How to make an app like Shazam?

Addevice
6 min readApr 19, 2023

Ever wondered how to make an app like Shazam? Or are you planning to invest in a Shazam-like app?

Shazam and similar sound and music identification applications are no longer innovations. We are used to the comfort of getting immediate results, and one can hardly remember the days when we struggled to find a song we were humming the whole day. Maybe there was something romantic about that time, but it was definitely not productive. Today, in a few seconds, you can recognize a song you heard on the radio or in a club just by using your phone.

As an average user, one hardly thinks of the technologies hidden behind music-recognition applications, but as a businessman or a software development agency, an app like Shazam can be an excellent investment opportunity. Let’s go deeper into how to make an app like Shazam from the perspective of a business and a developer.

What software does Shazam use?

The primary function of Shazam is to detect the music you are trying to identify. But how? Shazam uses a proprietary audio fingerprinting technology that analyzes a snippet of audio and compares it to its database of millions of songs to find a match.

The audio fingerprinting technology works by breaking down a song into tiny pieces of audio called “fingerprints.” These fingerprints are created by analyzing the audio waveform of a song and extracting three unique features: amplitude, frequency, and time. What a mystery revealed! Shazam never identified lyrics or rhythm but rather worked as a machine analyzing deeper sound elements.

Shazam’s database contains these audio fingerprints for millions of songs. The database grows with new songs every day, if not more frequently, allowing the app to quickly compare the audio snippet it receives from a user’s device to find a match. The matching process takes just a few seconds, and the result is displayed on the user’s device along with information about the song, artist, and album.

In terms of technical details, Shazam’s audio recognition engine is built using a combination of machine learning and signal processing algorithms. The system uses deep neural networks to analyze the audio waveform and extract the relevant features and then uses pattern recognition algorithms to match the audio snippet to its database of fingerprints.

Shazam’s audio recognition technology also takes into account factors such as background noise and audio quality. You have definitely tried to identify music in a club or bar with noise, and you succeeded. The matching process’s accuracy is intended to work in real-world situations where users may be listening to music in noisy environments or using low-quality audio devices.

In 2021, Shazam released ShazamKit, a software development kit (SDK) that allows developers to integrate Shazam’s music recognition technology into their own apps. It is a new opportunity for developers to create innovative music-related experiences for their users by adding unique features.

What are the features of a Shazam-like app?

The first version of your application will have limited “must-have features” to validate your idea. With future iterations, you can define “should-have” and “could-have” features. In the end, you will have the following set of features, plus the value proposition that will make your app unique.

  1. Music identification: Identifying the sound in 10 seconds and generating a response by picking a match from a database.
  2. Song lyrics: Displaying the lyrics to a song while it’s playing and allowing users to sing along and learn the words.
  3. Music videos: Displaying music videos for songs and offering users to watch within the app.
  4. Personalized recommendations: Generating personalized music recommendations based on the user’s history.
  5. Charts: The list of most searched songs in different countries and genres.
  6. Offline mode: Identifying songs even if the device is offline by saving the identification for later when the device is back online.
  7. Integration with streaming services: Third-party integration to help users listen to the songs users have identified on other platforms as well.
  8. Social sharing: Allowing users to share music discoveries on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
  9. Discover new artists: Discovering new artists by providing information about the artist and their discography.
  10. Advertisements: Displaying targeted advertisements to users based on their music preferences and history.
  11. Accessibility: Adding voice commands to make the app accessible to users with difficulty navigating the interface.

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In 2022, Shazam surpassed 2 billion installs. Every day, 20 million new songs are Shazammed by fans, and the number is growing at an exponential rate. It will be hard to compete with such a giant, but who said crazy ideas would never pay off? After all, Shazam wasn’t “Shazam” when it started, and there is always room in the market for innovative solutions.

So the answer to the question “Should you think of investing in a Shazam-like app? is “Absolutely YES.” Would it cost much? Probably. Depends. The cost of Shazam-like app development depends on several factors:

  • Features’ set
  • Features’ complexity
  • The choice of developing tools from scratch or using existing ones
  • Tech stack and backend
  • Agency location and rate

Developing an app like Shazam requires expertise in audio processing, database management, and machine learning algorithms. It may also involve integrating with third-party APIs for music recognition and metadata. On average, the cost of developing an app like Shazam can range from $50,000 to $150,000 for an MVP, depending on the project’s scope and requirements.

How does the Shazam app make money?

Having a great app is one thing; making money on this app is a totally different thing and sometimes even more challenging.

Before becoming part of the Apple family, Shazam generated revenue by selling advertising spots to third parties. It also offered premium features with Shazam Encore. Today, Shazam is free, but how does a free app make money? Shazam has two monetization systems:

Digital sales: Every time you Shazam a song, the app offers you the option to purchase it on iTunes. Every new purchase adds revenue to the app.

User data: Operating already for 20 years, Shazam has an enormous user database that is now used as an indirect revenue source. Leveraging user data, Apple builds its marketing and targeting campaigns for Shazam and other Apple products.

Those two monetization strategies may not be optional for a startup. Other monetization strategies for a Shazam-like app may be advertising and affiliate partnerships. For example, the app shows ads to users during the search process, and advertisers pay the app based on the number of impressions or clicks. Shazam-like apps may also earn revenue through affiliate partnerships with music streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora. When a user discovers a song using your app, the app offers links to purchase or stream the song on these platforms, and Shazam receives a commission for each click or purchase made through its app.

Conclusion

Developing an app like Shazam requires expertise in audio processing, database management, and machine learning algorithms. While it may be challenging to replicate Shazam’s proprietary audio fingerprinting technology, developers can use ShazamKit or third-party audio fingerprinting libraries to build similar apps. The initial investment to make an app like Shazam can range from $50,000 to $150,000, depending on the project’s scope and requirements. With a reliable software development agency and powerful marketing, the application will surely have a bright future on the market.

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