Shazam, if you’re unaware, is an ultra-cool iPhone and iPod Touch app that allows users to identify songs simply by holding up their device next to a radio or whatever happens to be playing music. For someone who’s never seen the app before, a first time demonstration is always a fun thing to do, and it often appears to work like magic. Not surprisingly, the app is extremely popular, netting over 10 million downloads since it first appeared on iTunes. And best of all, Shazam is free.
Well, sort of, anyways. Up until recently, Shazam was free and allowed users to identify any number of songs they wanted. But now, the development company behind Shazam is saying that new downloaders of the app will only be able to tag 5 songs a month. Users who want to get more use out of Shazam can opt to pay for a $5 pro version of the app, which will enable them to tag an unlimited number of songs in addition to providing them with new features such as music recommendations and enhanced search features.
If you’ve already downloaded Shazam, then you can rest easy as the new pricing structure won’t affect you.
The reasoning behind Shazam’s pricing change is obvious – it’s hard to make money with a free app. And given the value Shazam gives users, we feel that $5 is perfectly appropriate. Moreover, Shazam executive Andrew Fisher noted in an interview with the WSJ that Shazam has always charged for the app, and that the free iPhone version was merely an aberration.
Initially, Shazam anticipated that mobile advertising would help sustatin Shazam development, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that mobile advertising is either so conspicuous as to make it a nuisance or so inconspicuous as to make it easy to ignore. Betting the house on mobile advertising doesn’t really seem like a viable business model, especially for an app like Shazam where you get in and out as quickly as possible.
Will people pay $5 for Shazam? We think so. The app works, is extremely useful, and is great to show off to friends. Our only concern is that 5 songs a month for the free version seems somewhat limited, and might not be enough to fully showcase Shazam’s capabilities. What if the first 2 or 3 times a user tries to use the app they accidentally end up covering up the iPhone’s mic, or what if they try and use it in a noisy bar just as a throng of 12 sorority girls walk by? In other words, a users first go-around with Shazam is bound to have at least a few hiccups, so why not give users 10 free tags a month, or even 7?