How Does Shazam Work?

Have you ever experienced that you listen to a song being played nearby. You like the song and its tune gets stuck up in the backside of your mind.You want to name the title of the song but are unable to. Who can help you ? You feel shy to ask someone for the fear of being labeled as dumb. Enter Shazam. Press a button on your phone which solves the dilemma in a few clicks and in seconds you'll get the artist and song title. Does it sound magical ? Yes ,of course


Shazam -an application developed by Shazam Entertainment Ltd. can identify music, movies, advertising, and television shows, based on a short sample played and using the microphone on the device

The musical magic  is available for Android, macOS, iOS, watchOS and tvOS..It  is one of the world’s most popular apps, used by hundreds of millions of people each month to instantly identify music that’s playing and see what others are discovering.  With a touch of the Shazam button, the app takes a quick (10 second) recording of the song you are listening to and then miraculously returns the name of the artist, the song title and the album in question

Process Behind Shazam

How does Shazam work this magic, you may ask? When you hold your phone up to a song you'd like to ID, Shazam turns your clip into a digital signature /acoustic fingerprint of the frequencies , amplitude and time. Shazam creates a spectrogram (a visual display of the prominent frequencies in a track, from booming bass to fizzing cymbals), for each song in its database - a graph that plots three dimensions of music: frequency vs. amplitude vs. time. The algorithm then picks out just those points that represent the peaks of the graph - notes that contain "higher energy content" than all the other notes around it, 

The main thing here is creating a 'fingerprint' of each performance .Then it's just a matter of pattern-matching - Shazam searches its library for the code it created from your clip; when it finds that bit, it knows it's found your song   Shazam stores a catalogue of audio fingerprints in a database. The company has a library of more than 11 million songs, and it has devised a technique to break down each track into a simple numeric signature—a code that is unique to each track. Then when you send a recording to their library, Shazam quickly recognizes the digital signature, and presto, an answer is returned ,otherwise it returns a "song not known" dialogue.



A spectogram

How a fingerprint is made?

To make an audio fingerprint, an audio file is converted into a spectrogram where the y-axis represents frequency, the x-axis represents time and the density of the shading represents amplitude. For each section of an audio file, the strongest peaks are chosen and the spectrogram is reduced to a scatter plot. At this point, amplitude is no longer necessary. To overcome the challenge that the user recording can begin at any point of song, through a process called combinatorial hashing, points on scatter plot are chosen to be anchors that are linked to other points on the plot that occur after the anchor point during a window of time and frequency known as a target zone. Each anchor-point pair is stored in a database containing the frequency of the anchor, the frequency of the point, and the time between the anchor and the point known as a hash. At the time of matching, each of anchor point pairs of user’s recording are sent to Shazam’s database to look for matching anchor-point pairs.Once we have all of the possible matches for the Shazam user’s recording, we need to find the time offset between the beginning of the Shazam user’s recording and the beginning of one of these possible matches from the database. This offset in timing can be calculated by subtracting the time of the anchor-point pair’s occurrence in the Shazam user’s recording from the matching hash’s time of occurrence in the audio file from Shazam’s database. If a significant amount of matching hashes have the same time offset, that song is determined to be a match!


Shazam can identify pre recorded music being broadcast from any source, such as a radio, television, cinema or music in a club, provided that the background noise level is not high enough to prevent an acoustic fingerprint being taken, and that the song is present in the software's database.

The lo-fi nature of sounds played over a mobile phone means that this analysis has to be resilient to extraneous noise, distortion, chat and general degradation You'd think that ignoring nearly all of the information in a song would lead to inaccurate matches, but Shazam's fingerprinting technique is remarkably immune to disturbances—it can match songs in noisy environments over bad cell connections. 

When does Shazam Not Work?

Shazam can only identify recorded music which is in database. If you were to hum the same song to Shazam, it wont be able to recognize because acoustic fingerprint would be different, it is highly dependent on timing between anchor point pairs.

What else can Shazam do besides identify music?

Preview songs with Apple Music and add them to Apple Music and Spotify playlists 

View music lyrics and YouTube videos for the songs you Shazam 

Auto Shazam can recognize songs in the background after you've left the app 

Shazam's Visual recognition gets you information on posters, magazines or books; you can use it anywhere you see the Shazam camera logo 

Visual recognition also works as a code reader for all QR codes 

Stay up-to-date about new singles, albums, and videos from the artists you follow 

You can follow artists to see what they're Shazaming 

Buy tickets to see your favorite artists in concert 

Options Available

Shazam offers two types of applications: a free app simply called Shazam, and a paid app called Shazam Encore. 

Shazam is a free or low-cost application that runs on Android, iOS, BlackBerry OS, and Windows Phone systems. The application is similar on most phones, and the result is shown on the screen complete with details on Artist, Album, Title, Genre, Music label, lyrics, a thumbnail image of the song/album artwork, links to download the song on the Amazon MP3 or iTunes store, and, where relevant, give the option of playing the song on Rdio or Spotify and show the song's video on YouTube. Shazam is also available for Mac, as a desktop application.

Great Channel For Artists

Over the years, Shazam became the go - to service for people who want to discover the author of a song they liked but also for artists to connect with their fans. Their track pages and artist page complete their strategy to build a strong relationship with their followers. Not to mention that Shazam inspire users with other content that match their preferences. 

Can Shazam Recognize Indian Music?

After testing waters with Airtel in January, mobile based music Recognition app Shazam is now working with the Indian online music streaming site Saavn.com to allow users identify and discover music across regional languages like Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, and Bhojpuri and genres like Bhangra, Devotional, Ghazals, Carnatic and Indipop among others.

Why is Shazam so popular

Its success is testament to the idea’s cleverness and investors’ patience The technology behind Shazam remains ingenious: By riding the wave of digital music in the first decade of the 21st century, Shazam ended up having a profound effect on the way music was consumed.

More than 12 years later, Shazam is now synonymous with music identification in the way that Google is synonymous with web search, Positive matches generating song titles was a process that blew our tiny minds. Shazamming still feels like a luxury bestowed upon us by the technological gods. 

Overall, the app is a must have for music lovers

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