Shazam’s Steve Sos explains the backend workings of the new Today Network Top 20 show

SCA’s new Shazam countdown show is a technology leader as radio experiments with integration with smartphones, now carried in everyone’s pockets.

But how does Shazam work and how will it benefit the new night program?

After talking to Dave Cameron about the new show, we wanted to know more, so radioinfo’s Steve Ahern talked to Steve Sos, Shazam’s Regional Sales Director for the APAC.

“It’s a world first,” says Sos. “It’s a concept that puts listeners in control. It will provide a list of the top 20 songs from the song discovery activity of people in Australia… a playlist by and for the masses. It is giving control back to consumers.”

Sos says Australians are now “always on” through their smart phones, and “song discovery” activity has become an important part of their day. Shazam has recognised this by integrating Shazam music identification into the iPhone 6 through Siri. In the new iPhone, users can just ask Siri ‘what is that song?’ and it will tell them, using Shazam.

How does Shazam work?

“We call it accoustic fingerprint technology. The microphone picks up spectral peaks of audio and matches them to the 30 million tracks in our database, within 1 to 3 seconds.”

The latest version of Shazam also goes one step further, giving consumers the option to allow Shazam to be “always listening.” The always listening function will provide more data to the Today network because, if users select the function, it will identify all the songs they hear during the day and report those titles to the show.

Could there be privacy concerns with such a function? “There are no privacy concerns,” says Sos. “The only things that the app recognises are the songs that are matched to our database.” He says the app won’t recognise your barking dog or an argument with your spouse, and that users are informed about the function when the agree to activate the app.

The big picture business strategy for Shazam involves three elements: music discovery, in-app mobile media and media content discovery.

Music Discovery delivers about $300 million dollars to Shazam because the app facilitates 7-10% of the world’s online music sales. In-app mobile media and content are also money earners for Shazam.

The opportunities for advertisers to exploit Shazam are huge. If you hear an ad on radio or tv you can Shazam the audio and the app will present you with options to buy, participate in competitions or interact with the company in some other way.

On Steve Sos’s suggestion I accessed the Shazam APAC site and tried it. When I played an ad for tourism the app listened, found the associated promo microsite, and took me to it within the Shazam app. It also worked well for a Heineken Beer promo and other products.


Sos is enthusiastic about the benefits that such technology can bring to the new SCA show, to advertisers and to Shazam, and is looking forward to the success his company’s association with SCA will bring.

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