Every time one of Shazam's 88 million users asks, "What’s that song?" and IDs it on a phone, record labels receive another chunk of crucial information to determine the next big hit.
Far from just a resource to identify a song you hear in a club or store, each ID tag shows up in the British company's database, where it gets packaged into pop charts, shown to record labels, radio stations and concert promoters and used to make a small hit even bigger. Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and Lorde's "Royals" are among the many blockbusters that showed up first in Shazam.
"It's become a very useful and insightful tool," says Peter Gray, head of promotions for Warner Bros. Records. Shazam's statistics aren't perfect - even country singer Kacey Musgraves' label reps can't explain why her "Blowin' Smoke" was Number One in Thiruvananthapuram, India, the week after the Grammy Awards - but they're reliable enough to make solid predictions.