Shazam's CMO on how the app is expanding beyond music

Shazam's Patricia Parra speaks to Lindsay Stein about brand partnerships and how educating users about new capabilities on the app is a key challenge.

Shazam CMO Patricia Parra
Shazam CMO Patricia Parra

What have you changed in terms of marcomms since joining last summer?
Previously, my role didn’t exist, so everything we’ve done in the past year is new. We’ve consolidated a lot of groups under marketing and communications and that group is responsible for driving the brand vision and crafting the marcomms strategy.

We’re also responsible for monthly active user growth, as well as overall engagement, and we do that through our social channels, CRM, PR, creative services, research, and customer service.

Why did you decide to join Shazam?
What I love about Shazam, and any organization I have worked for in the past [such as Hulu], is that we play in this area at the intersection between technology and entertainment.

Shazam is on a brand journey as it moves away from being a utility or name-that-tune function to being a product that is a part of everyday life for our users. That is exciting to me and a great challenge.

How many people are in the marketing and communications department?
We have 20-plus and are continuing to grow. By the end of Q2, we should have about 30 to 35 people. Our global head of comms, Brendan Lewis, is looking to expand. We also have a strong social team.

We are very focused on CRM. It’s a big channel for us with all of our emails and push notifications. The creative services team is always expanding as we put out more innovative solutions for our brand partners. Research and customer service are other areas where we are expanding. 

What kind of brand partnerships does Shazam have?
We continue to work with multiple brands. In the NCAA Final Four tournament in April, there was a Coke Zero advertisement on TV and you could Shazam it. The result on the phone was a continuation of what was being seen on TV.

It was an integrated, seamless experience, and at the end you got a coupon to try a free Coke Zero. We’re always looking to provide innovative solutions such as that to brand partners.

Shazam expanded into TV in 2014. So what’s the next big thing?          
We’ve expanded into retail and partnered with Mood Media to deliver Shazam in-store experiences. For example, we have executions in Office Depots and the Nike store in Australia. So if you walk into the Nike store, you can use Shazam to find out the song that is playing, but also get a customized experience that Nike wants its customers to have, whether it’s exclusive content or a coupon.

We’ve also expanded into cinemas and partnered with NCM Media Networks to be part of their FirstLook pre-show experience to make that content Shazam-enabled.

Where do you see the brand in three to five years?
Ideally, the whole world will be Shazam-enabled in that time. We have this vision of connecting our users to the world around them, and we want to do that in a very frictionless way.

For instance, imagine walking into Grand Central Terminal in New York City and being able to get a Shazam result, not only for exclusive offers, but for anything at your fingertips.

What marcomms challenges do you face?
Our biggest challenge is educating our audience about Shazam’s additional capabilities outside of our core music identification use. We will always continue to go deep into music because that’s our DNA. As we expand beyond music, the challenge is educating people who have used our app for years to think of Shazam as a regular part of their daily lives.

Tell us about the app’s visual recognition element, which will launch this year.
Essentially, it’s being able to use your camera and Shazam to visually recognize print goods. For example, people will be able to Shazam a movie poster and be brought to the film’s trailer video, so you get sight, sound, and motion as your result, which you can share with friends.

You could also purchase the movie ticket then and there, so it’s bridging print and digital through Shazam.

We’re going to go wide with it. We will start with entertainment and music because that’s our bread and butter, but the vision is to connect people with the world around them. We don’t want to limit ourselves.

How do you work with musical talent?
Artists love to use Shazam to drop exclusive tracks. Last year, singer Demi Lovato partnered with us to figure out what locations she was going to select for her European tour based on our chart functionality, which allows you to see real-time trending Shazams. Artists are using the app as a platform to reach their user base. 

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