Cortana identify music
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How to identify music around you with Cortana

Want to know what song is currently playing when you’re at the coffee shop or the club? Cortana can help (if you have the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers). It’s quite simple. Head past the break to watch our quick how-to video.

  1. Bring up Cortana by clicking the search button or clicking her live tile.
  2. Click the music note symbol at the top right corner.
  3. That’s it! Cortana will listen to what’s playing and display the result in a few seconds.

Another way to recognize a song is by holding the search button, and asking Cortana, “What’s playing right now?” Cortana shows the album art, title and artist. Clicking on the song opens Xbox Music. You can then purchase the song or the whole album.

Cortana identify music screenshot

There are a couple of apps you might want to check out if you need more options to identify music. Shazam and Soundhound are great alternatives.

Note: Cortana and Music ID are region restricted, mostly to the US and a few other locations. If you do not see the icon described in this article, then you are probably in a non-supported region. Sorry!

Do you like this feature on Cortana with Windows Phone 8.1? Let us know in the comments!

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Reader comments

How to identify music around you with Cortana

202 Comments

Yes this works right now. It may be considered to be a bug though. Ideally if the phone's Regional Format (see Settings > System > Region) is not in a supported music recognition market (one of these countries - US,CA,AU,GB,FR,IT,DE,ES,AR,AT,BE,BR,DK,FI,IE,MX,NL,NZ,NO,PT,SE,CH), you shouldn't be able to do music recognition. This check was put in place to align with the Store's region and has been there since WP7.

I discovered that it depends on the region of the microsoft account. I have 2 hotmail accounts, one from the previous country i lived in (singapore) and one with US address, and even the phone region is US, music ID will only show up when i set up the phone using US hotmail account. Hope that will help

My bad, sorry, yes mnm is correct. It checks your Xbox Id, which is tied to your Microsoft account, as mnm mentioned. If you didn't specify a country there, then it would use your Regional Format on device.

Can't try if works though... Somehow she keeps answering "can't connect to internet connection" even though it's H+

Definitely no. I think I've used it with 8.0 and just a minute ago I tried it with 8.1. It worked. And I also have the button.

The phone's Regional Format (see Settings > System > Region) must be in a supported music recognition market (one of these countries - US,CA,AU,GB,FR,IT,DE,ES,AR,AT,BE,BR,DK,FI,IE,MX,NL,NZ,NO,PT,SE,CH). As long as you meet this criteria you will have the ability to do music recognition. Currently, if your Language (see Settings > System > Language) or Country (see Settings > System > Region) or Speech Language (see Settings > System > Speech) are not English (United States), you will not get the new Cortana screen when you launch Search. Instead, you will get the previously existing Image of the Day Bing screen, which should still have music recognition enabled as long as you meet the above criteria.

it's actually the billing region of the microsoft account you set up your phone with. but like you say, it must be on those region. I have account billed in singapore and one in US but this function will only show up if I use the US account, regardless of the region of the phone. Too bad we cannot switch account without hard resetting the phone

My bad, sorry, yes mnm is right. It checks your Xbox Id, which is tied to your Microsoft account, as mnm mentioned. If you didn't specify a country there, then it would use your Regional Format on device.

I'm not sure how to change it from the Xbox, but i just read that it can be requested. however if the region is not set yet, it can be changed from "account settings" on hotmail/outlook, then "billing info". check the country/region part if it's still blank... for some reason i don't know, one of my account is already set but right under the name on the top right side there will be something like "US - Personal account" or "FR - Personnal account" and it might give you a way to change your region, I'm not sure though as only one of my account can change it and the other one can't

Possibly its because that service isn't available outside usa. Infact we were supposed to be able to recognize music in wp8 too, but it cant be done even if you change the region.
Use shazam, it is much better and it even saves the recording if you dont have internet.

The phone's Regional Format (see Settings > System > Region) must be in a supported music recognition market (one of these countries - US,CA,AU,GB,FR,IT,DE,ES,AR,AT,BE,BR,DK,FI,IE,MX,NL,NZ,NO,PT,SE,CH). As long as you meet this criteria you will have the ability to do music recognition. Currently, if your Language (see Settings > System > Language) or Country (see Settings > System > Region) or Speech Language (see Settings > System > Speech) are not English (United States), you will not get the new Cortana screen when you launch Search; you will get the previously existing Image of the Day Bing screen, which should still have music recognition enabled as long as you meet the above criteria.

My bad, sorry, as mnm mentioned, it checks your Xbox Id, which is tied to your Microsoft account. If you didn't specify a country there, then it would use your Regional Format on device.

Is soundhound better than shazam in any way ? I use shazam and its much better looking, so i haven't tried soundhound, views people ?

Soundhound is the best in my opinion. I've comapred Cortana, Shazam, and Soundhound. Soundhound nearly always works while Cortana and Shazam typically fail on the same song.

I find that shazam recognizes my songs always, even rare ones. But that's not the point, i was asking whether soundhound has any extra features ? It claims to give lyrics but I've never got them to work.

Damn. I guess that's cool. Does that mean Android and Windows Phone won't have it anymore because it's going to be exclusive to iOS?

I found the soundhound app better but keep crashing and the page navigation can be improved (I kept exiting the app when using the back button). For that Shazam gets my vote for stability and better page navigation.

The phone's Regional Format (see Settings > System > Region) must be in a supported music recognition market (one of these countries - US,CA,AU,GB,FR,IT,DE,ES,AR,AT,BE,BR,DK,FI,IE,MX,NL,NZ,NO,PT,SE,CH). As long as you meet this criteria you will have the ability to do music recognition. Currently, if your Language (see Settings > System > Language) or Country (see Settings > System > Region) or Speech Language (see Settings > System > Speech) are not English (United States), you will not get the new Cortana screen when you launch Search. However, you will get the previously existing Image of the Day Bing screen, which should still have music recognition enabled as long as you meet the above criteria.

My bad, sorry, like. mnm mentioned, it checks your Xbox Id, which is tied to your Microsoft account. If you didn't specify a country there, then it would use your Regional Format on device.

This, hands down, is the BEST feature of Windows Phone! No need for Shazam, Soundcloud, etc., as the phone has this capability built-in! Windows Phone 7 & 8 users, just push your Search button, then select the icon below for music to search by sound. Hold the phone up to the speaker, voila! You can even download the song via Xbox Music to buy or as part of your subscription. Oh, and it is so accurate, it even recognized techno and classical music for me! ;) GO WP!!!

I've used the Bing music search also, terrokkinit, and love it. But it doesn't recognize my daughter's favorite genre... Asian pop artists. But then again, we don't hear too much Asian pop around town, so she usually knows the source already.

Hear Hear..one thing is to support more 3rd party apps, but i totally agree with you that Cortana works way better. Go WP.

The more stuff we feed her, the more knowledge and advance she will becomes.

One more advantage is that it can find songs more quickly than other apps. As soon as it recognizes the song (could happen in less than 3 seconds) you will get the result.

My bad, as mnm mentioned, it checks your Xbox Id, which is tied to your Microsoft account. If you didn't specify a country there, then it would use your Regional Format on device.

The phone's Regional Format (see Settings > System > Region) must be in a supported music recognition market (one of these countries - US,CA,AU,GB,FR,IT,DE,ES,AR,AT,BE,BR,DK,FI,IE,MX,NL,NZ,NO,PT,SE,CH). As long as you meet this criteria you will have the ability to do music recognition. Currently, if your Language (see Settings > System > Language) or Country (see Settings > System > Region) or Speech Language (see Settings > System > Speech) are not English (United States), you will not get the new Cortana screen when you launch Search.You will get the previously existing Image of the Day Bing screen, which should still have music recognition enabled as long as you meet the above criteria.

My bad, like mnm mentioned, it checks your Xbox Id, which is tied to your Microsoft account. If you didn't specify a country there, then it would use your Regional Format on device.

I am using a Lumia 620. Should I update to WP 8.1 Preview or wait for Cyan. I heard there are problems with 512mb devices such as app list refresh being slow and the the whole OS running slow/lagging.

Yes there is a bit lag but it wasn't lagging in normal use when i inserted 32 gb card since then its a bit slow not bit...I'll say alot slow...works fine without heavy card...you can try it

I have a 925 which has 1GB of RAM, but it's so damn laggy. I don't know if it's the pathetic dual core processor or the preview version of 8.1, but it's really annoying. I would press the home screen key and the tiles would be blank for a while because it takes so long to load.

Won't delete anything. It's just like powering down but better. I don't think I've ever noticed anything gone from my 1020 when I've had to hard reset. Volume down & power button at the same (damn) time.

i am on Lumia 925 updated to 8.1 ,changed region to US from India.No problem so far its good.i dont find anything excessive battery drain or lag.i use my phone moderate->heavy.No music button here ,since i have changed regional format to English India (i guess).Cortana is lovely ,picks almost 75% my english dialect

Interesting. I really wonder what the cause is. But definitely don't be going back to 8.0. I've waited far too long for these features. Maybe the cyan update will make things right.

It is up to you, but my 928 does have a bit of lag, and that's a 1GB device. Beta software (which is what this is) always has some glitches and slowness, so that's up to you if you can tolerate it. That said, it gives your phone so many new features that for me, it's worth the lag. I LOVE WP8.1!

The music recognition has gotten worlds better since a few years ago pre 7.5. I remember it being completely inferior to sound hound, but not it pics up even the most obscure songs, even classical music, within seconds. Very impressed.

Well everyone who got windows phone 8.1 as a preview pretty much knows their way around WP. I'm sure those with WP 8 are just regular consumers who don't care what operating system they have.

You would be just terrible at our job, sorry. I suggest you take up a new OS and try to learn new things about it, including what websites you to go for help or assistance.

We don't always wrote for the 'hardcore' user, in fact, you're the least interesting to write for since you often figure things out. I'm more interested in catering to people who need help, who are new to Windows Phone or who are on iPhone/Android and are exploring what they can do on this OS. For instance, iOS does not have this feature built in at all. If you're considering switching, articles like this are very informative.

Then wouldn't it be better to put instructions on how to check music on WP8 instead? Since the majority of normal consumers are on that platform instead of WP 8.1 where most of the "hardcore" users are. I still don't see the point in this article. Something more like "Cant see the music icon in Cortana? The service isn't available for you" Would have been more helpful in my opinion.

We've been doing this a long time, and have a plan. Part of the reason we do these articles now, is so that they get into search engines, so that when 8.1 does go wide and you search on Bing or Google, this will come up. That's how SEO works, articles don't just magically appear in search engines. 

Regardless, you are more than welcome to read the articles you find interesting and relevant, and more than welcome to skip those you find that have "no point". But I'm not really looking for these types of suggestions. Thank you.

Haha Ok I didn't know that. Thanks for the information. By the way, your choice of words sounds like you are a bit pissed off at me, sorry about that.

Other sites are rushing to post "exclusive" articles regarding fake Flipboard apps and when this site posts about useful new features the article isn't necessary

I just saw the music icon on the top right once. I've been trying to figure it out how to bring it back but it just wont show up. Any suggestions?

The phone's Regional Format (see Settings > System > Region) must be in a supported music recognition market (one of these countries - US,CA,AU,GB,FR,IT,DE,ES,AR,AT,BE,BR,DK,FI,IE,MX,NL,NZ,NO,PT,SE,CH). As long as you meet this criteria you will have the ability to do music recognition. Currently, if your Language (see Settings > System > Language) or Country (see Settings > System > Region) or Speech Language (see Settings > System > Speech) are not English (United States), you will not get the new Cortana screen when you launch Search; you will get the previously existing Image of the Day Bing screen, which should still have music recognition enabled as long as you meet the above criteria.

Sorry, as mnm mentioned, it checks your Xbox Id, which is tied to your Microsoft account. If you didn't specify a country there, then it would use your Regional Format on device.

The phone's Regional Format (see Settings > System > Region) must be in a supported music recognition market (one of these countries - US,CA,AU,GB,FR,IT,DE,ES,AR,AT,BE,BR,DK,FI,IE,MX,NL,NZ,NO,PT,SE,CH). As long as you meet this criteria you will have the ability to do music recognition. Currently, if your Language (see Settings > System > Language) or Country (see Settings > System > Region) or Speech Language (see Settings > System > Speech) are not English (United States), you will not get the new Cortana screen when you launch Search. However, you will get the previously existing Image of the Day Bing screen, which should still have music recognition enabled as long as you meet the above criteria.

My bad, like mnm mentioned, it checks your Xbox Id, which is tied to your Microsoft account. If you didn't specify a country there, then it would use your Regional Format on device.

The phone's Regional Format (see Settings > System > Region) must be in a supported music recognition market (one of these countries - US,CA,AU,GB,FR,IT,DE,ES,AR,AT,BE,BR,DK,FI,IE,MX,NL,NZ,NO,PT,SE,CH). As long as you meet this criteria you will have the ability to do music recognition. Currently, if your Language (see Settings > System > Language) or Country (see Settings > System > Region) or Speech Language (see Settings > System > Speech) are not English (United States), you will not get the new Cortana screen when you launch Search. You will get the previously existing Image of the Day Bing screen, which should still have music recognition enabled as long as you meet the above criteria.

Sorry, as mnm mentioned above, it checks your Xbox Id, which is tied to your Microsoft account. If you didn't specify a country there, then it would use your Regional Format on device.

I don't like how Shazam posts to Facebook now. Sharing your music tag to Facebook with Xbox Music is even worse.

This feature is really handy, but can't do this quite well like shazam or soundhound. It will hopefully get better when it gets out of beta, though.

Every time i try to recognise music Cortana says there's no internet connection, even though there's quite a wi-fi net! What may be the problem?

I never have the option to recognize music even by Bing before. Not sure which part is fail. It is there during the initial setup but after reboot it gone, together with the option to stream music in Xbox Music. Is this depend on sim card or LIVE account region?

 

The phone's Regional Format (see Settings > System > Region) must be in a supported music recognition market (one of these countries - US,CA,AU,GB,FR,IT,DE,ES,AR,AT,BE,BR,DK,FI,IE,MX,NL,NZ,NO,PT,SE,CH). As long as you meet this criteria you will have the ability to do music recognition. Currently, if your Language (see Settings > System > Language) or Country (see Settings > System > Region) or Speech Language (see Settings > System > Speech) are not English (United States), you will not get the new Cortana screen when you launch Search. Instead, you will get the previously existing Image of the Day Bing screen, which should still have music recognition enabled as long as you meet the above criteria.

Sorry, like. mnm mentioned above, it checks your Xbox Id, which is tied to your Microsoft account. If you didn't specify a country there, then it would use your Regional Format on device.

I hate that she won't talk back when you ask her about the song. Worst is that she still goes into listening mode when you want to know what you're listening from your device.

change region to US. Cortana is only launched there for the time now. They will extend the service later in India Nd mow its on beta mode

Every time i play a song it says cannot connect to internet even though my phone is connected to wifi..

The biggest issue I have with Cortana, so far, is that when she displays a breaking news story, and I click on the tile, the story is no where to be found... That's kinda annoying...
......................
I also wish Cortana could adjust volumes up and down.. Like if I say "Cortana adjust volume to 10"
" Turn volume down to 5"
That would be nice.

After hard reset I get music button on bing search, but when i turn on my location for Cortana, after hardly 5 seconds music button goes.... Not showing..... I'm from India
Edit:I can search music by saying"what music is playing".... But it always says you're not connected to internet... even if I'm using 3g pack

Bing has been doing that for years! Strange how many articles pop up attributing to Cortana things that Bing has been doing for years. Try switching off Cortana and, surprise, you can still ask Bing for weather, sports scores, etc...

Ive been ising this to search songs sonce day one, now if they could just add the bong vision eye next to the song note all would be good. They actuallly need this feature on tablets....Cortanan too.

Bing Vision is available and always has been, when you launch Camera app (press Camera button), then press the Lens icon (2nd icon on top), then tap on Bing Vision icon.
Bing Vision can't be launched from Cortana screen after you hit Search, so you need to use Camera button.

I'd really like to be able to press a button or say something to update the ID3-Tag of that song, when in Library. Or auto-update of that song at all, without doing anything at all ...

Guess she was very happy today. The spinning circles were jumping with joy saying "yaay its Naren". Felt really good :) Music recognition is spot on. I have tried Western tracks, some European stuff, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu songs and all I have played till now have been perfectly recognized by her the minute I tap on the music icon. Now, if only she can call me by my name...everytime I launch her....it would be great.

For those of you have an issue. Backup your data and use the Nokia Retail Rom installer. This will wipe your phone and set up a new ROM on it. Change your region to US after its loaded then run developer preview. You should be able to run the full version of Cortana after that.

With all these great how-to videos for 8.1 on wpcentral, I hope these will show up in a addendum wpcentral app or a separate wpcentral 8.1 app.Good job.
 

shazam is best but somehow soundhound works better in windows phones! shazam haa weak ears in windows phone it doesnt recognise even when there is hardly any noise or music source lil away while soundhound has super sharp ears cause it recognises music correctly even in the noisiest places juss needs tp here 0.1db :P.. other OS its always shazam ;)

I do have the Music symbol and the thing works a lot better and faster than Shazam, which is what I use the most. The only thing missing to really replace Shazam is social sharing.

When trying to use this in my car when I am connected through BT it opens the BT audio channel which causes my radio to mute. Pretty useless for me now.

You can also find the list of songs Cortana listened for in the music hub in"recently found music" under get music.

I don't have the music sign in cortona and when i say what is playing it says that she can't connect to the internet now ....and my my music is layer can't connect to Xbox server.....how can i fix it? Please help!

To summarize: The phone's Regional Format (see Settings > System > Region) must be in a supported music recognition market (one of these countries - US,CA,AU,GB,FR,IT,DE,ES,AR,AT,BE,BR,DK,FI,IE,MX,NL,NZ,NO,PT,SE,CH). As long as you meet this criteria you will have the ability to do music recognition. Currently, if your Language (see Settings > System > Language) or Country (see Settings > System > Region) or Speech Language (see Settings > System > Speech) are not English (United States), you will not get the new Cortana screen when you launch Search. Instead, you will get the previously existing Image of the Day Bing screen, which should still have music recognition enabled as long as you meet the above criteria.

Also note that identifying music with WP (either through Cortana screen or Image of the Day Bing screen) can be much faster than other apps, because it can return results as soon as it recognizes songs (i.e. could be less than 3 seconds).

Sorry, a correction. As mnm mentioned above, for checking if music identification is enabled, it checks your Xbox Id, which is tied to your Microsoft account. If you didn't specify a country there, then it would use your Regional Format on device.

One thing I would like to add to this Xbox music search is the ability to sync my search list to my other windows devices.

They had this for Bing Search....which I actually prefer...I dont know why but Cortana takes a bit longer than Bing Music search for some odd reason.
 

It would be nice if you could delete the search history .like selecting individual searches to delete then or even deleting all of them . Atleast give us a functional replacement to shazaam if your going to offer the services. Don't understand how something so simple can be over looked. Besides that I'm really loving 8.1 I've stuck around since launch of wp7 I feel the os is mature the store is hitting its teen life and the os finally can compete with the other two and has a punch to bring to the table

You can delete Search history. Go to Settings > applications > Search > "delete history" button. It has been there since wp7. Thanks for the compliments :)

I always used the Bing app instead of Shazam. But, with Cortana, I am finding that Shazam does better at identifying non-popular music. Last night I tried this with the last song in the move Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy. Cortana couldn't ID it so I downloaded Shazam and..SHAZAM!  Positive ID in about 10 seconds.   Hopefully Cortana will get better, though I cannot imagine that she accesses a different database than before.

This is so freaking weird. Driving home from my parents I heard a song on the radio and lamented to my wife that with 8.1 I had lost the find music feature. I quickly found and installed shazam and found the song before the it ended. Now, when finally home I check good old WPCentral for news and look what I find...LOL!

I had the same problem but if you type her name into the bing search she will come up if it says your in the wrong region go change your region to the usa and your language and you will be able to use her

Does it allow you to save the tags that Cortana has identified? I normally don't purchase the music right away due to data connection reason, and almost often buy them when I am at home, or club all my purchases for the weekend. It would be great if we can save the tags to OneNote Or Cortana can remember it like Shazam.

All your previous music identification histories are accessible. You can tap on them and they would bring you to the Store:

Cortana screen (tap Search key in Cortana market):

-Tap top right notebook button (3 lines)

-Tap "music searches"

 

Image of the Day Bing screen (tap Search key in non-Cortana market):

-Expand the bottom appbar

-Tap on "music search history"

 

Music app:

-Pivot over to the "get music" pane

-Tap on "recently found songs"

 

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