Shazam is undoubtedly a very cool app. But for fans of electronic music, it’s unfortunately less useful than it could be. With tracks overlapping with other tracks, the time in which you sample your audio could be key to getting a result.
Club picture from Shutterstock
Of course, any music identification service can only be as good as its database, and in the ever-evolving sphere of electronic music, with its rare dubplates and forthcoming releases mixed into DJ sets, these services can fail. Sometimes they’ll nab that obscure release which was only made available on the producer’s website, and sometimes they’ll drop the ball on something you considered a genre classic. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done about that on our end.
But the main problem for electronic music fans is that much of electronic music is designed to be mixed into something else. Many of the ways we consumed this music — podcasts, online radio, YouTube, SoundCloud, MixCloud, or a live set — are hour-long mixes that thwart our attempts to extract individual track data. Shazam has clever tricks to overcome many challenges when identifying tracks in the wild, but two at once is something it just can’t handle.
We’ve actually pitted Shazam up against SoundHound, and found SoundHound (say that three times fast, just for fun) to come out slightly ahead. But both these services suffer from this problem.
So if you’re like me and have no shame waving around Shazam in the middle of a club dancefloor, blue light be damned, your best option is to wait until after that really big build-up. That’s the point in which the DJ wants the purest, fullest sound — and to get that, they very likely will have switched over to just one track.
With Shazam’s latest update, it seems you’re no longer able to shorten the sample time, forcing you to wait the full 10 seconds before sending it back to their servers. This makes it that much more important to choose your timing wisely. Pull the trigger right after the build-up, as soon as the new track is loudest and purest, and hope the MC stays quiet long enough for you to go home with a full arsenal of tracks for you to 100% legally acquire later.