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Getting the inside track on your favourite artists' songs

This Digital Life

Want to know what tunes your best-loved bands are listening to? Music discovery app Shazam's latest feature promises to help you do just that. But, Katie Wright asks, are we really getting behind the covers?

Lots of online music services offer "you might like ..." recommendations, using algorithms to determine other bands you might like based on the music you listen to now, but Shazam's newest feature promises to let you in on the tunes your favourite musicians are listening to - because you're bound to share the same taste, right?

Shazam (www.shazam.com) is the app that lets you discover songs by holding your smartphone up to a speaker (or telly - it's really useful for uncredited songs on TV programmes), so the app can 'listen' to a snippet and identify the track, which is then saved to your profile.

Now, more than 30 acts - from mainstream stars like Coldplay, Calvin Harris and One Direction to rappers like Wiz Khalifa - have signed up so anyone can see the songs they've been Shazaming (that's when you find a track on the app).

It means the Shazamed tracks of artists will pop up in users' feeds.

It's a good idea in theory, as fans' desire to stay ahead of the sonic curve is unending and you'd hope these stars are more in the know than most, but the question is: how authentic are their so-called discoveries?

Are these artists really waving their phones about while they're out buying pants in H&M to find out the origin of that catchy house remix? Or are these lists actually carefully curated by their 'people' in order to recommend label mates or music industry pals?

As it happens, every one of Calvin Harris' list of Shazamed songs comes from his pet project Fly Eye Records, while notable lothario Robin Thicke's page is populated with just a handful of classic tracks from the likes of The Beatles and Bob Dylan.

And there are a few tracks, like the latest single from American Idol reject Tori Kelly, that suspiciously turn up on a whole raft of the inaugural artists' profiles. Coincidence?

Well, maybe. Admittedly, R 'n' B singers Jason Derulo and Usher have more authentic looking lists, the latter featuring funk and indie hits of yesteryear, not just the trendy tracks of today.

Shazam says hundreds more acts are set to sign up, so time will tell if we're really getting the lowdown on our favourites' favourites.

But, until a gangster rapper Shazams something really embarrassing like S Club 7's Reach For The Stars, I'm going to reserve judgment.

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