Shazam is expanding to the visual world. Now you can use your phone’s camera to scan the Shazam logo on printed media. Shazam will then load up some other “content.” Who asked for this?

In its purely audio form, Shazam is magic. You’re in a bar, you hear a song, you want to know what song it is, Shazam tells you. There is problem—a need—and Shazam solves it. It’s this simple utility that’s made the app hugely successful. Is visual Shazam that cool? Not by a long shot.

Advertisement

Basically, this allows advertisers to attach a branded QR code to the advertisements. Let’s say you’re just going about your day when you come across something printed with the Shazam logo and a little camera symbol. This means you can scan to learn more! It could be an advertisement in a magazine, or the magazine cover itself, or a poster, or a sticker, or an environmentally friendly reusable bag.

Hurry, quickly, take out your phone! Try to contain your excitement as you fire up the familiar app and hit the new little camera icon just next to the familiar glowing Shazam button. Now this part requires real bravery: Thrust your phone forward and scan, scan!!! the logo on the aforementioned piece of media, and the app will transport you to some other form of content. Content. For free!

The company sent me a big box of stuff to try Shazaming. I had the opportunity to Shazam a concert poster for Meghan Trainor—who is insufferable—and a movie poster for Tomorrowland—which is completely terrible. Sure enough I was transported to websites with information.

Sometimes visual Shazam unlocks exclusive content. Like when I scanned the Jason Statham Esquire cover, and I got to watch an 18-second video of Jason Statham doing some bland tough guy driving of a fancy car and staring at the camera. (At least I actually like Jason Statham.)

Advertisement

In sum, this tech could theoretically be used to do something interesting, but so far no dice! Will it ever? And how it is any different from regular QR codes?

Realistically, companies will have to pay for the right to make stuff Shazamable, and if they’re doing that, it’ll be because they want to sell you shit. So really, this is just advertising disguised as technology. Someday, maybe you’ll be Shazaming stuff off this very weblog. Shazam the poster. Shazam the cocktail napkin. Shazam the sticker. The whole world can now be an interactive advertising campaign.