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How Does Shazam’s Music Discovery Algorithms Work?

Shazam, Spotify, and YouTube

Have you ever been in a situation where you are at a coffee shop, a club, or a carnival, and you hear a song that you immediately fall in love with? You open Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, or any other music streaming app to save the song, but wait… what’s the title of the song? Who’s the artist? How can you figure any of this out?

You ask around. Your friend also loves the music, but even they don’t know what song it is. The song is about to end. If it ends, you’ll probably never hear it again.

But wait… why don’t you just Shazam it?

What is Shazam?

Shazam is a music identification app that allows users to identify the name of a song, artist, and album by simply holding their device up to the music source. The app uses the device’s microphone to “listen” to the song and matches the audio sample with its database of millions of songs to provide the user with the name of the song and artist.

Basically, as long as your phone can hear the song, Shazam can capture its sample and most likely provide you with all the details you need about the song. Users can save their identified songs to a list within the app or add them directly to their favorite streaming service.

Since its launch in 2002, Shazam has become one of the most popular music apps in the world, with over 1 billion downloads and more than 250 million global monthly users. It has also identified over 70 billion songs as of 2023.

 In addition to its music identification feature, Shazam also offers other features such as voice recognition, QR code scanning, and augmented reality experiences. In 2017, Shazam was acquired by Apple for a reported $400 million and is now integrated into the Siri voice assistant on iOS devices.

How Does It Work?

You may be fascinated to learn how this simple app can identify any song it listens to. The answer is simple: Algorithms.

Shazam’s music discovery algorithms work by analyzing the audio fingerprint of a song and matching it to its database of millions of songs. Here’s how it works:

Audio Fingerprinting

When a user holds their device up to a song, Shazam’s app uses the device’s microphone to capture a short audio clip, typically about 10-15 seconds. The app then creates an audio fingerprint of the song by analyzing the unique characteristics of the audio sample, such as its tempo, melody, and rhythm.

Database Matching

Shazam’s database contains millions of audio fingerprints of songs. When a user submits an audio sample, Shazam compares the audio fingerprint to its database to find a match. The app uses an algorithm to search the database efficiently, comparing the user’s audio fingerprint to subsets of the database to narrow down possible matches.

Metadata and Recommendations

Once Shazam has identified a song, it provides the user with metadata about the song, such as the title, artist, and album. It may also provide additional information, such as lyrics or a music video. Based on the user’s listening history, Shazam may also offer recommendations for other songs the user might like.

Machine Learning

Shazam’s music discovery algorithms use machine learning to improve their accuracy over time. As more users identify songs, the app can use that data to refine its database and improve its matching algorithm. Additionally, the app can learn about a user’s music preferences based on their listening history and use that information to provide more accurate results.

Success Rate

All things considered, Shazam has a high success rate in finding music. In fact, the app claims to have a success rate of over 90%, which means it can identify a vast majority of songs that users submit.

However, the success rate can vary depending on several factors. For instance, the quality of the audio sample can affect the accuracy of the match. If the audio sample is too quiet or distorted, Shazam may have difficulty identifying the song. Similarly, if the song is a very obscure or rare track that is not in Shazam’s database, the app may not be able to identify it.

Additionally, Shazam’s success rate can be influenced by the user’s device and internet connection. If a user has a slow or unreliable internet connection, the app may have difficulty accessing the database or providing recommendations.

Despite these limitations, Shazam remains one of the most popular and accurate music identification apps available, with a success rate that is higher than many of its competitors.


In conclusion, Shazam’s music discovery algorithms are designed to identify and recommend music to users by analyzing the audio fingerprint of a song and matching it to its vast database of millions of songs. This makes Shazam one of the best music discovery apps that you can download on your phone. It is easy to use, effective, and would make your music-listening experience better.