March 5, 2015 / 12:05 PM / 5 years ago

Music app Shazam to add sights to sounds

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Shazam, the company behind the mobile phone app that enables its 100 million users to recognize music they hear, and buy the recordings, is now promising to extend the app’s scope to objects, such as products in retail outlets.

Shazam's Chief Executive Rich Riley poses after an interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona March 4, 2015. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

“Shazam is already a verb. We want to expand the universe of what you can Shazam,” Chief Executive Rich Riley told Reuters at the Mobile World Congress industry fair in Barcelona.

To fund the expansion the London-based company raised $30 million from several unidentified billionaires and financial institutions in January, coming on top of $40 million raised from Mexican telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim in 2013.

Riley said these additional funds would help the venture-capital backed company add to its 250-strong staff and sign additional partnerships with publishers and content companies.

“The famous blue button that our users love will remain on the home screen but will be able to do much more,” he said.

Shazam has evolved markedly since 1999 when it was founded, gaining popularity with its ability to recognize a piece of music with the click of a button on the phone. It now sells songs that its users identify, having secured deals with all the major streaming music services including Spotify and Deezer, and has remained among the top 25 most downloaded apps for years.

Lately it has also become a port of call for advertisers who want to find ways to instantly link up with their target audiences.

The next phase of development will be to enable phone users to Shazam actual objects, said Riley, such as a cereal packet in the grocery store to get more nutritional information or a DVD case at home to buy the movie soundtrack.

Riley also said that funding would give Shazam “lots of flexibility” to determine whether its next money-raising exercise would be on the public or private markets.

Although Shazam does not disclose its revenues or other financials, it says the latest funding round valued it at over $1 billion.

It also has the attributes of a listed company, Riley said, such as a strong brand, scale and revenue, although the company is not yet profitable since it is still seeking to grow.

“Our business model is real and developed, not to be determined like so many web apps or start-ups,” he said.

Editing by Greg Mahlich

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