No art form has seen its distribution model change more in the past thirty years than music. By the early 1990s, most music listeners had switched to listening to their music through CDs instead of cassettes or vinyl, thanks to the improved clarity of sound and ease of use that came with both formats. From there, music changed formats every couple of years. In the late 1990s, IRC, Hotline, and Usenet were all capable of sending files of any kind over the web. Just a few years later, Napster allowed its users to upload and download their favorite songs as MP3s. Although song downloads were typically slow thanks to dial-up, the advent of Napster and its easy-to-use interface truly shook the industry to its core.
Throughout the next decade, the future of commercial music seemed dark. On the bright side, you had the iPod and iTunes completely revolutionize the market, charging 99 cents for singles (later $1.29) and around $9.99 for downloadable versions of your favorite albums. The ease of access to a full market of MP3 downloads that made it easy to transfer to your iPod or other MP3 player helped keep the market from completely crashing. Outside of iTunes and other similar music offerings, things seemed to be getting worse. Limewire, alongside its alternative counterpart Frostwire, made it easy to download tracks like Napster before it, along with music videos and other collections that, while plagued by spam and poor download speeds, kept people from committing fully to an iTunes-only future.
Peer-2-peer also remained a problem, with the rise of The Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents, and other similar clients that kept the RIAA on their toes, issuing legal warnings and alerts to users around the United States about their illegal file sharing habits. To say the least, the 2000s ended with the entire music industry looking beat up and in bad shape.
It wasn’t until the arrival of Spotify in July of 2011 that the music scene seemed to find the second coming of an iTunes-like service. Though plenty will argue against Spotify “saving” the industry in any fashion, the switch to a focus on music streaming and subscription services seems to have, at the very least, helped stop a massive amount of people from being pulled towards piracy in favor of using streaming services. Spotify has also done a great job converting free users to paying customers, with forty to fifty percent of users having made the move to paying for Spotify. Now, in 2020, nearly every company—Apple, Amazon, Google, etc.—have made the move to focusing almost entirely on the streaming market over on-demand purchases.
But the free tier of Spotify is still relatively limited, especially when it comes to on-the-go listening. Though the app has improved in offering free users the ability to look for specific songs and artists without being locked into shuffle mode, it’s not perfect—especially when it comes to offline listening. Sometimes you want to ensure you always have that one special song on hand no matter where you are. That’s where something like a music downloader app on Android comes in handy. While you might not use it often, keeping today’s hits on your device ensure you’re always ready to listen to your favorite singles. Some apps even allow you to even save the music video to your device, which can really be helpful when the music video has a different version of a great song.
But since streaming apps have become the go-to apps for most music-lovers, what music downloader application should you turn to in 2020? It’s a good question—and luckily, we’ve ranked some of our favorite downloader apps in this guide to the essential music downloader applications for Android. From what apps look and feel the best when listening to music to the apps with the most features for saving to your phone, these are our favorite music downloaders on Android today.
Audiomack is not the free music app every Android user might be looking for. It’s centered around only a few genres of music—primarily hip hop and rap, R&B, EDM, and reggae—and if that isn’t the genre of music you’re looking for, Audiomack isn’t going to do much for you. If, however, you are interested in mainly listening to one of those genres, especially new songs of that variety, you’ll find a lot to like about Audiomack, both for discovering new tracks you might not be familiar with, and for finding out about up and coming artists you haven’t discovered yet.
If you’re unfamiliar with Audiomack, here’s what you need to know. Audiomack is a web-based player that, in many respects, mirrors something like Soundcloud, complete with a similar player interface that displays audio levels as you listen to a track. While Audiomack’s browser app features a clean interface, the app on Android leaves a little something to be desired. It feels really busy for something that should be focused solely on music. Ads are included here as well, an addition that is certainly to be expected with most free music download applications. When you first launch the app, you’ll be given the opportunity to subscribe to the paid version of Audiomack for $1.99 per month. It’s not free, but if the ads are bothering you, it’s a lot cheaper than something like Spotify.
Inside the app, the main display featured in the app is “Browse,” which allows you to go through top songs, top albums, and trending content. The trending tab is what you’ll probably use the most, and you’ll find user-uploaded content here from groups and rappers big and small. Adding to our offline music collection was as easy as tapping on the offline icon on our displays, and offline music could be found through the account tab on your player.
Sound quality, as with any “free” music downloader, was hit or miss. Because music in Audiomack is all user-uploaded, it should be obvious that some of the audio quality will likely be lacking depending on who uploaded the track. Some of the music we listened to sounded fine, equivalent to what we would expect from most mobile streaming apps. Still, some of it was clearly sub-200kbps streams, leading to an “underwater” effect where the music sounded muted and muddled.
You get what you pay for—and in this case, free convenience might overpower what we would expect with sound quality. We mentioned it above, but the other problem with Audiomack comes from its lack of genre. Hip hop and EDM fans will find plenty to love here, but even music that revolves around those scenes (LCD Soundsystem for dance music, any major Drake songs outside of some features) was sorely lacking.
Still, Audiomack is a good example of the state of free-but-legal music download applications on the Play Store, something that can’t be said for every app on this list. For what it offers, Audiomack is a great application so long as the music uploaded and hosted caters to your needs. Audiophiles will likely find the app’s quality is pretty hit or miss, but for those listening with the included headphones in the box (or with a pair of cheap Bluetooth headphones), you’re likely to find that Audiomack is one of the easiest ways to grab some tracks offline for free without breaking the law or jumping through a million hoops.
We went into Trebel with open minds, and we won’t lie—it’s a bit of a mixed bag. There’s a lot to love here, including a modern interface that makes it easy to browse through new songs. You can view new releases from within the entire app, and they’re typically advertised from fairly large artists, including Halsey and Charlie Puth. A search function helps you find specific artists and songs, with a fair amount of options to choose from. At first glance, it seems to be building to a great option for downloading free music, but unsurprisingly, there are some big compromises to be made here.
Right off the bat, some tracks are listed yet marked as “coming soon,” an option that was difficult to explain why, while other albums are missing altogether. Likewise, the entire app is based off a coin system, requiring you to check in at locations, watch video ads, or have friends install the application to earn coins to download new tracks. It’s never clear many coins each track costs, but overall, it’s easy to say that for those looking to download large tracks without dealing with a coin-based ecosystem, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
MyMixtapez is the official app for the well-known site that, like Audiomacks and SoundCloud, offers a wide variety of free mixtapes from artists big and small. From Lil Wayne’s Dedication series to smaller rappers like Ralo and Trey Davidson, you’ll find a huge amount of content on their site so long as you’re willing to put in the work to discover new music on your own. The good news, of course, is that MyMixtapez allows you to search for all sorts of content, and though you won’t find unofficially-uploaded songs, listening to classic mixtapes like Drake’s So Far Gone is totally possible with this app.
The interface is fine, if a bit bland, and the ads can get a bit outrageous, but downloading songs is free and easy, and sound quality is solid thanks to some real uploads as opposed to fan content. There’s a lot to like with MyMixtapez, even if its utility is limited. Even more so than with SoundCloud, non-rap fans won’t find much here to their liking; likewise, new releases from bigger names is more or less out the window with this app.
Yep, you right: not only is FrostWire not dead, it’s still in active development, featuring a full client for Android that can be used to download your favorite songs. Despite LimeWire being shutdown in 2010 following major legal litigations, FrostWire remains alive and well on PC and on the Play Store, allowing you to download music like it’s 2007 anywhere on the go. There are a few differences between this version of FrostWire and the one you might remember using.
First, FrostWire made the switch to using torrents several years ago, which means your cellular provider or internet provider may be to detect your downloaded content as illegal torrents if you aren’t careful. Ads were also added to the platform, so you’ll have to deal with some amount of advertisements clouding up your service. FrostWire still works how you remember it, despite the changes in its backend. Typing in the name of your song or artist into the search box in FrostWire brings up all the similar results you could imagine, though you’ll have to scroll through your results to find the correct listing. Audio quality is also hit or miss, but you’ll likely find the service to be usable if you aren’t too picky.
The only real positive thing to say about Free Music is that it’s free. Really, outside of that, the app doesn’t offer anything outside what you can find throughout the rest of this list. Though it isn’t advertised as one, Free Music is a third-party suite for SoundCloud, allowing you to download music from the site without using the main application as we described above. In theory, this is a good idea. It can allow you to perform the same actions we described above but without having to download a second app.
Unfortunately, almost everything about Free Music is worse. The app design is hilariously dated and features persistent, full-screen ads that interrupt your music searches. Browsing through content is far harder than simply using the official SoundCloud app. Even worse is the playback interface, with multiple ads taking up space over the player (and playing audio over the music). And the download feature of the app is broken, which means you’ll still need an app like SoundLoadie to download the content from its source. Basically, skip this one. Though it’s one of the first results in Google Play when you look for a music downloader, it’s absolutely not worth the hassle.