If your ears voraciously consume music and you find it hard to make it through the day without some tunes, you need to have at least one of these best music apps on your phone and other mobile devices. Music is the fuel, and you are the vehicle that finds inspiration and motivation through lyrics and guitar licks.
Buy It or Stream It
When it comes to enjoying music and listening without CDs, you have a couple of different options. For many people, digital downloads are the way to go. You still buy the album, or sometimes just a single song (depending on what's available and your preference) and you download it to your device. You can also listen to it through the service from which you bought it when they add it to your playlist.
Then you have the streaming option. Most streaming apps have free options and paid options. The paid versions will offer more listening options and fewer commercials, or no commercials at all. Streaming lets you check out new music without commitment, or listen to your favorites even if you don't own them.
For your listening pleasure, here is a curation of 10 of the best music apps. It's a mixture of streaming and downloadable options – so you can pick which one is right for you.
Once upon a time, YouTube was just a place to go watch videos. What made them stand out, and still does, is that you can often find songs on there that you can't find anywhere else on the internet. When it comes to obscure songs, it's one of the best music apps.
Now though, you have access to YouTube Music and YouTube Red. The YouTube music app lets you enjoy your chosen tunes without your screen on. Perfect if you're not in the mood for videos (which some of the songs on there don't have anyway) and you want to conserve some battery power on your device.
You can listen to complete albums, get recommendations based on what you listen to, and more. If you add the $12.99 a month for YouTube Red, you can get even more options and fewer interruptions from commercials.
2. Prime Music
Prime Music, as it's called for Prime users, opens you up to a catalog of over 2 million songs. That's a lot of music to listen to for a minimal fee each month. It's part of your Prime membership, which also gives you access to free shipping and a massive catalog of books.
Even if you don't want to be a Prime member, with Amazon Unlimited Music you can listen to all of the digital songs and albums you purchase through Amazon on your devices, from your laptop to your smartphone.
One of the things that makes music apps with Amazon somewhat unique – you can do the streaming thing and the download thing. You get this with Bandcamp as well.
3. Google Play Music
When you purchase an Android device it instantly comes with Google Play Music, and the other Google Play platforms, but you can also have it on your Apple iPhones as well. It, again, is a streaming/download combination, in ways. You get access to the library of songs you have, just like with iTunes, but you also have access to custom radio stations for streaming.
The extra bells and whistles, like the curated playlists and custom radio stations, come with a paid subscription. Most of the best music apps have a fee around the $10 you'll pay monthly for this one. You get no adds, and you can add 100,000 songs from your own library to the app. That's a lot of music one touch away.
4. Apple Music and iTunes
In the beginning, there was only iTunes when it came to music from Apple. ITunes was and is a place to shop for digital specific music downloads. Unlike Amazon, you can't buy CDs from iTunes. But that's OK, because you instantly have your music available to load into your iPod this way, so you can take your tunes jogging or walking with you, or even to the beach.
Now Apple also has a streaming service, with Apple Music. Apple Music is essentially Apple's version of Google Play – and yes, you can download it on your Android device too. You get to listen to 45 million songs streaming with your paid subscription, or you can upload 100,000 of your own songs. You can even opt for the “free” option and listen with a few fewer perks.
Apple Music includes the whole custom playlist thing and the cool radio shows as well, so it's very similar to Google Play in many ways.
If you want to find your friend's music online, discover super-cool independent bands, and maybe even show off your own music, Bandcamp is an app for you. You can download it and use it at absolutely no cost.
Aside from access to music you might not find elsewhere, and might not hear unless you moved to another town or state, you get to check out new tunes before you commit to buy. Like Amazon digital, you can often choose between buying a single song from an album, or the entire album itself, depending on how the musician or their label set things up.
The music you purchase through Bandcamp is saved on their site, and you can listen to them album by album whenever you want. The downfall is that you'll have to play DJ because their's no shuffle option.
Pandora is likely one of the first names that pops into your head when you think of internet radio. It's a streaming service that's still going strong, even if more users are moving over to the myriad of other music apps out there.
Pandora has specially curated radio stations you can pick for, and as you give songs a thumbs up or down, it adjusts to your listening habits. The more feedback you give, the better the songs you'll get.
You can use Pandora without any fees. You can even listen to it on your TV through streaming devices like Roku. You can also pay for a monthly subscription option that removes the adds, lets you skip more songs (with the free version you have a limit), and even lets you listen to music offline.
Spotify combines a few of the other options into one amazing music-listening experience. What makes this streaming option better than Pandora is that you get to pick the songs you want on your playlist from the start. You curate what you want to listen to from the 30 million songs available.
That said, they also curate special lists for you to check out new or different music, based on what you've been listening to. Plus, you have access to other people's curated lists, even if they aren't your friends!
Spotify has music from major artists and independent artists alike. So you have the options of Bandcamp and Amazon all balled into one. You can download and listen absolutely free. For $10 a month you can skip the commercials, listen offline, and not be forced to listen to songs you're not in the mood for. Unpaid, you only get a few skips when listening on a smartphone or tablet.
The thing that makes Shazam an app that stands out, and a must-have app for music lovers, is its skills for detecting music. When you hear a song, log into the app, and it'll tell you exactly what the song is and who's singing it. Then you have the option to decide if you want to purchase the song and check out the lyrics or pass on it.
Shazam works alongside your other music apps. When you opt to purchase a song, you'll be lead to your choice of purchase places, or you can stream on apps like Spotify.
SoundCloud, like Bandcamp, is a great place to discover local and independent musical artists. It's a great place to listen to music for free, and with so many different types of bands – national and local acts – you can expect great variety.
Another bonus of this app if for the artists that want to get their music out there. SoundCloud Pro is the option for music creators, with packages that start at as little as $8 a month. How much you spend, as a music maker, will depend on how much space you want and other bells and whistles.
10. iHeart Radio
Like listening to the radio, but don't have one accessible (these days most of you are only listening to the radio in the car, if then even)? IHeart Radio allows you the joys of AM/FM radio. It doesn't matter what genre you prefer, you'll find it, and without flipping a dial.
Like Pandora, you pick your mood and iHeart Radio gives you a custom station with the music you want to hear. Their catalog has more than 450,000 artist options, so you may even find some obscure genres and musicians there.
If you don't mind the addition of a small monthly fee, you can also get unlimited skips and be allowed to personalize your own playlists. This app is similar to Pandora in many ways, as you can see.
What's On Your Playlist?
No matter what you're listening to, or like to listen to, these best music apps are sure to feed your musical tastes and give you an earworm or two. You may not have space on your phone for more than one or two of these apps, so you may need to consider a few things before picking which one works for you.
First, do you have a collection of digital music you want access to at the same time as any streaming music you're interested in? In this case, you'll want to use an app like Spotify or Google Play Music. Not only can you access a ton of songs you don't have in your personal collection, but you can also throw your own in the mix.
If you want streaming only, Spotify is still a great choice. You can also pick Pandora and/or iHeart Radio, where you get the music you want to hear the more you listen and interact with the apps.
If you just want to buy cool music and have one place where you can listen to all of it too, Bandcamp will treat you right. Or, you can load all your songs into iTunes, which gives you the ability to shuffle your music. Plus, you can load it all right to your iPod for listening on the go or on the phone, even when you're busy with your computer or phone.
All of these options help you save space since you don't need shelves to store all of your CDs on. It's all conveniently stored in the cloud, where you have access to it even when you're not at home with your stacks of musical discs.
Too Many to Choose From
It seems like there are new apps coming out daily. This list of best music apps should help break down some of the apps that are available for music fans and help make your choices easier when it comes to picking which one will work for you and your listening tastes.