Chris Barton on the story of Shazam, doing the impossible and a ‘start from zero’ mindset 

Have you ever heard a song while you’re in a bar, at a restaurant, out shopping, or watching TV and wondered: “What is the name of that song?” 

Although you may not have heard of my guest today, I can almost guarantee you’ve heard of his product. Over 2 billion people have downloaded it, 8 million new users every month use it (without a dollar of marketing) and in 2017 Apple bought it for $400 million dollars. 

That company is of course – Shazam

Today’s Guest 

My guest on today’s episode is Chris Barton. Chris is the first CEO and Founder of Shazam and an Innovation Keynote Speaker. When Chris first founded Shazam in the year 2000, it was an idea considered too far ahead of its time. To give that some context, this was three years before iTunes, seven years before the invention of the iPhone and eight years before anyone had heard of an App Store. 

To put it simply – there was no market for digital music.

Chris went on to accomplish what everyone told him was impossible. Taking his idea from ‘it will never work’ to creating a global phenomenon, redefining the music industry and giving birth to the unofficial verb: “Can you Shazam this song for me?”. 


You’ll Learn

  • His struggle with undiagnosed dyslexia and ADHD as a child – a disadvantage that he now considers to be his absolute super power.
  • The story of pitching a demo version of Shazam to potential VC’s and being told: “I don’t see why anyone would ever use that.”. Then why that became his motivation to take Shazam into the stratosphere.
  • The importance of holding a ‘start from zero’ mindset. Which involves questioning every assumption others hold to be true – then building from those basic truths.
  • How hard he had to fight to keep the name ‘Shazam’ and how to walk the line between staying true to your vision – and leaning into other peoples expertise.
  • Finally his learnings on how to get traction with an idea that’s years ahead of its time – from pitching the ‘un-pitchable’ to the core levers of achieving groundswell.

References and links mentioned

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