Music is all around us: on the radio as we drive, playing on the loudspeakers while we shop, going on in the background of our favorite hangouts. And while each day brings us more and more apps and services to stream, download, or purchase music, on avenue that was woefully overlooked for the longest time was identifying songs. This is why one of my favorite apps to come out in the past few years is Shazam. However, as much as I rely on this app, I know there are still several people who aren’t super familiar with it. Which is why, in this article, I’m going to tell you more about Shazam, and also tell you how to get this great free app for your Mac or your PC, as well as how to set up a web-based (online) version of Shazam.
It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature and everlasting beauty of monotony. — Benjamin Britten
What is Shazam
In the almost unmeasurable sea of apps that flood our phones, tablets, and computers, a large portion of them are music apps: Beats, Spotify, the ubiquitous iTunes… So much so that I fear that when Shazam came out, it was little more than white noise. (Which is to say nothing of apps like Sleep Pillow Sounds, which are iOS apps that generate — you guessed it — white noise.)
But Shazam is something different. It doesn’t try to distinguish itself by giving you a slightly different way to experience music in a downloaded or streaming capacity (at least, not primarily, but more on that in a minute). Shazam integrates nicely with the music you’re already experiencing, simply by identifying ambient music. Put this free app on your iPhone (or Android device, or Blackberry… Shazam is even available for the Windows Phone!), and when you hear a song you can’t quite place, or a song that you’re hearing for the first time and just love, you whip out this app, and it will tell you what it is and who plays it.
And for someone like me, this is great. I’m always somewhere where there’s music going, and I’m always trying to broaden my horizons and add to my music collection, but when I sit down at the iTunes store to download a new album, I’m completely lost at sea as to what to get — especially when I’ve got no way to know what that great song I had heard at the coffee shop earlier was.
Also, the latest generations of this app offer integration with iTunes, which means that once you’ve identified a song, you can buy and download it immediately.
Using Shazam on Mac
Regular readers of Appamatix will know that we are no strangers to helping our readers install on their computers apps that are designed only for smart phones or tablets. And as I was tooling around with Shazam earlier, I fully expected to do the same thing for this one. However, unlike a lot of the app developers that are out there today, the team behind Shazam recognizes that people don’t want to be futzing with their phones all day. Shazam has special versions that are available for Mac. This application can be set up to run in the background of your computer, and will just passively identify the music your computer overhears.
In order to get this software, just follow these simple steps.
- Head over to the Shazam website.
- Click on the “Apps” link in the upper left corner.
- Scroll down, past the smart phone versions, to “Shazam for Mac.”
- Click download.
- Download and install the .dmg file.
It’s as simple as that.
Using Shazam on a PC
Of course, it would be too much to ask that the team behind Shazam, when branching out beyond the smart phone crowd, should also develop a .exe for Windows users. Maybe they will get to it eventually, once they feel their current products are sufficiently supported and that there is an appreciable market for the port, but as someone with a couple of decades of personal computing under his belt, I have to say it’s interesting that we’ve come to a point where the Mac version is first, and the Windows version is an afterthought. There may be any number of reasons why this is: perhaps Shazam was developed primarily with Mac hardware, making a Windows port more of a challenge than a Mac one. Or maybe the delay in the adaption of Shazam for PCs is part of the deal Shazam struck in order to have that wonderful iTunes integration.
Whatever the reason, though, the end result is the same: there is currently no Shazam for PC. Those of you who are PC users who want to use this wonderful app will need to consider the following workaround.
Please note, there are websites out there that advertise a PC version of Shazam. Be aware that these are not officially licensed by Shazam. If they were, they would be available on the Shazam website. No, such websites are really only doing the sort of workarounds I’m about to give you, with one important difference, which I’ll get into in a moment.
It will come as a shock to no one, especially no one who has been reading Appamatix, that we’re going to use emulation. Basically, we’re going to take one of the platforms which Shazam is available for, emulate it on our PC, and then install the program file on our emulated device. Now, since Shazam is available for so many different platforms (basically, everything except PC, which I continue to find quite funny), you have your choice of platforms to emulate. However, I continue to have the most success with Android emulation. (I will admit, I haven’t even started to play around with Windows Phone emulation, so I don’t even know what that ecosystem looks like. If anybody in the Appamatix community has any experience with WP emulators, let me know about it in the comments.)
Even within Android emulation, you have a number of great options (as I have covered before), but once again, I’m leaning towards my favorite Andyroid, which is a free emulator that I’ve been very happy with. In fact, I prefer it over some of the paid emulators I’ve worked with.
In order to use Andyroid, and thus get Shazam on your PC, just follow these simple steps:
Note: You may find that you have more success with this trick if you have a Google Play Store account. As with Andyroid and Shazam itself, this is completely free but you will need to pick out a username and a password. The reason you need to sign up is because you will have to download the Shazam apk file to upload into the emulator. If you have an Android device then… well… congratulations. You can skip ahead to the numbers. If you don’t own an Android then you will need to find a friend or family member that has one and login to your Google Play account on their device. (This usually isn’t a problem, because I find my Android using friends are much less overprotective of their devices than my iPhone using friends.) This will make it so that your account is verified with a device and allow you to download apps. You only need to do this once.
- Now that you’ve signed up for Google Play you can head over to Andyroid and download your copy of the emulator.
- When the download is finished, click the install file and go through the steps that it asks you to finish the installation.
- After that’s done, you will notice an option to do a 1-click sync with your Google Play account. I recommend doing this as it will sync all of your apps on your Google Play profile onto your emulator. Make sure you allow Andyroid access to your Google Play account if it asks for permission.
- You may notice that Shazam automatically installs onto your emulator. If it doesn’t then simply double click the little shopping bag icon at the bottom and from there search for Shazam to download.
- Go through the download process and once you have it on Andyroid you will be able to start up Shazam on your PC, and can now use the app on any device, just like you wanted.
That “important difference” I mentioned earlier about sites that claim to have the PC version of Shazam: These sites are really only doing what I just told you, which you can do yourself. Now, I’ve not worked with the files from these sites personally, so I make no claims about them. However, if I can compile something like this myself, I prefer to — when a third party is setting this up, it would be difficult to see if there is any malicious code put in. Once again, I am making no claims about any of these sites, and I have heard no reports of this kind. It’s just, with so much of our business being done online, it pays to be circumspect.
How to Use Shazam Online
There is yet another way to experience Shazam, also a tetch beyond what the design team intended, and that is online emulation. Basically, this is the same as the emulation for PC, with a key difference: instead of the emulator being downloaded to your computer, it’s (mostly) browser based, which means that once you have everything set up, you can access it from any computer. This could be an alternate way to work with Shazam if you have a PC. However, even if you have a Mac, you may want to consider this: Shazam for Mac will let you use Shazam on your Mac. But if you have an online emulation set up, you can access your Shazam from any computer with an internet connection — making this a great fit for those of you who currently have to make do with shared computers, such as in labs or libraries.
This will play out pretty much the same way as working with Andyroid, with one exception: we’re going to be using the web-based Manymo.
- Once you have access to the Google Play account, download the Shazam apk file to use on the online emulator. To do so, go to play.google.com and download the Shazam file to your desktop to use with the online emulator.
- Now, head over to Manymo, where you can sign up for an account. Although you need to sign up, you don’t need to pay anything: this is just to keep your emulated Android separate from everybody else’s.
- Once you’ve signed up and logged in, you’ll see you can choose screen size. I recommend you go for a screen size that’s close to your computer’s, so you’ll get the best resolution. (Fortunately, Android was producing oversized “phablet” phones long before Apple.)
- At the top right, you’ll see an option to launch the emulator with an app. When you click on it, it will prompt you to upload the app you want to launch. This is where you’ll use the .apk file you dowloaded earlier.
And that’s pretty much it. You are now ready to use Shazam online.
I hope I’ve been able to make everybody better aware of Shazam, as well as walk you through how to use Shazam on your PC, Mac, or Online. If you have any questions about anything we’ve covered here, or any suggestions for alternate ways to go about this, feel free to mention them in the comments.