Is Shazam App Able to Recognize Bollywood Songs?

Have you ever heard a catchy Bollywood song playing in a store or restaurant and wondered what it was called or who sang it? With the Shazam app, you can easily identify Bollywood songs by recording a short sample. But does Shazam actually recognize songs from Bollywood films? Let’s take a closer look at how Shazam works and its ability to identify music from the world’s largest film industry.


Is Shazam app able to recognize Bollywood songs? This is a question many Bollywood music fans have wondered, as Shazam is one of the most popular song recognition apps available worldwide. With a database of over 20 million songs, Shazam can identify music playing around you within seconds. But its recognition abilities vary across genres and languages.

Bollywood songs have some unique qualities that present challenges for audio recognition algorithms. Unlike Western pop music, Bollywood songs integrate various Indian classical and folk music influences. The vocals rely heavily on Hindustani classical styles like thumri, dadra, ghazal, and qawwali. The melodies and vocal renditions involve improvisation and ornamentation not typically found in Western pop vocals.

Let’s break down how Shazam’s technology works and the factors that impact its ability to recognize Bollywood songs accurately. We’ll also provide some tips for improving results and discuss some limitations. Understanding Shazam’s capabilities and limitations can help Bollywood music enthusiasts use the app effectively and identify songs reliably.

How Does Shazam Recognize Songs?

Before looking specifically at Bollywood music, it helps to understand how Shazam recognizes any song. The app uses a patented audio fingerprinting technology to identify songs.

Is Shazam app able to recognize Bollywood songs? When you open the Shazam app and hold your device’s microphone near a music source, it records a brief sample of the audio (typically 5-10 seconds). Shazam’s algorithm then creates a unique acoustic fingerprint of this audio sample based on specific sonic components.

This fingerprint contains summarized info about various acoustic features like the tempo, pitch, rhythms, melodic contours, harmonies, timbres, and textures. Shazam matches this fingerprint against its vast global database of pre-computed audio fingerprints for millions of tracks.

If it finds a match, it displays the song title, artist name, album, and other metadata. This all happens in seconds.

So in summary, Shazam recognizes songs by:

  • Recording a brief audio sample
  • Creating a unique acoustic fingerprint
  • Matching the fingerprint to its database
  • Displaying song information

This technology enables it to identify songs rapidly even in noisy environments. But there are still factors that impact accuracy.

Shazam’s Database of Bollywood Music

A key factor in Shazam’s ability to recognize Bollywood songs is the size and diversity of Bollywood content in its proprietary database.

Is Shazam app able to recognize Bollywood songs? With Bollywood producing over 1000 films per year, compiling a comprehensive catalog is an ongoing task.

According to Shazam, their database already includes over 150,000 Bollywood songs. They claim to be adding more Bollywood content continuously based on popularity and user requests.

The database includes Bollywood songs going back to the 1950s up to the latest contemporary hits. But classical and folk songs featured in films may not be as widely included. Songs from indie Bollywood films may also be missing.

So while the database is substantial, it does not encompass the entirety of Bollywood recordings, especially more obscure tracks. Popular hit songs have a much higher chance of recognition.

Factors That Impact Shazam’s Recognition Abilities

Is Shazam app able to recognize Bollywood songs? In addition to its database coverage, there are technical factors around Bollywood song properties that affect accurate identification:

  • Audio Quality: Lower bitrate compressed audio makes it harder to create a detailed fingerprint.
  • Background Noise: Noisy environments with talking, traffic, etc. degrade the audio sample.
  • Reverb and Echo: Heavy reverb and echo effects alter the sonic signature.
  • Vocal Ornamentation: Melismatic embellishments and vocal improvisation distort the original melody.
  • Pitch Shifting: Vocals are sometimes pitched up or down to suit the singer.
  • Tempo Fluctuations: Some songs speed up or slow down from the original.
  • Instruments and Mixing: Prominent sitar, tabla, dholak, etc. can mask vocal frequencies.
  • Classical Ragas: Notes used in Hindustani classical ragas may confuse Western melodic models.

So Bollywood songs can present challenges. But there are some tips to get better results from Shazam…

Tips for Improving Bollywood Song Recognition

If you find Shazam struggling with some Bollywood tracks, here are some tips to improve its recognition abilities:

  • Isolate the chorus: The chorus generally has the clearest melodic hook, so isolate a sample from the chorus section.
  • Get closer: Get the microphone within a few inches of your audio source to minimize background noise.
  • Increase the volume: Turn up the volume on your music player or TV to capture a cleaner sample.
  • Minimize talking: Ask people to stop talking during sampling to avoid voice contamination.
  • Try a clearer version: Use a studio recording or high-bitrate audio file to sample from instead of a low-quality YouTube video.
  • Sample longer: Capture a 10-15 second sample to give Shazam’s algorithm more data to work with.
  • Hum or sing: You can also hum or sing the melody yourself if the instrumental soundtrack is confusing Shazam.

With some tweaking, you can often get Shazam to successfully recognize tricky Bollywood songs. But there are still some limitations…

Limitations of Shazam for Bollywood Music

While Shazam’s Bollywood song database is expanding, there are still some blind spots:

  • Obscure and indie movies: Songs from low-budget and art house films are less likely to be cataloged.
  • Older classic songs: Golden era songs from the 1950s-1970s may be missing.
  • Background score: Instrumental background music is rarely identifiable.
  • Missing metadata: Song titles and artist names may be mislabeled or missing.
  • Live performances: Live renditions and concert recordings often confuse it.
  • Heavy remixes: Heavily remixed, sampled, and edited versions are essentially new recordings.
  • Regional languages: Songs from South Indian, Bengali, Marathi, and other regional films have smaller representation.

So Shazam has some limitations with Bollywood content. Thankfully there are some alternative apps you can try…

Alternative Apps for Identifying Bollywood Songs

If you find Shazam struggling to recognize a Bollywood song, here are some alternative apps to try:

  • SoundHound: Has a competitive audio recognition engine and also lets you hum a melody.
  • Midomi: Another humming-based song ID app worth trying as a backup option.
  • Musixmatch: Focuses more on lyrics but can ID songs through lyrics search and humming. Has a huge global song database.
  • Genius: Specializes in pulling up song lyrics but also integrates audio recognition via Shazam’s algorithm.
  • Tunefind: More specialized for identifying songs from TV shows and films. May help with Bollywood songs heard on soundtracks.
  • TrackID: Created by Sony for identifying their music catalogue, including Bollywood labels.

Having 2-3 options beside Shazam improves your chances of identifying any Bollywood song.

Is Shazam’s Recognition of Bollywood Songs Improving?

The good news is that Shazam’s capabilities with Bollywood music are consistently improving over time. Here are some positive signs:

  • Bollywood fingerprinting is now handled by a specialized India-based team.
  • Machine learning helps train the algorithms on new Bollywood data.
  • Crowdsourcing flags missing content to add to the database.
  • Partnerships with Bollywood labels like T-Series bring in new content.
  • Generational shifts mean younger singers use less elaborate ornamentation.
  • Shazam added specialized recognition for instruments like sitar and tabla.
  • The apps now recognize humming and singing, resolving soundtrack issues.

So Bollywood fans can expect Shazam’s recognition rates to get better, even if some songs still pose a challenge. The technology limitations are being incrementally addressed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Does Shazam work for all Bollywood songs?

No, Shazam does not recognize all Bollywood songs. Its success rate is higher for popular contemporary hits but lower for older, indie, and remixed tracks.

Why doesn’t Shazam identify some Bollywood songs?

Reasons Shazam may fail to recognize some Bollywood songs include vocal ornamentation confusing the algorithm, insufficient sample length, background noise, and the track not being in Shazam’s database.

What Bollywood songs does Shazam recognize best?

Shazam tends to most easily recognize the hit soundtrack songs from mainstream Bollywood films of the past decade. Popular songs get added quicker.

What Bollywood songs does Shazam struggle with?

Shazam has more trouble identifying older classic songs from the 1950s-70s, obscure indie tracks, songs with heavy vocal improvisation, and remixes.

How can I improve Shazam’s success with Bollywood music?

Tips to improve results include isolating the chorus, getting closer to the source, turning up the volume, sampling longer, and humming/singing the melody yourself.

What apps can identify Bollywood songs besides Shazam?

Good alternatives to try when Shazam fails include SoundHound, Musixmatch, Midomi, TrackID, Tunefind, and Genius.

Is Shazam improving its recognition of Bollywood content?

Yes, Shazam is continuously adding more Bollywood content to its database, training its algorithm on new data, and incorporating technology like humming recognition to improve success rates.


Is Shazam app able to recognize Bollywood songs? In most cases – yes, Shazam can successfully identify popular contemporary Bollywood hits, especially from the choruses. Its ever-expanding database now includes over 150,000 Bollywood song fingerprints. But it still faces challenges with older classic songs, indie tracks, heavily remixed versions, and songs with complex vocal ornamentation. By understanding Shazam’s audio recognition capabilities and limitations, Bollywood enthusiasts can learn to improve its success rate by sampling strategically. Alternative apps like SoundHound and Musixmatch also provide back-up options. As machine learning and partnerships expand Shazam’s Bollywood catalog, song recognition abilities will continue to improve over time.

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