The Best Music Apps For the iPhone

Listening to music has been a favorite pastime for millions of people all over the world for decades. And while you once had to go to a concert or have a record to listen to music, this eventually evolved to many other means of listening to your favorite songs. Technology has evolved so much in the last few decades that most of us carry something in our pockets that can be transformed into the ultimate music player.

And while you used to have to buy songs on iTunes or download them onto your computer and then on your phone to listen, music streaming services are turning that into a thing of the past. These services have millions and millions of songs at your disposal with a simple click of a button. Sounds great, right? Well, there is only one problem. There are dozens of different music apps out there that you can download to your iPhone, some good and some bad. There is a lot of thought that should go into which one you choose as many are quite different and/or offer different features and benefits. Thankfully, this article is here to help you select the best music app for your needs. While there will be a winner and a runner-up here, any of these apps on this list are worth a download.

While many of these apps on the list will be marked “Free”, some of them require a paid subscription to access all of the features and to be able to listen to music without ads or interruptions. However, there are some that are indeed truly free. When you consider the cost of buying CDs or individual songs through iTunes, it is a great idea to subscribe to one (or a few) of these services. While they can be used for free, the subscriptions is when you truly unlock the greatness of the apps on this list.

Without any further ado, here are some of the best of the best when it comes to music apps on your iPhone

Everyone else
Google Play Music
Google Play Music is another streaming service that offers millions and millions of songs, right at your fingertips. Like the other apps listed so far, this app can be downloaded and enjoyed for free, but the true benefits such as creating playlists and downloading songs for offline use come when you subscribe. It also includes customized playlists for your listening habits as well as a number of impressive radio stations that span various different genres and styles. A Google Play subscription costs $9.99, but unlike the other services, this subscription comes with a huge bonus. Being as Youtube is also owned by Google, a Google Play Music subscription gets you ad-free Youtube (as well as a free Youtube Red membership, which is a massive benefit if you use the app a lot. Ads during and before Youtube videos are extremely annoying and the fact that you can eliminate those by buying this service is very attractive. The app is also laid out in a very clean and streamlined manner, which helps it become very easy to navigate for almost anyone. If Spotify and Apple Music aren't your thing for whatever reason, giving Google Play music a try is a fantastic idea.
Tidal
When an icon like Jay Zpurchases and  re-launches a service, you know audio will be king and the music will be the most important aspect of it. And if you are a big time audiophile, this is the app for you. Tidal not only has millions of tracks, but it's audio quality is better than any of the other apps we have looked at so far. So if listening to the crispest audio out there is important to you, Tidal is a good bet. However, this impressive audio comes with a price as unlike the other apps we have looked at, there is no free tier here at all. $9.99 will get you a premium membership while $19.99 a month will get you the top of the line lossless FLAC audio. On top of an impressive library of music, Tidal offers curated lists of music, various discovery tools and more. The app even includes interviews and exclusives (like getting the Kanye album first which I mentioned earlier), which is ambitious and cool for a music streaming app. While there is no doubting the audio quality here, I'm not sure that quality is worth the extra $10 a month, at least for me personally.
Napster
No, this isn't the Napster from many years ago. The original Napster was a pioneer in the P2P file sharing genre and then ran into some legal issues with copyright. After those issues, it began to operate as a music store, and was eventually purchased by Rhapsody. Now, Napster is an on-demand streaming service that offers a large catalog of music as well as features like an offline mode, customized playlists and more. In fact, this app is very good at populating new playlists for you to check out based on your habits as a listener, without you having to do the heavy lifting. Like most of the other apps we have looked at so far, Napster charges a monthly fee of $9.99 for its services. Napster is a great option for newcomers to the space as it is very "no-frills" and is easy to navigate and operate. It's not going to have the bells and whistles that some of these apps on this list will, but it is very simple and straight forward, which is definitely something that certain people look for in their apps.
Soundcloud
While most of these apps so far specialize in getting you access to the biggest stars in music, this app takes a different approach. The community of Soundcloud is built by lesser-known artists trying to get their big break. This app has tons and tons of new music being uploaded every day from Soundcloud users and you never know, someone you find might just hit it big in the future. Artists like Future, Bryson Tiller, Post Malone and more used Soundcloud which helped propel them into superstardom. The app also has a large social aspect and is great at connecting the artists with their fans in a way a lot of the bigger apps wish they could do. You can share artists and songs and even record your own audio and put it up on the app for others to hear. Who knows, maybe you'll be the next big star Soundcloud creates! Best of all, this app is completely free to use. While it may not be your main music app as it won't feature some of the biggest stars or songs, it is a great way to listen to some up and comers and show support to those who need it the most, before they hit it big.
Pandora
This app was one of the first to be popular in the world of streaming and the name of the game here is discovering music you didn't know about. They have been providing personalized radio for years and they have a great algorithm for determining what kinds of music you may like. However, make sure you are thumbing up and thumbing down songs so the apps know. But if you want to listen to only a few different kinds of music/songs, you can create your own playlists. The app is available for free, but that only allows you a few skips a day, so the better option might be to pay the $4.99 a month subscription fee. This subscription allows unlimited skips and ad-free playback on the music. While you can't listen to full albums or listen to Pandora offline, it is a still a great option if you want to expand your music horizons without having to constantly switch stations or albums. You can easily start Pandora and listen to music for hours and hours without it being stale or needing to interrupt or change the playlist or station.
Shazam
This app has seemingly been around forever and has one meaning that almost everyone knows and many people use. If you hear a song and don't know what it is, simply fire up this app, hold your phone towards the music and it should not only tell you the song name, but also who sings it in only a few short seconds. The app is used by as much as 100 million people every month and is completely free to use. In addition to the feature that made it famous, Shazam now allows users to discover and listen to music as well. While their listening experience can't match some of the other apps on this list, it is a pretty cool addition for them to create. You can also automatically add songs you Shazam into playlists in Spotify and can also follow what your favorite celebrities are Shazamming too. While the "music discovery" feature is definitely the big star here, their other features aren't too bad at all either and definitely warrant a spot on your device.
TuneIn Radio
If listening to radio from all across the country and the entire planet is your thing, TuneIn might be for you. This is a radio streaming service that offers live streams from over 100,000 different stations from across the country and the world. While it indeed offers a ton of music in just about every genre you could imagine, it also offers a wide range of other audio including news, sports, talk shows, current events and more. Even your own local radio station is likely going to show up on this app. It is very different than most of the music apps here, but you know that with over 100,000 different channels and stations, you will always have something to listen to and enjoy.
Amazon Music
While Amazon might be pretty late to the audio streaming game, they have a pretty good app for being newcomers and is one that definitely deserves a spot on this list. If you are a subscriber to Amazon Prime, which costs $99 a year, you will automatically get a membership to Amazon Music. Here you can either stream the music or download it for some offline listening. While you can select your own music and create your own playlists you can also listen to playlists specifically crafted for what you are doing such as reading, working out or hosting a dinner party. The app is ad-free and has more than a million tracks at your disposal. That sounds like a lot, but they definitely lag behind some other apps in terms of their content numbers. But for something that is thrown in with an Amazon Prime membership at no extra cost, it is a very good service.
iHeartRadio
This app is a great way to stream AM and FM radio stations right from your smartphone. This app is completely free and not only gives you streams to existing radio stations, but also creates some based off of your listening habits. Like some of the other apps here, iHeartRadio lets you select songs and playlists based on your mood, so your music will always be able to match up with how you are feeling. They are also great because they have a wide variety of stations that range from news to country music to hip-hop. If you love the spontaneity of the radio as opposed to a structure online music streaming app, this app is definitely a great option. And while it is not related to the app that much, iHeartRadio puts on a great music festival and awards show each and every year.
8Tracks
8Tracks might just be the easiest and most streamlined way to listen to handcrafted radio over your smartphone. This app helps you discover music through short playlist called a "mix", with at least 8 tracks in it, hence the name. All of the playlists in this app are all hand-made by a real human being, no algorithms and computer-generated playlists here. The app is completely free, but if you hate the ads, you can pay the small fee of $4.99 a month to get rid of them. The community here is also pretty good, so think of it as almost like a smaller and lower scale version of Soundcloud. With 5 million monthly listeners and tons of new playlists being made every week, you will always have new music to listen to on 8Tracks.
Slacker Radio
In the crowded space on mobile radio apps for your smartphone, Slacker manages to stick out. They have a number of exclusive stations and their stations are crafted from some top artists. The playlists here constantly are adapting to your always-changing tastes and in addition to offering you great options when it comes to music, this app also contains radio stations that keep you up on news, pop culture, current events and sports. The app itself is free, but Slacker offers two different subscription prices that are definitely worth a look. They have a $3.99 per month subscription which allows you to listen without ads and the ability to use the app offline. They also offer a $9.99 premium subscription which allows users to use on-demand playback and lets them create their own custom playlists too.
Deezer
Deezer got its start in Europe and is now making waves in the USA. This is a music streaming service not unlike Spotify, Apple Music or the others that have been mentioned in this article. However, there are also a few things that make the app fairly different than those. First of all, there is your "Flow". Flow learns your personal music preferences over time. After a time, it will intelligently be able to play you a mix of your music, music in genres you enjoy from artist it thinks you will appreciate. In addition to that feature, this app also includes lyrics on the screen when you play music, which is a very cool feature that you rarely see in apps like this. This is a free app, but also has a number of different premium memberships that range from $5.99 a month to $12.99 a month. The $12.99 a month plan includes offline playback, no ads, greater sound quality and more. While it is a fairly new app in the U.S space, it is definitely worth a download if you love to sing along and learn the lyrics to your favorite songs.
Qello Concerts
While most of the streaming apps in this article focus on streaming individual songs, this app doesn't. Qello Concerts is an app that can turn your phone into a live music experience. Qello gives people all-access to full-length concerts and documentaries about your favorite musical acts. While the app is free, you are only allowed to listen to one track per performance. Because of this, buying the $7.99 a month subscription package makes a ton of sense. With that subscription, you get a ton of concerts included from some of your favorite acts like Queen, Pink Floyd, Tupac, Beyonce and many more. $7.99 a month is a minuscule price to pay for hours and hours of video and audio content. The app also features new content each and every week, so you will never run out of great things to see. While this is much different than most of the apps on this list (and likely won't be your primary music app), it is a great option for those concert lovers out there.
Posted by Kale Havervold on January 3, 2017

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