Got a mystery tune running through your head? You know, one of those songs that keeps you up all night trying to figure out the name of the tune and who sang it?

Who can you ask to name that tune? Your friends? A record store clerk? Google?

Or, you can ask Shazam, the worldwide song I.D. company based in London that’s built an entire business on identifying artists and songs for the masses.

“[Shazam] was actually started by American entrepreneurs nine years ago when everyone was using instant messaging on their PCs, and people were text-messaging on their cell phones in Europe,” Shazam CEO Andrew Fisher told Pollstar. “We started off as a U.K.-based service, direct to consumer. We then started to focus internationally on markets like North America, and we were deploying services on carriers like Verizon, Virgin Mobile and Alltel.”

Fisher said Shazam’s early days as a song identification service were pretty “simplistic.” Back then the company had only one real product to promote – ringtones – and all interaction between the company and its customers occurred via text messaging.

But that was then. Now, through Shazam and its partner clients, users can get just about everything music related through their mobile phones.

How does Shazam work? All Shazam users in the United Kingdom need do is dial 2580 on a mobile keypad and then point the phone toward the music source. Shazam listens to the music, automatically hangs up on the connection, and then sends a text message identifying the song. If there’s merchandise, perhaps the song itself, or concert tickets, Shazam provides the user with a link to the appropriate partner.

But Shazam is more than any one service or product.

“You see the Shazam logo on the screen,” Fisher said. “In the results … you might need Madonna. Would you like to buy the full track? Would you like to buy the ringtone? Would you like to buy the ticket? Would you like to look at a YouTube video? Etc, etc …

“So it’s become a much richer service. And it’s also become a much more compelling service, not because of ourselves, but because of our partners. Instead of having 10,000 ringtones in a catalog, we’ve now got partners with 4 million songs. There’s a good chance that once you’ve found out what the song is, you can buy that music, look at video, or do something else. And that means we’ve shifted from ‘name that tune’ to a really convenient way to buy associated products.”

For North American customers, the Shazam service is still based upon song identification. However, in Europe, where people were texting on their cell phones long before North Americans started letting their thumbs do the talking, Shazam is known for more than just naming a tune.

Shazam quickly discovered its users weren’t just using the service for song identification. In fact, many were skipping Shazam’s identification capabilities and going directly to the company’s other services.

“If you think about it, how often does someone actually need to find out the name of a song as opposed to already knowing the song that’s playing and just looking to use a device, in this case a cell phone, to make the whole experience more efficient? ” Fisher said.

Evidently, Fisher and his Shazam comrades have taken the service in the right direction. Fisher said it was only a couple of years ago when his company didn’t see a high rate of return customers, and that many customers might have used the service only three times – once to try it out, once to try to break it, and then once to share with a friend. But like the service itself, the number of returning customers has changed over the years. Shazam now has 35 million users, many of which use the service 10 times or more per month.

Shazam is also getting a good deal of exposure through Facebook, benefiting from the networking environment such online communities provide. When Shazam users, via the plug in, receive song identification from Shazam, that info goes straight to their Facebook profile page. Fisher described it as an ego thing, with each Facebook user wanting to be the first with the song’s title and artist.

“There’s a lot of viral vanity,” Fisher said. “It depends what devices you look at in the cell phone industry, but something like the iPhone, we’ve seen the demographics of Shazam users. So, we’re getting an older demographic and a far broader spread. Historically, our core user group has been 16- to 25-year-olds, and the people spending the money have been 19- to 25-year-olds. But with the iPhone, we’re seeing a broader spread. Certainly up to 35- to 40-year-olds. But on the other hand, on the social networking side, it’s skewed toward the younger demographic who are looking for that social currency.”

Shazam has partnered with 75 mobile phone operators in 60 countries, making the company one of the few music businesses available on every major continent. North America is Shazam’s largest market, but the company is also active in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Pacific, Western Europe and the Middle East.

What’s next on the Shazam agenda? What can a company possibly want for its customers after successfully serving up song I.D.s, music downloads and merchandise? A company that recently announced it had accrued 15 million new users in just six months, and had struck deals with Samsung to offer enhanced services on Samsung’s BeatDJ and BeatDisc mobile handsets? How about concert tickets?

“On our Web site we’ve implemented linking into tickets and it’s been a successful service,” said Fisher. “But as of now, most of our usage is on the mobile. We would like to make the audience aware we think the ability for people to identify music and buy music is very popular, but the one area of the entire music ecosystem that is performing well financially in this market is live performance. It seems very logical to us to enable people to identify a track and then be able to buy the tickets immediately.

“We had a great promotion with Prince. We think Prince did a very smart thing. He decided to give his album away. At least in the U.K. He put himself in one location for 21 nights and sold out 25,000 people for 21 nights straight at $50 each. That’s a very smart business model. So we do think users are interested in paying for live performances. In the mobile landscape there is a lot of value to be created there.”

Like Billy Batson in comic books, who needed only to shout, “Shazam!” to transform into superhero Captain Marvel, users need only get the Shazam hookup to have an instant connection to song identification, merchandise, song downloads, CDs and tickets. Now that’s a marvel worth shouting about.