Databases and Music{5}

by Wendy O

Logo of Shazam

Shazam is a mobile application that can identify songs. It does this by recording up to 15 seconds of the song you are listening to and then sends it to their database to find the match. They do this by storing “fingerprints” of over 8 million songs on their database. When the application records the song you are listening to, it records it in the same way that their other songs are stored in their database. This allows a match to be found. The fingerprint is a spectrogram that has been generated for each song. Specifically, it is a 3 dimension graph with the time on the (x) axis, and the frequency and amplitude on the (y) axis. This spectrogram stores only the intense sounds in the song, the frequency, and at what time during the song they appear. This creates the “fingerprint”.

Shazam has approximately 150 million users with over 4 million songs tagged each day. According to the article in the NY Times, they are expanding their product and working with TV shows and retailers. They reported to have raised over $32 million in venture capital this last June.


It was great to read how a database can be used to store fingerprints of music. It has brought something to the industry that many of us had been waiting to be developed. I think it really represents the power of a well developed database and the impact it can have on any industry.

My personal opinion is that Shazam was an innovative product. It is very convenient for the average consumer. There have been many times where my friends and I have been hanging out and a random song comes on that no one knows the name of or who sings it, but we like it. Ever since Shazam we’ve been able to identify the song and download it via iTunes immediately after tagging it. It beats the old days where we would intensely have to listen to the song on the radio hoping that the DJ will announce the title or artist, only to be disappointed by a commercial or another song playing immediately after. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you were probably born in the 90s.


Wortham, J. (2011, June 22). Shazam identifies the sound of fresh venture funds. Retrieved from Http://bits. Blogs. Nytimes. Com/2011/06/22/shazam-identifies-the-sound-of-fresh-venture-funds/.

Surdu, Nicolae. (2011, January 20). How does shazam work to recognize a song?. Retrieved from Http://www. Soyoucode. Com/2011/how-does-shazam-recognize-song.