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The 3 Best Music Recognition Apps to Find Songs by Their Tune

Ben Stegner Updated 09-12-2019

Shazam is the best-known music recognition app, but is it the best? Join us as we put Shazam up against two competitors: SoundHound and Musixmatch.


We’ll start with a brief overview of each app, followed by several rounds of increasingly difficult music identification challenges.

At the end of the contest we should know which is the best music recognition app to identify songs. May the best app win!

The Best Features in Each Song Finder App

First, let’s look at the biggest features that each “name that tune” app offers.


Based on popularity alone, Shazam is the app to beat in this showdown. The app features a simple interface. Upon opening it, you can tap its iconic blue button to start listening for music.


The Discover panel shows news from the music world, including new releases. You can also search for music here to hear previews or add songs to your favorites. The Shazam Charts show you what others are scanning with the app.

Every song you tag is collected in the My Shazam panel, which lets you access a ton of information about the song. Here you can listen to a sample, share it with others, listen to it on Spotify or Apple Music, watch the music video, or find other tracks from that artist.

You can also tap the Settings gear on this page to connect your social accounts and tweak a few preferences. Notably, Shazam has the Auto Shazam feature, which constantly listens for music and IDs it even when you don’t have the app open.

If you’re offline, Shazam will save what it hears and find a match when you’re back online. The app also features Visual Shazam to scan special tags with your camera for additional goodies.


Apple has owned Shazam since September 2018, and the app has been ad-free on Android and iOS since then. For some reason, though, you can still buy the “ad-free” Shazam Encore for $3 on iOS.

Download: Shazam for Android | iOS (Free)


When you look for an app that identifies songs, SoundHound is probably the first competitor to Shazam you’ll find. Its main feature set is similar, but it offers a few differences that make it worth a look.


Similar to Shazam, SoundHound features a big orange button on its homepage to start tagging. SoundHound also makes a big deal out of its support for voice controls. Saying “OK, Hound” allows you to tag music and use other features of the app hands-free. The company even offers a standalone Hound voice assistant app, but there’s not much reason to use it compared to Google Assistant or Siri.

On the Charts tab, you’ll find that SoundHound also features its own music player. This can play samples (or full songs via YouTube or Spotify Premium) you’ve tagged, as well as popular tracks from the charts. After tagging a song, you’re able to purchase it with various services, add it to your favorites, read the lyrics, or see what album the song came from.

Interestingly, SoundHound also supports singing or humming music to identify it. Since other apps don’t do this, we won’t test this feature. SoundHound is supported by ads and offers an upgrade to SoundHound Infinite if you want to remove them.

Download: Soundhound for Android | iOS (Free)
Download: SoundHound Infinite for Android ($6) | iOS ($7)


Musixmatch Lyrics

Our final song identifier app, Musixmatch, used to be paired up with Spotify to provide lyrics. While the two are no longer connected, Musixmatch is another app that recognizes songs as well.

Because Musixmatch is more of a lyrics app than a music ID app, it doesn’t focus on popular charts like the others (though it does show new releases). Instead, you can play music from your local library (or Spotify) through the app to see music lyrics. You’ll also see them when tagging a song.

The app also has a floating lyrics feature, which lets you see lyrics in real-time as you listen to music. In addition to this, if you create an account, you can contribute to lyrics for your favorite songs.

Musixmatch’s premium plan is $3/month and provides a few benefits like letting you save lyrics for offline use, as well as removing the annoying ads. Because of the app’s nature, it won’t work when used offline, so you can’t save tagged music for later like Shazam does.

Due to its unique lyrics angle, Musixmatch is worth keeping around even if you normally use Shazam or SoundHound. Of course, we’ll only compare the app’s ability to correctly identify songs in this battle.

Download: Musixmatch for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)

Song Recognition App Summary

If you’re picking an app based on looks and features alone, it’s not a clear-cut decision. Shazam is clean and doesn’t feature any ads, while SoundHound has the unique humming and singing feature.

We think Shazam is the best overall choice, but give SoundHound a try to see if it’s right for your needs. As mentioned, Musixmatch makes a great sidekick to either of them.

While there are other apps like Shazam on Google Play on the App Store, these are the three best choices. Sony shuttered its Track ID service a while back, and other apps such as Music ID haven’t seen updates in years. There’s little point in testing them when they’re not in active development.

Music Recognition App Battle: The Rules

Now it’s time to move onto the fun part: pitting these apps against each other. This showdown consists of three rounds containing two songs each.

Since these apps are used to popular music, we don’t want to give them any easy tasks. We’ll start with songs that are relatively unknown before moving onto music that few people have ever heard.

I performed the testing on my Pixel 3 by playing music from Spotify. To simulate a typical use case, each track will start at the one-minute mark. We’ll note how long it takes each app to ID the song.

Each app can take two attempts to identify the song. An app will receive a 10-second penalty for each attempt it fails. And because accuracy is vital for music recognition apps, a 15-second penalty will apply to incorrect identifications.

Round One: Moderate Difficulty

Let’s start off with two tracks that you won’t hear on the radio, but which have their own niches. Both of these songs have under 10,000 plays on Spotify.

Track 1: Alone Tonight by Kiros on A Single Strand (2008)

  • Shazam: Identified the track in 10 seconds.
  • SoundHound: Identified the track in 16 seconds.
  • Musixmatch: Identified the track in six seconds.

Track 2: Did She Ask About Me by Ronnie McDowell on American Music (1989)

  • Shazam: Identified the song in 11 seconds.
  • SoundHound: Failed both attempts (20 second penalty).
  • Musixmatch: Identified the song in four seconds.

After one round, SoundHound is already in trouble with two misses. Shazam identified both tracks, but Musixmatch did it in record speed. We’ll see if it can keep that lead up in the tougher rounds.

Round One Winner: Musixmatch

Round Two: Hard Difficulty

Next, we move into some tracks from the depths of Spotify. Both these songs have under 1,000 plays on the service.

Track 3: Forgotten Planet by RushJet1 on Out There (2017)

Track 4: See Me Through by Orange Is In on Come and Take It (2007)

  • Shazam: Identified the song in 11 seconds.
  • SoundHound: Failed both attempts (20 second penalty).
  • Musixmatch: Identified the song in 13 seconds.

The chiptune track definitely proved difficult for all three apps, with only one attempt out of six succeeding at identifying the song. SoundHound is pretty much out of the race now, but could Shazam catch up to Musixmatch? Let’s move on to the third and final round.

Round Two Winner: Musixmatch

Round Three: Extreme Difficulty

For the final round, we want music that almost nobody has heard. For this, we’ll use Forgotify— a service to discover songs that have zero plays on Spotify. This is perfect music for challenging the music recognition apps.

Track 5: Aroosi by Nader on Khat Va Neshoon (1988)

  • Shazam: Identified the song in 10 seconds.
  • SoundHound: Failed both attempts (20 second penalty).
  • Musixmatch: Failed both attempts (20 second penalty).

Track 6: Liten Suite I Gammel Stil: Andante Cantabile by Barratt-Dues Juniororkester on Asheim/ Kraggerud/ Grieg/ Hellstenius (1999)

  • Shazam: Identified the song in 11 seconds.
  • SoundHound: Failed both attempts (20 second penalty).
  • Musixmatch: Identified the song in four seconds.

Musixmatch had a rare stumble here, while Shazam remained consistent. SoundHound turned out to be really disappointing in this competition.

Round Three Winner: Shazam

And the Winner of the Best Song Finder App Is…

SoundHound comes in a distant third, as it correctly identified only one track out of six. On every other attempt it failed to identify the music, including one incorrect ID. With these 105 seconds of penalties, SoundHound finishes with a time of 121 seconds.

The other two fared much better. Shazam consistently identified songs in around 10 seconds, except for track 4 where it gave two different incorrect IDs. Tallying up its time, Shazam took 53 seconds to ID the songs. Adding the 30 penalty seconds gives us 83 seconds total for Shazam.

That leaves us with just Musixmatch. While the app stumbled a bit more than Shazam did, its overall time to ID was faster. Its total time was 33 seconds; adding penalties of 35 seconds means that Musixmatch finishes with a score of 68 seconds.

This means that the best song recognition app is Musixmatch!

The choice is clear on this one. Not only was Musixmatch the only app to identify track 3, but it consistently recognized songs in half the time that Shazam took. You can thus have confidence in Musixmatch as a great app to both display lyrics and identify music.

Which Music Identifier App Do You Prefer?

Were you surprised by these results? In the past, Shazam has come out on top, so Musixmatch must have been hard at work recently making its recognition system better. It’s a shame that the app has annoying ads, so if you don’t want to put up with them, Shazam is still a great choice. Any of these apps can help you identify music in YouTube videos.

If these tracks have got you wishing for fresh tunes, take a look at some ways to discover new music you will love 7+ Easy Ways to Discover New Music You Will 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 incredible list of resources just for you. Read More .

Related topics: Android Apps, Indie Music, iOS Apps, Music Discovery, Musixmatch, Shazam, SoundHound, Streaming Music.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. tonya
    February 16, 2020 at 6:56 am

    you know of at least ONE song recognizer app that can identify a reggae song??? have not found even ONE thT can ev3n recognize a damn popular commercialized sean paul song. crazy

  2. Rhiannon
    January 26, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    I was just wondering which music identifier is best at finding songs in movies & tv shows? I usually use Shazam and for the most part identifies the songs, but sometimes it can not identify the song by an unknown artist. I would just like to know what your opinion

    Thanks ahead of time for any info you have :)


  3. Anonymous
    October 2, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Ben, fun test! I am looking into the music ID space as well. I see that you created this article in May and commented last week. In your tests, were the songs playing from your phone as you were ID'ing with the apps or was the music playing from an external source? I only know of Shazam being able to ID and interact with music content on source app simultaneously using the "Pop-up" feature which was released in June.

    • Ben Stegner
      October 2, 2019 at 3:25 pm

      I played music through my desktop computer speakers with my phone sitting on my desk in front of me, so the music wasn't coming from the phone. Identifying music playing on the phone is an interesting use case, though.

      Some of the time, you'd be able to just check what the song was from the app. But that could come in handy for identifying music playing in a YouTube video or something like that.

  4. Ryan Abate
    September 27, 2019 at 4:48 am

    This is the most baseless test I've ever seen. You aren't testing music the majority of users will be looking up. You are choosing obscure tracks in an attempt to show how limited other apps are.

    Fact is this, SoundHound is better in most commonly used searches, faster and easily let's you tag your search. It's got far more real world uses like a display that allows you to follow the lyrics which is a real world application of the app. Pitiful bias review.

    • Ben Stegner
      September 27, 2019 at 3:44 pm

      My reasoning here is that these apps should easily know 99% of the popular music people will be looking up. There wouldn't be any point in running these tests with Post Malone or The Rolling Stones because every app is going to identify those almost immediately. Do you really care if your app identifies a track in three seconds compared to two?

      Thus I think it's more interesting to see how "smart" the apps really are by testing them with more obscure music. You might prefer one of the apps for its interface and features, but this was a straight test of music identification.

      I don't know how it's biased, as it wasn't like I picked music that I knew one app would identify but the others wouldn't.

  5. Seb
    December 1, 2017 at 4:51 am

    Try with Beatfind for android

  6. Somebody
    November 26, 2017 at 10:42 am

    What a biased result. A mismatch is a failure!! Who wants to know some random incorrect song?? A mismatch is in no way a better result than no match!!
    So the winner is not shazam. It failed once the runner up failed twice, but was much quicker so using your own penalty system for failed lookups it comprehensively beats shazam.
    However on pure matches shazam comes out top. Which ultimately is all that matters, no idea why time is even part of the equation??

    • Jon Swift
      April 8, 2018 at 7:39 pm

      Actually, a wrong answer is much worse than a "no answer".

  7. shao
    August 18, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    What about Asian songs? I had TrackID for a while and it was perfect, but since the service is shutting down, I need to know where to look for that.

  8. Josh
    July 26, 2017 at 11:44 am

    I chose shoundhound over shazem for the simple fact that shazem requests unreasonable permissions.

  9. Hugh
    May 18, 2017 at 6:31 am

    Fun article. Thanks.

    Consider penalizing wrong ID more than no ID. Wrong Id could send me on a wild goose chase.

    Also consider weighting penalty based on difficulty.

  10. Jim Carter
    November 24, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Pitiful test. I want immediate identification from the song intro. Additionally; I would have chosen songs from different eras and genres. In my unbiased tests, Google beats all these apps.

    • Ben Stegner
      November 24, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      Thanks, glad the two hours I spent here were appreciated.

      Google doesn't seem to provide its Sound ID widget anymore; thus I didn't test it here.

  11. Tara
    May 29, 2016 at 3:04 am

    Hello there! there is a song that I have been trying to find out the name of and who it is by for about 20 years now. The first time that I heard this song predates smartphones and predates Shazam and as a matter of fact it was a DJ friend of mine who made this mix and recorded it on to cassette tape for me and his girlfriend. I played that tape so much that it broke. Well, the very last song on that tape was my absolute favorite and to this day still is. I asked him repeatedly for months and months to tell me what the song was and who it was by what record he got it off of and he always refused to tell me. I've tried using Shazam when I heard the same song or at least part of it playing in the background of an astronomy show that I was watching on the Science Channel. Shaxam couldl not pick it up. Which app do you recommend to use to try and figure out what song this is.? It'sa song that I have been trying to find out what it is for about half of my life now. Can you please help me?

  12. kukekkk
    February 15, 2016 at 3:17 am

    The champion of MIREX2015 in audio fingerprinting algorithm competition, ACRCloud, and it provides audio recognition web service SDKs and APIs, which is easy to integrate, also supports singing and humming. So, there's nothing difficult to do audio recognition now.

  13. Anonymous
    May 6, 2015 at 9:34 am

    I find shazam can recognize classical well.its amazing

  14. Richard
    December 18, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    I would suggest trying some of the many of the orchestral pieces on the web. all of the pieces from Disney's fantasia and Fantasia 2000 are available, as well well as those from an Italian homage to fantasia called Allegro Non Troppo (which is a great movie by the way - ravel's Valse Triste and Debussy's Prelude de l'Apresmidi d'un Faun are favourites). The San Francisco Ballet's version of Strvinsky's Rite of Spring is also available on-line (and if the app can't recognise this one, I would declare it useless from classical.

    Rico P

  15. don
    September 24, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Seriously, I've used them all But Google Ears / Google Sound Search is the best out there.

    • Yaara L
      September 25, 2013 at 4:51 am

      As I mention in the post, Google decided to limit this to US only. It may have changes since, though.

  16. Zach
    July 4, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    I like how none of the songs were classical songs or orchestral pieces. These apps dont do very well finding even popular classical songs and that is a shame.

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 5, 2013 at 2:08 pm

      Well, I did include the Bear Mcreary track, which is instrumental, but I don't know many orchestral pieces to try. I believe some of them would have recognized the more famous classical pieces, but probably not the more obscure one. It's worth a try.

      • Zach
        July 5, 2013 at 6:54 pm

        Thanks for your reply. I was trying so hard to learn the name of this piece but was unable too. It may just be an obscure piece but like you said I just gave it a shot.

  17. richard Lowe
    June 13, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    After downloading Soundhound, Shazam and musixmatch, I played several tunes on a Steinway piano in mint condition including the Star Spangled Banner, Darn That Dream, It Could Happen to You and no match was found. Really great apps. Any ideas ?

    • Tina Sieber
      June 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm

      Maybe your input method is too sophisticated. Did you try to hum the tunes instead?

    • Yaara Lancet
      June 22, 2013 at 8:20 am

      I believe most of these apps work only with recordings of actual songs, so they might have a rough time with piano playing. Shazam is the only one that supports singing and humming, so it's the only one I would expect to work using this method. But even that might not be accurate. I guess mobile apps can't do everything just yet!

  18. salim benhouhou
    April 30, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    i tried Musixmatch it does a very good job

  19. Xeon Shu
    April 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    I am a Sony user and have TrackID as a stock apps.
    I tried several alternative including Shazam and SoundHound,but I chose to stick with TrackID as it has the simplest interface and it is a free and stock app, work well for me.Well,it's stock and free, just a little ads that didn't really annoy me,I might just as well live with it.

  20. macwitty
    April 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I have used Shazam for a while and good to know I can stay ; But also good to know the alternative when Shazam fail

  21. Nevzat A
    April 30, 2013 at 9:39 am

    I don't know what happened to good old SoundHound but it can't recognize the songs properly anymore. It used to be my fav. :(

  22. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    April 29, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Ignore my earlier comment. Was supposed to delete it, but clicked 'post' instead. After reading the post again, it's clear that TrackID is still as good as ever in finding rare tracks.

    • Yaara Lancet
      April 30, 2013 at 6:06 am

      Got it. :) TrackID indeed is a pretty good app, it managed to completely surprise me a couple of times!

      • AdriaNnLA
        October 16, 2017 at 12:19 pm

        and... its gone. :(

        • Seb
          December 1, 2017 at 4:52 am

          Try with Beatfind for android

  23. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    April 29, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Back in 2009's, before TrackID was still a preinstalled app in some Sony Ericsson's phones, it was pretty impressive, managed to find almost everything I threw including obscure tracks and tracks in Chinese and Japanese. Too bad the current incarnation sounds so poor.