An interview with Shazam’s new CEO Rich Riley

By Natan Edelsburg 

There are over quarter billion people who have Shazam installed on their mobile device. This astounding number instantly makes Shazam a big player in the second screen market. When Shazam enabled TV recognition in September they made a big splash and instantly interested advertisers in seeing what they can do. Now, the mobile-first company has just announced a new CEO, Rich Riley to help take them into the now more mature mobile-first environment. We interviewed Riley, the former EVP of the Americas for Yahoo! about the importance of TV and what to look out for in the future as Shazam grows. 

Andrew Fisher, who has been CEO of Shazam since 2005 will move to a new full-time roles as Executive Chairman. Riley’s experience is robust. “Most recently, Riley was EVP Americas for Yahoo! where he was responsible for billions of dollars of revenue and managed a team of thousands, overseeing sales, account management, ad operations, B2B marketing, research and business development across the US, Canada and LatAm.”

Lost Remote: Why did you decide to join Shazam?
Rich Riley: I spent a long long time at Yahoo. When I left last fall, I looked at lots of opportunities, big companies and small companies. Shazam has a phenomenal global, consumer brand. It’s really loved. It has incredible consumer metrics. Adding two million new customers a week. That was exciting. [It’s] one of the true mobile first, mobile DNA companies, that’s really been at the forefront. To have an opportunity to join a company like Shazam with such a great brand and team – I’m really looking forward to it.

LR: Why is TV important for Shazam?
Riley: Shazam has deep roots in music discovery. Extending that into the TV is very natural. The consumer reality is that people are on their smart devices. There are a lot of different things they’re doing. Shazam is a very natural way to connect with what they’re watching, using content on the show, to get a discount, or further engage with the brand, it’s a very convenient push the button connection. I think it’s very natural, and the data is proving.

LR: How are brands using Shazam?
Riley: I spent a decent amount of time this week with some of the largest brands in the world. What you hear is a desire for them to connect what they’re doing to mobile devices. They think of Shazam as a platform for mobile activation. If someone wants to engage further with their content. That’s very much in the brand’s interest to do that, such brand awareness and distribution. Consumers that have Shazam on their device and know that they’re one button away. That’s very attractive and a convenient way to engage further.

LR: Are the music and TV divisions separate within Shazam?
Riley: We very much think of it as single app and experience, we’re all working to provide the Shazam application on their device, engage with music and TV and some day much, much more. We’re not trying to separate that experience. Within the company we have specialists, we have people who specialize working with TV or programming. We really are very unified and that spans across other forms of media.

LR: Is social important?
Riley: Very important – what Shazam provides is inherently social. TV shows, TV commercials –  one of the most natural things that consumers do is share that. Share that with their friends and with their network – we want to be very social enabled and that is part of our value proposition to brands and TV programmers – helping people share when they like a show or a commercial, one or two clicks away from sharing that.

LR: What are your own personal favorite social platforms?
Riley: I use most of them. I think a lot of individuals have different purposes. Twitter is a very effective way to read and share news. Facebook is more personal and LinkedIn is a great way to stay in contact with your professional network. I use them each in a distinct way. We want to let people engage with social how they want to. Current leaders, future leaders, we want to make it very easy.

LR: What should we look forward?
Riley: You’re going to see us continuing to provide an incredible music experience. More songs in our index, returning results faster, easier to share, richer content and more information around a piece of music or a band. To think of Shazam going well beyond just identifying and on the TV side, recognizing the vast majority of shows and TV commercials – that’s step 1. Step 2 –  continue to provide a fantastic consumer experience. Even if you don’t see a Shazam logo or call to action, we do have content around that show.

LR: Anything else?
Riley: It’s an exciting time, we also just hired Daniel Danker, very senior product leader at BBC, responsible for the iPlayer, a great example of the second screen. A lot of great things [are in the works].