Can Amazon Echo Identify Songs (Shazam Style)? [Not quite…] – New Video

Amazon Echo is a useful smart speaker: it has multiple microphones to listen to external sounds, and it can also play music.

So… y’know… surely it can listen to playing music and tell you what song is playing, right? After all, Shazam can do this fine?

Well as it turns out… NO, no it can’t. Amazon Echo doesn’t have any sort of “Shazam” skill, for privacy reasons. Thankfully there is a half-decent alternative: asking your Echo to play a song that contains a particular song lyric.

Video Transcript

Hello, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. When you hear a song playing somewhere, and you want to know what song it is, it’s common to open Shazam on your phone and within seconds you’ll know exactly what song is playing. Since Amazon Echo devices can play music AND they have a microphone to listen to external sounds, you might be wondering whether Echos can ALSO recognize what song is playing?

Well unfortunately, the answer is no… not really. There is no Shazam skill available on your Echo devices, so you can’t simply ask your Echo device to listen out and identify a playing song. This is actually by design – Amazon don’t really want third party skill developers to be able to listen in on everything around an Echo device for obvious privacy reasons.

Despite this, there are a couple of ways you can (sort of) identify songs via an Echo device. Firstly, if the Echo device itself is playing music, you can simply ask “what song is this?” and it’ll respond with the song name and artist. For example:

[Me] “Alexa, what song is this?”

[Echo] “This is Hello by Adele”

But if the song ISN’T playing on an Echo device, you’re not completely out of options. You can ask your Echo device to play the song that has a particular song lyric – for example:

[Me] “Alexa, play the song that goes ‘Life Is Old There, Older Than The Trees’ “

[Echo] “Here’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ by John Denver, on Amazon Music”

If you’re in the mood for singing, you can even sing the song lyrics:

[Me] “Alexa, play the song that goes ‘Life Is Old There, Older Than The Trees’ “

[Echo] “Here’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ by John Denver, on Amazon Music”

[Me] “West Virginia, mountain mama. Take me home – uh oh, I’m still recording”.

Uhh.. yeah, so that feature actually works fairly well, but of course you have to remember the lyrics fairly accurately. It’s no good if you only remember a part of the background music, or you don’t know the exact song lyrics.

There’s times where I’ve got the lyrics slightly wrong, and the Echo has played a completely different song by mistake. Plus if you just say “Alexa, play the song…” and miss out the words “that goes” – in other words you don’t say “play the song that goes [blah blah blah]…” – it’ll also play a completely random song.

So this is nowhere near as smooth as simply using Shazam, but this approach is better than nothing. And that wraps up today’s fairly brief video – if you’re interested in smart homes, please click the subscribe button to get more tips, tricks and updates. If you enjoyed this video, please click the thumbs up button. Thank you!

About Tristan Perry

Tristan Perry is a software developer who is passionate about tech gadgets, DIY and housing. He has therefore loved seeing smart homes hit the mainstream. Tristan also has an academic background (in Math & Computer Science), and so he enjoys digging into the technical ways that smart home devices work.

Tristan owns close to a dozen Amazon Echo devices, way too many Philips Hue bulbs and lightstrips, a boat-load of Ring Cameras and Doorbells... and a bunch of other smart home devices too (from Reolink, Google Nest, GLEDOPTO and others).

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

10 thoughts on “Can Amazon Echo Identify Songs (Shazam Style)? [Not quite…] – New Video”

  1. The ability to ask Alexa the name of the song depends on the source. For example, it doesn’t work if you’re streaming using the sirius radio skill.

  2. Internet radio stations often provide info about the track they are currently playing. Alexa appears to be unable to access that information afaict. Shouldn’t be that difficult I would have thought…

  3. Would be nice if you had a piece of music with no singing playing on a movie and you want to know the name of it. Things like classical pieces would be great to be able to identify.

  4. All of a sudden when I search Shazam for a song playing on an Echo Dot, the Dot disconnects. It has been working fine until last week.

    • That’s very odd. So is Shazam on your phone, and the phone is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Echo Dot? If so, it almost sounds like a Wi-Fi interference issue (because Shazam and Amazon Music are two separate services), although that sounds unlikely too. Maybe try connecting your phone to mobile data and trying again? If that works okay, it could be some weird Wi-Fi issue that requires a router reboot.


Leave a Comment