Correlating Shazam Data with Global Radio Airplay Data

A brief exercise to find the single source of a burst of Shazams (listener audio identification activity)

Apple Music for Artists, an analytics platform for musical artists and their management / marketing teams, pulls most of the data related to the consumption of an artist’s music from how their songs are played on the Apple Music streaming service. Yet Apple Music for Artists accesses one more data set.

Apple bought the music identification app Shazam in 2018 which allows consumers the ability to identify songs being played in most environments, and on many devices— at a hotel lobby, restaurant, night clubs, in a car, on TV, etc. — wherever they can hold their phone up to an audio source.

Shazam activity indicates an individual artist’s songs being identified anywhere in the world by listeners using the app. This activity will appear in that artist’s Apple Music for Artists dashboard along side the Apple Music streaming data.

The following screenshot shows my music group FSQ’s Shazam activity over seven days, starting Saturday, February 6th 2021.

There was a burst of activity on Monday, February 8th when sixty Shazams were recorded globally.

The Shazam volume was much higher than usual for FSQ on this day as we normally only net about ten total Shazam identifications of our songs per day, globally.

In this set of sixty Shazams executed by listeners on this day, February 8th, all sixty were identifying the same exact same song — FSQ’s “Dancefloor Democracy”.

February 8th — 60 Shazams of FSQ songs, but all 60 of these Shazams were of the same song

The fact that the sixty Shazams all were identifying the same song, on the same day indicates our song — “Dancefloor Democracy” — got airplay somewhere in the world, at a specific time, where there was a large audience.

In the time of COVID, it’s unlikely there are any concerts going on, or any types of gathering anywhere. But the idea that the song got airplay to a large audience due to a specific event is reinforced when the Shazam data reveals that of those sixty Shazams, 100% of them originated from app users in Japan.

60 Shazams on February 8th, 2021 originated from Japan, with that being 100% of FSQ’s Shazam Activity for the day. Also 100% of the Shazams identified the FSQ song “Dancefloor Democracy”

With NO music clubs open, deductive logic tells you that FSQ’s “Dancefloor Democracy” was played on the radio which led to the listeners Shazaming the song on a specific day**. Given the Shazam activity is all in Japan, then it follows that Japanese radio played the song.

** Shazam data shown within Apple Music for Artists only gets granular down to the day the Shazam IDs happened on, not a specific time during that day.

There are several affordable radio monitoring and analytics services that would allow me to see if FSQ’s “Dancefloor Democracy” was played on Japanese radio on February 8th, 2021. WARM Airplay is great for this purpose, but would require that you are already monitoring the song in advance of it’s airplay. WARM Airplay claims to have the widest coverage of terrestrial broadcast and internet (online only) radio station monitoring. There’s a new player on the block in this radio monitoring space called Radio Tools, which is cool in terms of how the service visualizes the airplay of an artist’s catalog set against a map of radio stations.

Radio airplay for FSQ in early March 2021 as tracked by Radio Tools

There is also MRC’s BDS Radio platform which covers North American radio airplay, but it’s a pricey enterprise platform. At a more reasonable cost, artists and their marketing teams can subscribe to music analytics platforms Chartmetric and SoundCharts. These two monitor more than just radio airplay, with a big part of their focus set on tracking the inclusion of an artist’s song catalog within playlists on major streaming services. That being said, they do well with tracking radio airplay and I really like SoundCharts as my primary radio monitoring source.

Unfortunately, SoundCharts shows no radio airplay of FSQ’s “Dancefloor Democracy” in Japan on February 8th.

SoundCharts Radio Monitoring of FSQ song catalog from November 2020 to March 2021 — NO radio airplay of FSQ was indicated from January 29t to March 3rd 2021

I still believed well, someone, somewhere in Japan played FSQ’s “Dancefloor Democracy” on February 8th. Furthermore, the Apple Music for Artists / Shazam data showed me that 60 people in the country went to identify said song being played with their Shazam app on that date. Regardless, I had reached a dead end in being able to corollate Shazam data with global radio airplay regarding this date.

Part of the job of being a music artist marketer is monitoring and engaging with social media content that carries hashtags related to your artist brand. FSQ is very close to the world of George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee super funk group also known simply as P-Funk. Several P-Funk group members appear on our FSQ recent 2020 album, “Reprise Tonight”. I actively monitor Instagram for content marked with the hash tag #Pfunk. There’s not an overwhelming amount of content tagged #Pfunk on Instagram, it’s today about 100,000 posts which seems low considering Instagram has been around for over 10 years. But the fact there’s not too much content posted each week with the #Pfunk hash tag makes it easy for me to search and see all posts marked with the tag each week.

An instagram hash tag review of posts tagged #Pfunk revealed that The Dave Fromm Radio show on Toyko’s Inter FM 89.7 played FSQ on February 8th

Yes I had given up on finding the source of the Japanese Shazam activity related to airplay of FSQ’s “Dancefloor Democracy” on February 8th, 2021. Then in my weekly search of Instagram content tagged #PFunk I found an Instagram post from Joey Okomizo who seems to work with Japanese radio show host Dave Fromm. Fromm has a weekly radio program on Inter FM 89.7FM Toyko. On February 8th, there is an Instagram post from Joey showing the FSQ album “Reprise Tonight” being featured on the Dave Fromm Radio show. Voilà — we now had our February 8th radio airplay event that corresponds to the sixty Shazams of FSQ’s “Dancefloor Democracy” song in Japan on that day.

For whatever reason, SoundCharts and Radio Tools do not monitor Inter FM 89.7 FM Toyko so I did not have that third data point I needed to correlate the Shazam data to the airplay of FSQ’s “Dancefloor Democracy” without that visual evidence from Instagram. Hopefully these radio monitoring services continue to expand their tracking of broadcast outlets across the world, whether they be online only (internet) radio or terrestrial broadcast stations.

There are other instances where I am able to track Shazam activity directly to radio airplay using radio monitoring tools. In this LinkedIn post, I examine how I am able to tie Shazam data to a radio airplay event in Switzerland.

Thanks for reading this brief music data mapping exercise. I should have prefaced that there was reason to believe Japanese radio was playing FSQ’s “Reprise Tonight” album, as we recently were able to release it for the Japanese market via Tokyo based record label P-Vine Records. It’s incredible to see music retailer Tower Records still thrives in that market and that the marketing the record label put behind it’s release in Japan including placing FSQ prominently at Tower. You can see that demonstrated in the brief video clip.

Music Data Pro by Chuck Fishman: in depth about music marketing + data — specifically marketing musical artists on streaming services, streaming + radio.