‘What’s that song?’ Shazam has been naming tunes since 2001. Photograph: GS/Gallery Stock
The normal route is for a TV show to build an audience and then launch an app as they’ve been told it extends their “engagement”. Shazam, the music recognition app, could have just flipped that thinking to become the first app to be made into a TV show.
Beat Shazam has been picked up by Fox in the US where it will be produced by British executive Mark Brunett, and is basically a modern spin on Name That Tune, where contestants play against the music identification app to try and identify a song first. It has been a long and curious journey for Shazam but, unlike many of its peers, it is still going after 15 years, which is several lifetimes in digital music.
Back in 2001, the only real use for your Nokia 3310, beyond calling and texting people, was playing Snake. That January, I got a demo of an early version of Shazam at Midem, the annual music industry conference in Cannes, where the developers held up their handset in a crowded bar as music played over the PA and, five seconds later, an SMS arrived telling us what the song was and who was singing it. It worked on proprietary acoustic fingerprinting technology and remains the most jaw-dropping deployment of nascent software I have ever experienced. It felt like magic...