Shazam just signed a big deal with musicians like Pitbull and Calvin Harris to sell more ads

 Wiz Khalifa performs onstage at the iHeartRadio Live P.C. Richard & Son Theatre on August 13, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Clear ChannelWiz Khalifa performs onstage at the iHeartRadio Live P.C. Richard & Son Theatre on August 13, 2014 in New York City.

Shazam, the popular music recognition app that’s reinventing itself as an advertising company, is hoping to boost its advertising business through the launch of new social features that let people “follow” musicians.

A raft of big names including Pitbull, Calvin Harris, Wiz Khalifa, Coldplay, One Direction and Usher are launching profiles on the mobile app, letting fans to see what they’re listening to.

Shazam’s app recognises the wavelengths of tracks to tell users the name of the song they’re listening to. It’s incredibly handy and hugely popular — the app has over 600 million users worldwide who Shazam 20 million tracks a day.

The company is automatically signing up users who have Shazamed artists on the app to follow those musicians, so people like Calvin Harris and Avicii will already have over 40 million followers each. No money is changing hands, but Shazam is hoping the deal will help it earn more from ads.

Executive chairman Andrew Fisher told Business Insider: “For us as a company it’s beneficial because we’ll be able to increase the number of users, the number of page views, and therefore the amount of advertising inventory we can monetise.”

Shazam's new follow artist featureShazamPitbull’s profile on Shazam’s new follow artist feature.

Shazam, which has a significant office in West London, began life as a pretty simple app but has been expanding into advertising over the last few years, letting users scan the audio on TV ads and even use visual recognition for products.

It recently became one of the few UK grown $US1 billion (£649 million) private tech companies.

Fisher says: “Our strategy is to make it easier for people to engage with the world around them. We’ve been very focused on finding more reasons for people to use Shazam.”

The incentive for artists who are signing up is reaching a huge audience who are clearly interested in their music.

Fisher says: “It’s mutually beneficial. We account now for over 10% of recorded music sales worldwide. We know that people are prepared to pay for music. As someone discovers a track, they’re prepared to buy it and that benefits the artist and all stakeholders in the music industry.”

Shazam sells music through a partnership with Apple’s iTunes, offering users the option to buy in the app. Fisher says: “It’s very significant distribution. This is just taking it a step further and extending that relationship.”

The follow feature is similar to the one offered by Spotify, but Fisher says the two aren’t competing with each other. Shazam has a deal with the Swedish company to offer streaming through its app, as well as partnerships with YouTube and Rdio.

Social media is a pretty crowded space but Fisher thinks Shazam’s new feature will find an audience, saying: “This is the music that artists are actually Shazaming because it inspires their work. That’s very different from the type of social content you might get from a Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. It’s a different type of information exchange.”

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