How much does it cost to make an app like Shazam

ThinkMobiles Team 19/04/2017

With one billion downloads reached in March of 2017 we can confidently say Shazam is one of the most popular mobile apps globally. We can also award it as one of the most influential and profit-driving as it accounts for over 5% of all music downloads. This is the reason we’ve decided to research how much does it cost to make an app like Shazam for anyone interested.

A mobile app (get it for iPhone and Android) that helps you recognize a song and gives you as much related information as possible. We often hear a familiar tune and can not remember the artist, or hear a nice song and want to know the band and download it. Shazam solves this issue almost perfectly. In one tap and for free you can discover a track and artist, find lyrics and videos, etc.

Number of daily clicks on ads in Shazam:
1.1 million

So how can we build an app similar to Shazam? What is the cost to make an app like Shazam? How does Shazam app work? Let’s dive in.

How does Shazam work?

Shazam is the music identification app that helps millions of people to identify music around them instantly. With it you are able to discover artists and tracks, and buy the music directly through the app. Just Shazam it! As the music is playing, open the app and tap the main button. The app fingerprints the audio and matches it against its database.

Shazam database of audio and TV shows is impressive, rest assured it would find you even the weirdest and underground artists. Once a track is recognized, users get its name, the artist and other related data. Artist biography, videos, song lyrics, and more. It’s just magical and works not only on mobile devices, but on Mac or standard PC, on wearables as well.

Shazam features

The quest of making a music app like Shazam starts with app’s functionality. Here is a visual summary of Shazam features, and then we’ll describe it a bit more.

Shazam app features

These features, as one would have to decide upon, would be the driving factor to how much does it cost to make an app like Shazam. Music discovery working even offline or outside the app is the heart of it. App’s features are:

  • Music recognition: matching the database of collected millions of audio tracks to identify a playing song. Providing additional related information, in the case of Shazam – song title, album title and cover, artist, lyrics, videos, etc.
  • Playlists that are automatically compiled based on users Shazams (recognized songs and artists) as a way to find new music.
  • Buying music that has been discovered and played on mobile phone or computer through iTunes, Google Play or Amazon and other services. Shazam is constantly seeking new partnerships with such services and artists which can promote themselves.
  • User accounts: you need to be logged in to be able to tag music, save playlists or buy music. To develop an app like Shazam login with email and/or social media accounts is a familiar and obligatory task.
  • Social sharing of favorite music with friends on social media, while one has to be signed in via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, WhatsApp or Pinterest. Additionally, through Facebook account you can see what your friends are ‘shazaming’.
  • Offline mode to discover music even when you have no internet signal. Audio will be recognized and identified when you go online.
  • More extra Shazam features like: visual recognition ability (images, book covers, QR-codes), favorite artists following, Shazam for Android Wear and Apple Watch, desktop application.

Shazam on Mac and other devices

What is cool about Shazam music app is that you can use it on Mac or any PC with microphone. Mac owners are able to enjoy a free Shazam for Mac app, curiously. In Windows 10 PCs Cortana, a virtual assistant, works with Shazam too to identify music via microphone. Shazam is also known to be one of the best apps for Android Wear, you’ll find it in all to-check-out lists.

Shazam for Mac

Technology to make an app like Shazam

Two most valuable things that make up the Shazam app are huge audio database (around 11 million songs) and audio search algorithm. To make a music identification app like Shazam you would need to construct similar search engine using so called ‘fingerprints’. For audio this means spectrograms – time frequency graphs.

A 10 second sample is enough for Shazam app to match and identify a song. It says a lot about their audio algorithm, which is massive and scalable, based on frequency constellation analysis. To make an app like Shazam with less effort one may use open source services, like EchoPrint. Of course, it is mainly for music identification though other practical uses like copyright detection are possible too. Note, that installing a server is required.

As database service Shazam uses Amazon DynamoDB and Amazon S3:

  • First one is a NoSQL database which is also a cloud-based service for any type of application. Fits nicely for mobile and web apps, gaming and IoT stuff.
  • Second, Simple Storage Service by Amazon (Amazon S3) is the object storage system with web interface with 99% durability and reliability record.
  • Amazon Route 53 DNS web service in addition.

Backend development

Generally, the first stage in all mobile application development process. To build the backend for an app like Shazam HTML5 (officially in use by this app vendor) or Python programming languages suit well. Aforementioned Amazon DB cloud storage services complement Shazam application architecture.

Users can access Shazam via various interfaces – iOS or Android mobile devices, wearable devices like Apple Watch, etc. Shazam for PC and Shazam for Mac are also available as user  options. As for app’s architecture, it would look somewhat in this manner:

cost to build app similar to Shazam, backend structure

RESTful API as a proper tool for data exchange in real-time. Fastly, Brandfolder, Amazon AWS or Cloudflare could be good vendors for content distribution (Shazam went with Fastly). New Relic or similar tool for app performance analysis and management is recommended too.

Backend estimation: 500 hours.

Cost components to Shazam-like app

Some of app entrepreneurs and businesses have already been trying to benefit from Shazam profit earning possibilities. Among apps similar to Shazam are SoundHound (Midomi), Firefly by Amazon, Bing music, TrackID by Sony, Musipedia. Surely, more projects are waiting in line wondering how much does it cost to make an app like Shazam.

The price of creating a Shazam-like mobile app would be impacted by following:

  • Set of features to implement
  • Features complexity
  • Technologies and backend
  • Ready existing tools or develop your own
  • Custom animation, design and UI/UX elements
  • Developer rate by hour

Main cost components to build an app similar to Shazam are backend, design, native platforms, web application and testing. You may hire a freelance developer or mobile app development company to go faster with more resources at hand. With latter option you’ll get tasks assigned to teams according to their expertise. So probably the better result overall.

Native platforms development

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Once Shazam backend architecture is done, comes the most time-consuming part of development for Android, iPhone, Windows Phone or whatever platform of your choice. If you have limited budget, choosing a single native platform is a coherent option. To cover the largest market segment stick with a pair of iOS and Android.

To calculate the cost of making an app like Shazam let’s divide the whole process. Users module, with sign up, login, settings, song/artist details, following, would take up to 800 hours. 400 hours needed for communication module, with push notifications, location, etc. Add 300 hours for Android Wear module, ads, animations.

Single platform development estimation: 1500 hours.

In conclusion

Once again, for purposes of our estimation of cost to build an app like Shazam we’ll go with $50 developer rate per hour. This is market medium rate as of 2017, with lowest rates in India/South Asia and highest ones in the USA/UK/Australia. With all factors and resources elaborated upon above, here is the cost for Shazam-like app:

iOS application Android application App for all platforms
Backend $25.000 $25.000
Development $70.000 $75.000 $145.000
Design/UX $10.000 $10.000 $20.000
Web/desktop $5.000 $5.000
QA/PM $5.000 $5.000 $10.000
Total cost (approx.) $115.000 $120.000 $235.000

The lion’s share in the whole project would go to actual app development and backend for it. Though do not neglect design, Shazam desktop app, quality assurance, as well as continuous management. Now, finally, the answer to our question: how much does it cost to make an app like Shazam.

A single platform app like Shazam would cost about $115.000 – 120.000 to make at median $50 developer rate. The same version but at $30 rate like we work at ThinkMobiles, would cost nearly $70.000. A more expensive agency hired, custom or extra features will clearly increase it. Music app for both Android/iOS would cost $235.000 or more, depending on same factors.

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