If you didn't believe in the power of big data before, you will now: according to a talk given yesterday by Cait O'Riordan, Shazam's VP of product, her company can predict nearly every successful pop song ahead of time. The Shazam app, which allows you to identify songs with your phone, has 100 million users worldwide, and people use the app approximately 20 million times a day. This gives Shazam a huge data set, and with lots of data comes forecasting power. O'Riordan says that "with relative accuracy, we can predict 33 days out what song will go to number one on the Billboard charts."
That's not all: Shazam can watch as songs begin to blow up in different regions and snowball into global successes. O'Riordan traces the rise of Clean Bandit's "Rather Be"—the most Shazamed song of 2014—and suggests that its 2015 equivalent might be the remix of Omi's "Cheerleader." Possibly coolest of all, Shazam can tell exactly what moment in a song causes people to reach for their phones and get the app going. For O.T. Genasis' "Coco," the famous exclamation, "baking soda, I got baking soda!" sent people scrambling for their devices. And when people were listening to Kanye's "Monster" back in 2010, Nicki's verse was the one that got most of the Shazam's. Disputes about who had the best rap verse will never be the same again.
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