An overview of the world’s top music apps

Every year, we have an increasing number of customers that want to use our services to develop a music app. In this post, we’re going to be reviewing some of the bigger apps already available on the market and taking a look at what users like and dislike about these apps.

By reviewing what already exists, readers should be able to form a good understanding of how to build a distinguished, high-quality product, while also finding the right target audience and a hook which makes a new music app stand out in the crowd.

When it comes to the best music streaming apps, conversations usually revolve around the battle between Spotify and Apple Music. But there are a lot of music apps out there. Let’s take a look at these two big ones first before looking at their smaller competitors.


Spotify is a free digital music service that provides access to over 30 million songs, with about 20 thousand songs being added daily and 100 million active users (30 thousand of whom are paying subscribers for the Premium version).

New users get a one month free trial which lets them listen to music in offline mode without advertising. When the trial is over, users can buy a $9.99/month Spotify Premium subscription to continue using the service in this way. They can also opt in for a Spotify Premium Family subscription which costs $14.99/month and supports up to 6 accounts. Otherwise, users can use the free version of the app that includes ads and limits certain features like skipping songs.

Spotify is available on both Android and iOS devices. However, it’s locally bound to definite regions. This gives other local applications a chance to gain the loyalty of users. Nevertheless, Spotify is still among the most popular apps due to its fancy and user-friendly interface. Additional features like music recommendations that can even match the weather outside also make this app particularly attractive to music lovers. One more appealing feature of Spotify is their Musical Map. This map shows what music is trending among users in different countries and, at the same time, it can be a great source for new songs from different parts of the world.

The drawbacks of Spotify include issues with remixes and the recognition of user-generated content. As well, controversy surrounding the app’s low royalty rates has grown thanks to major artists like Taylor Swift, Adele, Prince, and, most recently, Gwen Stefani. All of these artists have pulled their music from Spotify and have made it available exclusively on other music platforms. The artists argue that Spotify is actively devaluing music and treating artists unfairly because of the low royalty rates offered on the ad-supported version of the app.

Apple Music

Apple Music is a music streaming service with a collection of about 30 million songs and 17 million users in over 100 countries worldwide. Apple Music gives new users a 3-month free trial before the service becomes paid-only. A monthly subscription costs $9.99 for a single user or $14.99 for a family plan of up to 6 people.

Apple Music is available for both iOS and Android devices. Paying subscribers enjoy features like unlimited skips on the Apple Music radio station. They can also like, comment, and add tracks from Apple Music into their device’s media to listen to them offline.

A main benefit of Apple Music over Spotify is that major artists like Taylor Swift, Adele, Prince, Gwen Stefani, and Pharrell have given Apple exclusive access to their songs and latest releases. The Connect feature, which aims to foster a closer relationship between the user and their favourite artists, is another benefit to the app. Artists are able to post photos or videos from their concerts on Connect, as well as song demos or yet to be released content, giving users exclusive access to this content. (This feature is similar to a music app we helped develop called TipCow.)

Apple Music’s integration of Beats 1 is another unique feature of this streaming app. Professional deejays run the Beats 1 radio station day and night, giving Apple Music subscribers from all over the world the same listening experience.

Both Apple Music and Spotify allows users to create their own radio stations. The services automatically suggest similar music to the user based on a chosen artist in Spotify or on a chosen artist/album/song in Apple Music.

Now that we’ve taken a look at the two biggest competitors in the world of music streaming, let’s also take a quick look at some of the smaller platforms out there.


SoundCloud is a website, Android and iOS music app, social network, and online platform for music lovers and DJs. The platform has over 125 million tracks available.

Users can upload their own content, post comments on racks, and find lots of remixes of their favourite songs. The application is free, but also offers a paid version called SoundCloud Go that costs $9.99/month and enables users to listen to music offline and without ads.

SoundCloud also offers Twitter, Facebook, Songkick, FourSquare, and Tumblr integrations.


Pandora is another free online service for listening to music, featuring a simple and intuitive interface. Pandora is unique in its selection of music based on the user’s preferences. By “liking” or “disliking” songs as they listen, users help the service queue similar songs to match their listening preferences.

Registered users can create up to 100 different stations, broadcasting music from a wide variety of genres in their profiles. Sharing favourite songs is easy through the app’s connection to Facebook and Twitter.

One of Pandora’s main disadvantages is the small number of songs available. Only 1.5 million tracks are on Pandora, a much smaller amount compared to the Apple Music or Spotify collections. Users also can’t skip or replay songs as these functions aren’t available in Pandora.

Despite these shortcomings, however, this simple and free-to-use service has about 82 million users and is available on both iOS and Android devices. Of course, Pandora also offers an ad-free paid version of the app that costs $4.99/month.


Tidal is another music streaming service that is very similar to the apps already discussed. There are three main differences, however, that make this app stand apart: quality of sound, price, owned and promoted by heavy-weight musicians like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, and Daft Punk.

The service is free for a one month trial after which users are able to select a subscription based on the quality of sound they want. Their choice affects the price of the monthly subscription. Regular sound quality costs $9.99/month while HiFi FLAC 16-bit/44.1kHz quality costs $19.99/month.

Tidal also features interviews, videos, song premieres, and concert videos that are available in high quality for users. It also has a built-in music recognition feature similar to Shazam, although it’s not as advanced as Shazam’s recognition technology.

Other music streaming options include services like YouTube Music, Google Play Music, Last FM, TuneIn radio, Hype Machine, and many more.

Besides music streaming apps, there are also music recognition apps that helps users identify songs that are playing. Let’s take a brief look at these services as well.


Well-known and widely beloved, Shazam is a free music recognition service used by more than 100 million people monthly. Like the song that’s playing in a store, cafe, or on the street? Open up Shazam, click on the Listen button, and wait for the app to tell you what’s playing! The app recognizes the melody and provides the artist’s name and song title. Some songs will also feature lyrics, music videos, artist biographies, upcoming concert tickets, and other recommended tracks on the app.

It is also possible to see what celebrities like Calvin Harris, Pitbull, Meghan Trainor, Avicii, and others search for on Shazam. Sharing musical discoveries is done easily via a Facebook integration.

Shazam is available on both the iOS and Android platforms. Users can upgrade to disable ads by purchasing the paid version of the app, called Shazam Encore, for $6.99.


SoundHound is said to be Shazam’s main competitor. The app not only does melody recognition, but also can recognize music based on humming.

SoundHound and Shazam have a lot in common in their functionality, but SoundHound uses its own Sound2Sound recognition technology which enables it to match audio signals, even if the sound quality is poor. The app also features a karaoke-like display of lyrics on the user’s screen, as well as full versions of video clips and access to carefully selected playlists.

We hope this post has helped you learn more about music streaming apps available on the market. We also hope it’s painted a clearer picture of what features a successful app needs.

If you intend to develop your own music application, we can help! Contact us to find out more about what a successful music app requires, ask any questions you may have, and get help with the development of your very own service!



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