How to Find out What Genre a Song Is

By Bridgette Redman ; Updated September 15, 2017
A woman is listening to music through her headphones.

So many songs cross genres today that it can be a challenge to know what station will be playing your new favorite song, or to figure out how to classify it in your iTunes library. You've got two main choices when it comes to figuring out a song's genre, call in the experts or become an expert yourself.

Ask the Experts

Start with the song's creators. They may have already classified their song into a particular genre and listed it on their release information, their personal websites or their social media sites. Read reviews by the top experts in the music field. Head to magazines like Billboard, Spin, Rolling Stone, or Paste. If it's an indie song, look to Pitchfork or the Indie Music Magazine. Download phone apps that specialize in telling you what a song is and what its genre is: A few of these are Shazam, SoundHound and Hound.

Become an Expert

Experts can be wrong when it comes to something as subjective as music; or perhaps they simply haven't gotten to the song you want to know about. Learn the distinctions between genres yourself. Read up on the difference between subgenres and whether something is classified a particular way because of its instrumentation, lyrics, or even the number of people in the band. Learning these characteristics lets you be the judge of what genre a song belongs to.

About the Author

As a professional writer since 1985, Bridgette Redman's career has included journalism, educational writing, book authoring and training. She's worked for daily newspapers, an educational publisher, websites, nonprofit associations and individuals. She is the author of two blogs, reviews live theater and has a weekly column in the "Lansing State Journal." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University.