Does Shazam help or hinder our party time?

I go to a DJ set to generally prance around like an idiot, forgetting about any stress that’s been building up. I embrace every backbeat and shuffling hi-hat like it’s my long-lost friend I thought I’d never see again. Getting taken by the rhythms is my main goal, whether I know the tunes or not.

However, something that has forever plagued me since I first set foot in the rave is the annoying itch I get when I hear something I know yet can’t name it. It might be a little loop they’ve used and the track is barely recognisable, so I have to play it in my head and try to remember what comes next.

It’s as if I’m a music encyclopaedia and if my head doesn’t name the song as soon as possible, impending doom will prevail, AKA mentally kicking myself. Sometimes, I’ll video ten seconds of the mix and play it back realising how unidentifiable it is.

This problem, as well as the obvious – wanting to know what a song we’ve not heard before is – is seemingly solved by music-identifying app Shazam.

At first, I was cynical of the app, not believing it could know every song released, but as I came to use it I delighted in the joy of multiple matches coming through. You can even use it offline and save the track snippets for when you have an internet connection.

Some of us are secret Shazamers while others wave it about for all to see. Maybe they’re obnoxious. Or maybe they just want to interact with strangers, because if the track’s a real showstopper that’s what they’ll find themselves doing. Sharing a Shazam match with a stranger is good rave etiquette.

Shazam has been entirely heroic at times, connecting me with incredible music, and of course rather useless during other times. It can match the most random tracks that couldn’t be further away from the truth. There’s also the issue when it’s unreleased or vinyl only weaponry and Shazam will never return any results.

Though it has saved me from endlessly searching the web, I can’t help feeling that it spoils some of what makes dance music so special. Part, if not most of the magic transpires from discovery as an audience. Before Shazam, the track would pass you by and you could only hope to find it one day.

When you’re thinking “what the fuck is that?” and you can find out my clicking a button, why wouldn’t you be scrambling into your pockets? But, it’s impossible to immerse fully in the moment when you’re clasping to unlock your iPhone.

Regardless, DJs aware of these ongoings, and intent on keeping their precious gems undiscovered can hinder the app’s ability.

Shazam has revolutionised how we find music but it can never replay how you felt the first moment you heard it.

However important the urge to know a song right there and now, let’s vow to put our enjoyment first during summer 2016. Not allowing a ‘no matches’ to spoil our experience, and instead bask in the DJ’s quality record collection. You could always tweet the selector after with your “ID???” queries… Yeah, literally bombard their mentions.


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