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.

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!

Mark Guim is Video Editor at Windows Central. He switched to Windows because the MacBook Pro isn't Pro enough. You can follow him on Twitter at @markguim.

202 Comments
  • I don't have music button on mine... Voice commands works though
  • Yeah. Mine too doesn't have the music symbol. Dang.
  • Bye bye Shazam!!
  • I still have shazam as a form of backup in case Cortana doesn't recognize the song.
  • Mine too. No music symbol.
  • u dont need to, just ask her... she will answer 
  • 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.
  • my region is US and still don't have the music recognition.
     
  • 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.
  • how to change the region in Xbox Id? i changed it in my outlook account. but still don't geting it >.<
  • Does she not reply to "What song is this?" Or "What's playing right now?"
  • Those are both also supported :)
  • Can't try if works though... Somehow she keeps answering "can't connect to internet connection" even though it's H+
  • Same error, even on WiFi.
  • I live in The Bahamas mine works well. Guess being right off the coast of Florida helps
  • Yeahh Just give her command "which song is playing?" Then she finds for you
  • How to identify music around you using cortana -If you're in the US-
  • This doesn't require Cortana...
  • The music identifying thing is a Bing service only available in the US.
  • Nope, in Spain we had it since WP7.8/8.0
  • 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.
  • I think, I've to add: In Germany
  • George Clooney's: "what else"
  • Nope. Works in the UK since two years.
  • 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 will accept hard reset to get this feature. But may you show me how to change the billing region in my Xbox ID??
  • 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
  • Osama.... really?!
  • https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=5C595C4C95476E49!2493&authkey=!ALg...
    Egypt.
  • I am not getting any music note symbol. It was there before but now it's gone
  • 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.
  • It works here in the UK though she never addresses me by my name either. Just a silent start up.
  • Possibly its only available for a few countries.
  • I'm in the U.S. And she doesn't address me by name either. How difficult is it to say "Darwin"???
    I told her it "sounds good".
  • 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.
  • Same here.. Although I never saw it in the first place
  • I have it and it is working in canada
  • 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.
  • Not all features will work in all countries.
  • It has worked for me before, but maybe the lyrics features was removed?
  • I also use Shazam and get good results.
  • Shazam is going to get integrated into iOS with next iPhone. It's that good.
  • 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?
  • Did android and iOS lose Facebook when it got integrated into windows phone ?
  • A simple "no" or "I don't know"
    Would be ok.
  • Lol, that wasn't sarcasm man, just plain fun :). No offence meant, really ! :)
    Have a nice day ! :)
  • I vouch for Soundhound. It works quick and does have lyrics. I like it most.
  • 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.
  • You can also ask her "what song am I listening to?"
  • Bice
  • Or "What's this song?"
  • Those should both be supported, yes.
  • Awesome! Thanks for the tip! :)
  • Can somebody please explain to me why they have the search music on Cortana but not Bing vision? Would it just not work?
  • I can't see the music icon
  • me too, and i'm using #lumia520
  • Happened to me too. But the icon appear after hard reset.
  • Amazing how we all discovered a glitch just by reading this article lol
  • 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.
  • Agreed with you all. Thanks for the input! :)
  • Everytime I try with Cortana to catch music it fails to do it
  • Even changing the region to us.... It doesn't work for me no option for searching music in Cortana
  • Yeah
  • Probably not available in India. You don't have Xbox music in India do you?
  • No we dont..
  • 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.
  • Actually you need a hard reset. Possibly because it was a heavy update and didn't clear out the 8.0 junk.
  • I definitely don't want to wipe my phone though. It takes way too long to get everything sorted out again.
  • 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.
  • That would be a soft reset. Hard reset is wiping the phone in the phone settings
  • 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!
  • Music button not available here in India.
  • Available in Pakistan
  • 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.
  • Uh, I don't believe this article was necessary.
  • Would love to hear the reason why not.
  • 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.
  • Some would feel the same way about your comment but hey, you still posted it anyway...
  • I don't believe your "uh" was necessary. Are you lifting logs or something?
  • Ok, I agree that was a bit superfluous hahaha.
  • 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
  • Hahaha, fake flipboard, lol ! I had got deceived ! :P
  • She can identify Indian / Hindi songs as well. Seems like she is fan of it.
  • Dope album by the way!
  • 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.
  • Am I the only one whose Cortana does not have a music note icon? :/
  • 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.
  • This 930 such a nice phone .
  • No music symbol on my cortana on top right corner. Why its not showing on my 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.
  • You can always Bing music around you if you don't have Cortana like me. So, Bing it on!
  • Knew this for a long time... Is no news. Say 2 Cortana: Talk dirty to me.
    You will laugh hard (I did)
  • 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?
  • Same here! (Croatia+WiFi)
  • Won't say my name either.
  • I didn't have the music id feature till this morning. How is that?!
  • 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.
  • I literally tried thus last night at a bar. Shazam was much better identifying the song.
  • What song?
  • Thanks
  • My mobile is lumia 520 from india. Cortana is not in my mobile why? Can anyone reply....
  • 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
  • When I ask her what's playing, cortana says that she can't connect to internet. It happens every time. :/
  • Cortana is not in my mobile Lumia520 from india why?
  • India.
  • Another case solved.
  • hey i dont have that option on the cortana screen....can anyone tell why is that so?  
  • Read the end of the article. It has answers.
  • Thanks Daniel Rubino!!
  • They need to put the Bing Vision icon back next to the Music icon in Cortana....
  • It is a pain having to open another app just for bing vision, and its slower to recognize music.
  • Yup
  • I think cortana will be available on those countries where bing services a re available. Not in Pakistan :(
  • Can't use it here...Anyways Shazam and Soundhound are way better ...
  • Cortana always gets it wrong or doesn't identify it. She's Microsoft's biggest failure.
  • Weird. She not perfect but gets it right 80% of the time (or at least it feels that way)
  • Every time i play a song it says cannot connect to internet even though my phone is connected to wifi..
  • No music icon.....
  • Dude how to get cortana on my Lumia 625.i m from India.I have selected my location usa.n time zone also..
  • No need to change the time zone.Just change region and language and then restart the phone
  • 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.
  • Does she say your name Rodneyej
    Or calls you chief?
  • Calls me chief, all the time.
  • Are you in the U.S?
  • Why yes I am.
  • Guess I'm not the only one. I expected her to say my name since she asked me "sounds good?"