Shazam: What Song is Playing?

I once spent almost 3 months trying to track down a song that I had heard a few times on the car radio while commuting to and from work back in 2000. I was pulling my hair out because I kept missing the DJ to catch the name of the record. To make things worse, the track was an instrumental so I couldn’t find the lyrics on Google (which had launched just a year or two prior). I managed to catch that it was a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, but it still took me another few weeks to finally identify “S. R. V.” by Eric Johnson, written to honor one of my all-time favorite musicians.

If only I’d had an iPhone. And Shazam.

Shazam is possibly the coolest application that I have seen on the iPhone. If you haven’t seen it yet (how is that possible?), the software is pretty straightforward — it uses the built-in microphone on the iPhone to take a 15 second sample of music. It then sends that sample to the Shazam elves over the Intertubes who toil away night and day to compare that sonic signature to a database of almost 5 million pieces of recorded music. Once a match has been found, Shazam shows you the artist and track information and provides links to purchase the song in the iTunes music store or watch a video on YouTube. It saves a list of songs you have “tagged” with Shazam and lets you email the links. Frankly, it’s amazing to watch as it works and is one of the first apps I show to friends who haven’t played with an iPhone.

Shazam does a pretty good job of picking up background music so it works great to pick up songs playing on the car radio. If you’ve ever had that experience of wanting to know the title of a song you just missed, run, don’t walk, to download Shazam from the iTunes App Store.

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