As the music discovery industry continues to grow, so too are the companies that remain at the forefront of said industry. For example, Shazam, which has had tons of success over the past few years with its music discovery platform (to the point where its founders appeared in a 2012 Super Bowl commercial), recently announced that its app had been used by 250 million people and will be expanding its TV efforts beyond just its current partnerships by creating to create a more involved and comprehensive television experience.
Having tagged itself as the world’s leading media discovery company, Shazam allows users to share music and entertainment content across many different mobile devices and the Internet. But essentially, the bread and butter of the company is still the music discovery. And when you consider that to date there have been 900 million iOS and Android devices to be activated, and that Shazam is on close to 30 % of those devices, the company has built a strong reputation and brand for itself for people that love to discover and share new music and media at the drop of a hat, which seems to be just about everybody.
But Shazam isn’t the only company that is making waves in the music discovery technology space. Right on its heels is SoundHound, a company launched only 7 years ago, just recently reached its own milestone of 100 million users. More importantly, SoundCloud, from several reports, reached 2 million users in 2010, and by the time October 2011 rolled around, had already jumped to 50 Million users. So in the course of over a year and a half, the music discovery start up gained over 40 million new users, and between October of last year and now, basically doubled its user base. By all accounts, that’s pretty amazing.
And even before the news surrounding SoundHound reaching 50 million users, they had already secured a partnership with Spotify, allowing European users to instantly access the latter’s catalogue of over 15 million tracks. And with all of the publicity and intrigue that continues to surround Spotify, I’d say that SoundHound has also placed itself in a prime position to duke it out with Shazam for the title of world’s leading music and media discovery too.
Currently, Shazam has more years in the game, and therefore has a little more clout with big brands, advertisers and big media companies. And at first glance, this would definitely give them the edge in terms of staking a claim as the leader in music discovery. It would seem that Shazam wants to be the YouTube for mobile devices, where users are able to find the latest and greatest in the content that they want the most, at exactly the time that they want it.
But being the biggest doesn’t always mean you’re automatically the best, especially these days, where underdogs left and right, especially in the music tech space, are winning every day. And in this case, SoundHound seem as if it may be that underdog. The swiftness that their fan base seems to have grown after a few years of slow growth is something that companies and start-ups from all kinds of sectors hope and wish for.
What seems to be also in SoundHounds’ favor are three things that seem to be helping it remain as a viable competitor to Shazam. 1) SoundHound has a patented “Sound to Sound” technology that searches sound against sound and bypasses the traditional sound-to-text format; 2) SoundHound actually owns the patent on this technology, along with all of the technology that powers its applications, including three voice recognition patents; and 3) SoundHound reports that it has an average rate of 200,000 downloads per day on both iOS and Android devices, and could very well be growing.
Additionally, while Shazam looks to move into other spaces, namely television, SoundHound is currently focusing on creating a better user experience in terms of music search and discovery, song recognition, instant lyric display, music downloading and playback, and being able to expand artists’ reach through integrations with Twitter and Facebook.
So the game has been set and the two sumo-sized titans of music discovery seem to be in their respective corners of the ring. And yes, at this point, SoundHound’s arms might still be a little too short to box with the Shazam juggernaut, but if their exponential growth continues they way that it has been, we could all be singing a different tune very shortly. That is, if we’re not all busy trying to discover new tunes from our smartphones.