Shazam Buys Tunezee to (almost) put karaoke in your pocket

Mobile discovery service Shazam has made its first acquisition, buying up music search engine Tunezee, whose technology is driving Shazam’s newest feature, a lyric synchronization tool. Shazam LyricPlay will allow Shazam Encore premium app users to view lyrics synced in real-time with the music they are listening to.

Shazam allows people to take their phones and “listen” to a song that is playing, and then Shazam identifies it. When users tag songs on Shazam for identification, they will now have the option to click on a LyricPlay icon in the tag results when the lyrics are available for a song. They can activate the lyrics by turning their device horizontally. The words will scroll, jump, pop or slide in real-time to the song and each song will have its own color scheme pulled from the cover art of the tagged song.

Shazam has built a growing library of 25,000 of the most tagged songs that will feature LyricPlay. The London-based company has offered static lyrics for many songs for at least a year but LyricPlay enhances the existing music recognition service, providing users another way to discover and appreciate new music. It’s also a way to stay ahead of the competition and keep Shazam unique, said CTO Jason Titus.

“We’re not just about discovering a name of a song, we’ve done more in broader mobile discovery. You can know what music you’re listening to you and we can give an experience with that music that you can’t get anywhere else,” he said.

Titus said Shazam has done a lot of work to sync up lyrics to a song and keep it displaying in time with the music, even ones that have been sped up or slowed down as sometimes happens on the radio.

LyricPlay is the latest effort by Shazam to keep innovating in its core area of music discovery. Earlier this year, the company released ShazamFriends, which creates a feed of songs that a user’s Facebook friends have tagged. The company also partnered with Spotify, allowing Spotify’s users to play music identified through Shazam. Shazam has also been taking its recognition technology into the living room, allowing users to interact with onscreen content.

Lyric Play is also another way to up-sell users on the paid versions of Shazam. The feature is available initially for the iPhone and iPod Touch in the Shazam Encore and (Shazam) RED premium apps. You can get a one-year subscription of Shazam for $3.99 or pay $5.99 once for Shazam Encore or (Shazam) RED.