January 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

Shazam Launches Music Player with Real-Time Lyrics

When we met with Shazam last November, executive vice-president of marketing David Jones told us about a plan to turn Shazam, which is widely used as a way to identify ambient music using just about any smartphone, into a full-fledged music player app.

Today, not at the Consumer Electronics Show, the company announced its release. Shazam Player (free) is now available for Apple iOS devices.

The new Shazam Player inverts the usual Shazam paradigm; instead of using the app to identify what’s playing in a restaurant, bar, club, car, or wherever, you use the app to play music yourself. Apparently, this evolution was driven in part by the fact that some people use Shazam not to identify music, but to share what they are listening to at the time, using the regular Shazam app‘s sharing feature.

Jones demonstrated the player for us, and by far the coolest feature was the ability to display lyrics in a variety of neat animation styles with a new feature called LyricPlay — particularly with the iPad, given its large screen. While using the iPad to play back music in the home, we’d be tempted to leave the lyric feature on all the time.

The app also includes bios and reviews for each artist, links to their YouTube videos, tour dates, and straight-up lyric sheets, in case you want to scan the lyrics instead of watching them play back in real time. And as with the main Shazam app, you can share what you’re listening to via Facebook or Twitter — a feature that is hardly unique to this app.

So why didn’t Shazam just add music library playback to its main app, which is used by so many people that it is the iTunes app store’s fourth-most-downloaded app of all time — of any kind (i.e. not just music apps)?

“We wanted to become your standard for playing music on your iPhone or iOS device, to wrap it in Shazam’s features, and to make the LyricPlay feature available to those” said Jones, who swore us to secrecy about this app until today. “One of the things we get a lot of praise for from our users is the simplicity: ‘I know what Shazam does: I press a button, and it tells me what [the currently-playing song] is, I can buy it, I can watch the YouTube videos, or whatever, and it works almost all the time.’”

Again, the LyricPlay feature is the main argument in favor of using Shazam Player instead of Apple’s native Music (no longer “iPod”) feature, but it only works in landscape mode, so if you have an iPad stand with a charger on the bottom, lyrics will display sideways, which is sort of a bummer. However, the upside (so to speak) of this configuration is that if you play music with Shazam Player and use its AirPlay feature to send the audio and video to your home entertainment system, you’ll be able to display lyric animations on your television in real time as you listen through your nice speakers.

If you have that sort of set-up, we heartily recommend this app.

(Image courtesy of Shazam)

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