Desire Z.

Anyhow, these music recognition services show that aiding end users in discovering content can pay off… if you manage to scale… even if you don’t own the shop itself. That should give everyone building an app store (especially Telcos) something to think about…

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