Shazam debuts US$5 iPhone app, limits free version to 5 song tags per month

“The makers of Shazam, the hugely popular song-identifier for the iPhone, launched a $5 premium version Monday and said future versions of its free app will be limited to five song identifications a month,” Niraj Sheth reports for The Wall Street Journal.

Shazam, which names songs by listening to a clip that’s playing on the radio or stereo, is one of the most popular cellphone applications to date — and one of the rare few to turn a profit. It’s been downloaded more than 10 million times and has sold out its inventory of advertising space, according to maker Shazam Entertainment,” Sheth reports.

Shazam had hoped that mobile advertising and iTunes downloads would sustain the free app, but with the recession, that has not happened,” Sheth reports.

“Existing Shazam users, however, can keep using their free, unlimited versions,” Sheth reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We were going to say, “Looks like we’ll be using Midomi more often,” but we’re happy to see that existing Shazam users, however, can keep using their free, unlimited versions. We were going to recommend Midomi as a possible alternative, but then we checked and that formerly-free app is now going for $4.99, too.


  1. ok, now there needs to be a way in iTunes to always avoid upgrades for identified apps… course next full firmware update will probably “break” the tech behind these types of apps, so you will be forced to upgrade


    still… love the Shazam app

  2. This is the start of the wave of charging for apps. I’ve been amazed at the number of apps which are free, obviously depending upon ad support for profit. However, put a small price on a well-done app, and it will sell.

    Plus, you won’t have to support a bunch of whiny freeloaders. You’ll just get the occasional review claiming nothing about your app was worth $0.99.

    The thing everyone has to remember is that most apps for your Mac/PC, and especially games for any platform, cost far more than apps on iTunes. Let’s just hope it stays that way.

  3. I have no problem with this. It’s a one-time fee for unlimited use. Cheap!

    Personally, though I installed it, I’ve only used it a couple times. Where does one hear unidentified music any more? I haven’t listened to the radio in a decade!

  4. So the will raise the price on the Free app they have now to the 4.99.
    And then they will release a new Shazam Lite which will have the 5 times limit.

    So i see it.
    Otherwise i don’t know how they will differ between the new users and the old users who can keep the unlimited tries.

  5. IMO it’s worth it, this app is one of the most amazing things I demo on my iPhone. I am still looking for a decent desktop equivalent. I will say, I would like to see some features or accuracy added for the 4.99.

  6. @ jjjj (and anyone else who thinks everything should be free)

    How is $5 greedy? Do you like to get paid for the work you do or do you work for free? If you work for free then I am hiring. All the whining about app store prices is pathetic and it’s beginning to drive me (and others I am sure) crazy. 99% of the apps are not expensive. Complaining about a dollar or 5 dollars… really? If that is expensive to you, then why the heck did you buy an iPhone?

  7. I expect this is a trend. We’ll see (valuable) apps going from free or really cheap (0.99-1.99) to some price that allows them to keep their doors open. Eventually, people have to eat.

    Also, I’m sure mobile advertising’s effectiveness has steadily declined… just like browser ads … stark decline in click-through rates… that’s why we have these annoying more obtrusive ads.

    For me, Shazam is pretty cool, but I’ve used it about 5 times in the last year. And Midomi about the same. When they eventually, stop keeping the original free one up with hardware/OS requirements (it’ll come), the “new” free 5 times/month one will work fine for me.

  8. I don’t like the idea of developers offering free apps, taking over the market and then starting to charge for them, BUT…

    Shazam gets a pass to do whatever they want in my book. The app is that good, and ridiculously worth more than $5.

    Also, I think Shazam is being sincere, they aren’t just delivering the bits for the application. They run a service, and that service costs money. Ads and commission aren’t enough, so they’re realizing they need to charge. I’m ok with that, especially since the free version still gives 5 songs a month.

  9. I don’t use the app more than 5 times a month, but I have to tell you I won a $10 bet because of the app. Someone was trying to convince me that the song on the radio was someone other than Evanescence. Pulled out my iPhone, fired up Shazam, won the bet.

    So, I’ll take $5 out of my proceeds to buy it if I must.

    I really don’t get you guys. You seem all right about Shazam charging $5.00 for the app, but get all indignant about the WSJ charging for an online version of the paper.

    It’s all about economics. If people want Shazam, they’ll buy it. If they love it, they’ll pay more. Shazam has to figure out the best price that maximizes revenues. I’m a bit concerned that they’ve sold out advertising space and yet can’t turn a profit.

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