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Shazam is experimenting with distributing exclusive songs for users

Shazam, the app known best for helping identify songs, is trying its hand at music distribution, according to a report today from The Wall Street Journal. Artist management firm Mick Management, in partnership with Sony's RCA Records, decided to mail out 500 postcards to fans of folk singer Ray LaMontagne, whose new album Ouroboros releases on March 4th. By aiming your phone camera at the card with the Shazam app open, the postcard recipients are able to follow LaMontagne on Shazam's app and gain access to an exclusive song.

It's an interesting shift for the service, which has earned money mostly by referring people to iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify to buy a song or subscription, a cut of which goes to Shazam. Although Shazam was founded in 1999, it became a smartphone staple with the introduction of Apple's App Store in 2008. It has since grown to a $1 billion company with more than 120 million monthly active users. Like music subscription service Tidal, which yesterday streamed a new Rihanna track not available on YouTube or Spotify, Shazam hopes exclusivity can bring more people to the app, at least for more than just the time it takes to tag a song. "I think this will give people an idea on how to use us as an engagement tool," Greg Glenday, Shazam's chief revenue officer, told the WSJ.

Update at 7PM ET, Thursday, January 28th: Clarified that Mick Management mailed the postcards in partnership with Sony's RCA Records.