The music-identification business suddenly has an heir-apparent, as relative newcomer SoundHound has made a giant stride toward the throne currently occupied by Shazam.
In news that will grab the attention of every discerning business development associate, chief revenue officer and chief technology officer, SoundHound — long regarded as Shazam’s much younger cousin ‑has announced that its app usage has just crossed the 100 million mark. This came three days after Shazam announced, in a blaze of publicity, that its app was now being used by 250 million people. Considering that SoundHound users numbered just 2 million in 2010, this is some mean feat.
A stratospheric rise
While both figures are remarkable (Shazam’s app is now being used on 30 percent of the 900 million activated Android and iOS devices), SoundHound’s rise does seem the more spectacular. Appearing in 2005, six year’s after Shazam, its first five years brought distinctly underwhelming growth. But since a re-brand in 2010, it has skyrocketed – all without the use of expensive TV partnerships and with a staff group comprising just 32 people at the start of 2012.
It’s the technology, stupid
So, what’s the secret of SoundHound’s success? In a word: technology. In the digital age, getting the technology right can make the difference between success and failure. One of the key reasons behind Facebook’s plummeting overall value lies in its stuttering efforts to develop effective mobile technology for millions of users who want to access their social networking site on the hoof. Similarly, the eye-watering 60 percent nosedive in market value experienced by Dell and HP can largely be attributed to their failure to keep abreast of the latest technological innovations, from hand-held touch-screen gadgets to cloud computing.
SoundHound is proving itself superlatively savvy in its embrace of cutting-edge technology. Its unique “Sound2Sound” technology doesn’t rely on traditional sound-to-text techniques to match music to; it employs sound-to-sound techniques instead, enabling users to simply sing the song they want to identify into their smartphones and be guaranteed an accurate result. And the company owns all the technology powering its apps. It may be a good way behind Shazam right now, but future greatness seems well within its grasp.