How Subaru and Shazam Helped Make Odessa a Star

Music exec used app to discover folk singer

It's rare that ads make the artist, but in the case of singer-songwriter Odessa, it was in fact just that—a TV commercial for Subaru launched her career.

The automaker's "Flat Tire" spot last year featured a father teaching his daughter to change her own tire. A Republic Records rep took notice of the ad's soulful, hypnotic soundtrack and used Shazam, a popular music discovery app, to find the artist behind the song.

After Odessa signed with Republic's label, "I Will Be There" played on Fox's Red Band Society and ABC's Grey's Anatomy, which elicited 10,359 and 8,070 shazams, respectively.

Next up for Odessa: the release of her self-titled album on April 28. "I can't really wrap my head around it," she said. "Shazam…did something really great for me."

Technology has changed the way that artists are discovered, noted Marcie Allen, president of MAC Presents. "Platforms like Shazam will only continue to grow and gain importance for music," she said.

Shazam has 105 million monthly active users, and there are nearly 20 million shazams daily.

Odessa initially was unsure about allowing Subaru's agency Carmichael Lynch to use her song, but the spot struck an emotional chord that won her over.

"For a long time artists viewed using their songs in commercials to be selling out," said Peter Szabo, head of music and U.S. ad sales for Shazam. "Now it's embraced, and they say if it wasn't for these brands they wouldn't have gotten the exposure. And if Shazam didn't exist to be that discovery tool, you couldn't identify [them]."

Odessa isn't alone. The use of Shazam has helped boost the profiles of artists like Alex Clare and Aloe Blacc, as well as helped bands like Kongos and Chainsmokers sign record deals.

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