Shazam Reviews

Pretty useless

Negative Review by Anamon
about Shazam and SoundHound, TrackID 6 days ago

Shazam went from being the standard music recognition app, to pretty much going down the drain.

The success of these apps depends somewhat on the genres of music you listen to, and I can tell you that if you listen to electronic music at all, Shazam is completely useless in that area. It might recognise the sound of some synth, or some specific drum sample or rhythmic pattern, and just return you a random title among the thousands that use a similar element. It's worse than useless, because in the moment, you might think that you actually IDed the track, when in fact Shazam just returned a bogus title to you, maybe keeping you from trying another app. Listen to a drum and bass track and keep Shazaming it over and over, you'll probably get 20 different (and wrong) IDs before the track is out. This keeps happening to me again and again, every time I try to use Shazam for electronic music.

Just a couple of years ago, the app used to do pretty well in other genres. Funk, Soul, Jazz, Hip-hop… it's done me good service for a pretty long time, and was definitely the most comprehensive and reliable music identification tool out there. Something must have happened since then, though. Either they tried to improve their algorithm and failed, or their catalogue of fingerprints has seriously suffered (licensing issues, maybe?) because these days, the hit rate of Shazam is miserable in pretty much any musical style I try it.

I geeked out at a recent funk and soul night, and tried four different music ID apps on my phone for around 20 tracks (all apps tried on all the same tracks). SoundHound won by a massive distance, missing only about 3 or 4 tracks, and identifying all the rest correctly, sometimes after just about 2 seconds of listening. Next up was Gracenote (through the Sony TrackID app), which got around half of the tracks. Google Music Search had around the same hit rate, but took about 5 times as long per search, and had a couple of misidentified tracks to boot. Shazam managed to ID all of 3 tracks – and returned another 5 results that were completely off (as in, sounding not even remotely similar to anything that was played that night). I don't know what happened, but Shazam is almost completely useless now. SoundHound, on the other hand, I always remembered as being the slightly less reliable second chance if Shazam failed, but that one has improved noticeably and is now amazingly reliable. I'm very sure that it can't be just that the competition got better while Shazam didn't – it really used to work a lot better than these days.

Then there's the issue of the app itself. It's so incredibly bloated now compared to when it was first released. Chocked full of pointless animations and many ads, it now takes so long to start and is so sluggish to react, that it could probably make you miss a track just by how long it takes to start listening. SoundHound is quicker to get going – not as quick as Google or TrackID, but considering their lower hitrate, I'd still stick to SoundHound.

Something went massively wrong in the development of Shazam, and it now regularly fails at the one thing it's meant to do. Not good!

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Magic happens!

Positive Review by JenStern
about Shazam Aug 2014

Already a classic in the little world of music identification.

It's fast, has a beautiful design and grabs all info needed about artists.

Really great. A must have, full stop.

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