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Which music identification app is king?

Finding out what song is playing nearby is simply a matter of opening an app on your smartphone, but which service is the best? We put Shazam, SoundHound and MusicID to the test...

Unsurprisingly, Shazam is the service to beat here. It's the king of music identification, as evidenced by its integration with Siri in iOS and macOS 9 Tips for a better Apple music experience on iOS and OS X 9 Tips for a better Apple music experience on iOS and OS X There are a lot that Apple doesn't have I'm not talking about Apple Music. Here are some of the best tricks to get the most out of your songs. Read more . Shazam is also the star of a new TV show, Beating Shazam , where contestants must identify popular songs faster than Shazam.

With this in mind, it's time for a showdown. Let's take a brief look at each app and see what they offer. Then we'll benchmark their performance to see which app deserves a spot on your device...


Shazam, the reigning champion, has been around in its current form since 2008, when Apple launched the iOS App Store. The app uses a simple interface:just click the big blue button on the main screen to identify the music playing around you. Shazam calls this "tagging." If you don't have a data connection How to Find Free Unlimited Wi-Fi Access Almost Anywhere How to Find Free Unlimited Wi-Fi Access Almost Anywhere There's nothing better than scoring free Wi-Fi. Here are some ways to find free, unlimited Wi-Fi, no matter where you are. Read More You can also log in to the Shazam web portal to see all the songs you've tagged to date.

Once you tag a song, you can see the album art, the number of times people have tagged it, and other basic information. Depending on your mobile platform, you will see links to listen, buy or start the radio for the song from Google Play Music or iTunes Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Google Play Music:Which is the best? Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Google Play Music:Which is the best? While there are a plethora of music streaming services out there, there are three main ones that stand out above the rest:Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music. But which one is better? Read more.

You can share the track with others using the corresponding apps on your phone, listen with Spotify and other services, and even view the most popular music videos and lyrics. Scroll down and you'll find related tracks and even songs that the artist has Shazam-tagged.

If you want, you can connect your Shazam account with Facebook to see who your Shazam friends are, but it's not required. You can also link your Spotify account to add Shazam songs to a playlist. Scroll to the Discover tab, and Shazam will help you find new music 7+ Easy Ways To Discover New Music You'll Love 7+ Easy Ways To Discover New Music You'll Love The depth and breadth of music to be discovered these days is mind-boggling. The problem is knowing where to look. We're here to help with an amazing list of resources just for you. Read more . Here, you can also search for artists or songs by text and get a page of results just as you had tagged them.

Shazam has also partnered with non-music services. Certain TV ads, at least in the US, post additional information if they are Shazam. The service also has an image scanning feature, where you can scan special codes on billboards, magazines, and more. These unlock “exclusive content.”

Rounding out the Shazam feature set is the Auto Shazam feature, which you can enable by long-pressing the Shazam button. When enabled, Shazam will constantly listen to your surroundings, even if you leave the app, with labels appearing as notifications. Privacy Concerned Users 8 Ways To Stay Private While Using An Android Smartphone 8 Ways To Stay Private While Using An Android Smartphone Smartphones are designed to give away a lot of data about you, but it can tweak your phone clever to make it much more private. - and you should. Read More these apps if you want good battery life. Read more . Still, it's a nice feature, especially if you want to quickly tag multiple songs without Shazaming each time.

Shazam is free to use as much as you want, and even has apps for Apple Watch and Android Wear 12 Android Wear Apps to Install Out of the Box on Your Smartwatch 12 Android Wear Apps to Install Out of the Box on Your Smartwatch If You Have a Brand-New Android Smartwatch , here are the Android Wear apps you should have installed right away. Read more . You can also purchase Shazam Encore ($3), the ad-free version, but it does not include any additional features.

Download: Shazam for Android | iOS | Windows | macOS (free)


After Shazam, SoundHound is the next most popular music identification app. It offers a similar package to Shazam, so let's quickly review the differences.

SoundHound has an ID button in the center of its home screen, just like Shazam. When you tag a song, you can play a short sample of it, start the track, share it, or add it to a Spotify playlist. You can also buy or stream the track on your device's main service. Scroll down and you'll see the artist's top songs, videos, and more.

Also like Shazam, if you're offline and you tag a song, it's added to your pending searches to search for later. While Shazam does this automatically and sends you a notification, SoundHound requires you to open the app and choose to identify it, which is a bit tedious.

Apart from identifying music, SoundHound also has a whole Play tab dedicated to music playback. When you ask it to play something, it will open the page for that song as if you had tagged it. Surely you have a better app on your phone to listen to music. What is the best way to stream free music on Android? What is the best way to stream free music on Android? There are plenty of free music streaming apps for Android, but how are they different and which one is your best option? Read More The left tab, History , keeps its past tags, as well as the World Music Map that lets you see what people around the world are tagging 8 ways to discover popular music around the world 8 ways to discover popular music around the world While it's easy to know what music is popular in your own country, what if you want to find out what it is? Is it popular in other countries of the world? Read more with SoundHound.

Unlike Shazam, SoundHound has Alexa voice controls, how does Siri work? Voice control explained Alexa, how does Siri work? Voice Control Explained The world is moving towards voice commands for everything, but how exactly does voice control work? Why is it so glitchy and restricted? This is what you need to know as a lay user. Read more . Say OK Hound and you can ask it to start tagging songs or play a certain track. This is fine, but not particularly useful unless you want to, say, tag a song hands-free in the car.

Another standout feature is SoundHound's ability to detect singing and humming. How to find the title of a song. Only with the sound of the letter. How to find the title of a song. Only with the sound of the letter. Here are the best music speech recognition tools to help you. Read More If you can only remember the melody of a song but not the words, this is a fun little way to identify music. Similar to this, you can type an artist, album or track to search for it without tagging it.

SoundHound has a paid version called SoundHound Infinity ($6 on Android, $7 on iOS). This removes the ads, but doesn't provide anything else for your cash.

Download: SoundHound for Android | iOS | WindowsMobile | BlackBerry (Free)


MusicID is our final competitor, and it's the least popular of the three. It offers the basic set of features:a clean home screen with a big button for identification, top tracks, and the ability to review what you've tagged.

Once you tag a song, you'll see basic information about it, a share button, and a link to buy it on Amazon. You can also add a comment to the tag, which helps you remember 5 Apps That Will Remember Anything For You 5 Apps That Will Remember Anything For You Your brain has a limited amount of memory. You can't remember everything. But when something is important, it helps to have a quick way to remember it. Use these apps to help your brain. Read More

MusicID also includes the standard related music and videos, but not much else, on its results page. Unlike other services, there is no option to view the lyrics, listen to the song on Spotify, or add it to a playlist.

In addition to tagging and viewing your previous searches, MusicID offers an easy Browse tongue. This allows you to browse popular music, along with songs like the ones you've tagged. You can also search for other music by text. Pull up a song and you'll get the same page of results you'd see if you tagged it normally.

MusicID offers almost no functionality when you don't have a data connection. You can browse your previous tags, but you can't grab a song and search for it later, so the app is essentially useless if you're not online. Therefore, this app is definitely the most mediocre of the three. It doesn't have any ads, but it lacks important features like lyrics and integration with other streaming apps. There is no paid version of MusicID, but the app has also not received an update since March 2017 at the time of writing.

Download: Music ID for Android | iOS

Application Summary

No wonder Shazam is a winner here. He is the king thanks to his elegant interface and the speed with which he identifies the music. He has enough cool features that are useful without feeling overbearing.

SoundHound is still solid, if not as popular. Some of its features, like voice control and "playlist" functionality, are of questionable value. But the sing and hum feature is a nice bonus. SoundHound does enough to justify its existence. It's a good option if you need the support to sing, or refuse to use Shazam for some reason.

Frankly, we wouldn't recommend MusicID at all. Its clean interface and lack of ads are nice, but the lack of offline support and lack of integration with streaming apps make it the least appealing option. However, this test is all about identification, so we're going to put these apps at your pace.

Testing the applications

We played five different songs from Spotify How to Discover New Music with Spotify:7 Key Tips and Tricks to Know How to Discover New Music with Spotify:7 Key Tips and Tricks to Know The main reason I love Spotify is that it has helped me find So much new music over the years. Here are the built-in features of Spotify that I used to discover amazing music. Read More This allows us to compare their average performance.

To test your aptitude in different types of music, we use the following tracks:

  • “Lobos” by Selena Gomez and Marshmello from Spotify's Top 50 chart. This pop hit is from October 2017 and has almost 25 million views.
  • “Who's Left, Who's Right” by Johnny Lee. This is a country song from 2016 with less than 4,000 works.
  • “Old stories” by Alta View. This punk-rock song from June 2017 has less than 2,000 plays..
  • “Consolacao”, a bossa nova instrumental track from 1964 that has over 47,000 works.
  • “Now you got me where you want me”, a 2007 funk song by JoJo Hammett. This song comes from Forgotify, a service that plays music no one has ever heard on Spotify. Forgotify helps you discover unwanted music. On Spotify. Forgotify helps you discover unwanted music. This is where Forgotify comes into the equation. He is dedicated to delivering the tracks without discovering that no one has played on ... Read more .

Shazam results

  • “Wolves”:3.14 seconds
  • “Who is left, who is right”:11.03 seconds
  • “Old stories”:11.72 seconds
  • “Consolacao”:10.96 seconds
  • “Now you have me where you want me”:11.26 seconds

Shazam was the only one of the three services to identify each song. His fastest recognition was “Wolves,” which only took 3.14 seconds. The most challenging song for Shazam was “Pressure,” clocking in at 11.72 seconds. However, Shazam's slowest time was still faster than SoundHound's best!

Across all five songs, Shazam took a total of 48.11 seconds to recognize them all, scoring an average time of 9.62 seconds .

SoundHound results

  • “Wolves”:14.90 seconds
  • “Who is left, who is right”:Could not identify
  • “Old stories”:Could not identify
  • “Consolacao”:14.57 seconds
  • “Now you have me where you want me”:Could not identify

We were surprised that SoundHound put up such a fight. Not only did it not recognize three songs, but it took longer to do so.

SoundHound took a total of 29.47 seconds to identify the two tracks it made, with an average time of 14.74 seconds .

MusicID results

  • “Wolves”:5.03 seconds
  • “Who is left, who is right”:8.95 seconds
  • “Old stories”:Could not identify
  • “Consolacao”:6.23 seconds
  • “Now you have me where you want me”:Could not identify

MusicID was unable to identify two of the songs, but was faster at identifying the other three than SoundHound and Shazam (apart from “Lobos”).

MusicID took a total of 20.21 seconds to identify three songs, with an average time of 6.74 seconds .

Which is the best app??

SoundHound failed three songs and was the slowest, so it comes in a distant third. Although MusicID was faster, it failed to identify two songs. Combined with its barebones feature set, we have to say that Shazam is still the best. .

A music identification app that can't identify songs isn't much use, and Shazam got a perfect score on this test. It's not always the fastest, but you'll likely find what you're looking for. In fact, we were the first to Shazam the Forgotify song, and we still identify with it!

Do you agree that Shazam is king??

Of course, a small sample like this doesn't speak to the millions of songs you could try to identify with these apps. You may like Primephonic Classical Music Review:Spotify for Classical Music Review. Spotify review for classical music by Primephonic is a new music streaming service aimed at classical music lovers. What does it offer? And how does it compare to Spotify? Read More Some of that depends on your preferences. But based on the apps' overall appeal and power to identify music, we think Shazam deserves its place on the music identification throne.

For more testing, check out another detailed music identification comparison. 5 Android Music Recognition Apps Compared:Which is the best song, right? 5 Android Music Recognition Apps Compared:Which Is The Best Song? We tested five music identification apps so you don't have to. What came out on top? Read more what we do.

Did these results surprise you? Which music identification app do you use and why? Please tell us in the comments below!