Everybody loves music, and between Google Play and Apple’s App Store, music apps make up the majority of available items by a long shot. There are so many different options available that it can be hard to choose the right one, so we’ve compiled our top 10 picks of music apps for 2016. Whether you’re looking for a service to hear the latest albums from your favorite artists, or just a service to stream your existing collection, there’s something for everybody here.
Apple Music is a relatively new addition to the cloud-based music streaming sector, having been first introduced last year. The service offers instant access to over 30 million songs, your existing iTunes music library, brand-new radio stations exclusive to Apple, and much more – all available wherever you are, via Apple’s cloud servers. Apple Music is available as a subscription service starting at $9.99/month, although they are currently offering a 3-month trial period to get started.
SoundCloud has been a mainstay of music streaming services since it was originally founded in 2007, and they are still a major platform for musicians and listeners alike. Following in the footsteps of MySpace, SoundCloud has provided a place for both independent and major label artists to share new music for free, on a minimal, user-friendly interface. The basic account is available for free, although they have premium account options available that offer unlimited uploads, as well as more extensive analytic tools.
Ever wanted to know what those lyrics in your favorite songs actually mean? That’s where Genius comes in. Genius is a database of song lyrics with line-by-line annotations, giving you the meaning behind each part of a song’s lyrics. Annotations are user-submitted and open to revision based on community dialogue, very similar to Wikipedia. The app is available for free for both Android and iOS.
Shazam is an app for identifying music anywhere you go. Whether you’re listening to the radio, watching TV or at a club listening to a DJ playing, Shazam will capture what you’re hearing and make a match by comparing it to their database of literally millions of songs. Obviously they can’t have every song in existence in their database, but more often than not Shazam will be able to identify the song you’re listening to.
TIDAL is another newcomer to the world of subscription-based streaming services, having been launched in late 2014. Founded by rapper and business mogul Jay Z, TIDAL was launched in partnership with 15 other leading musical artists (including Usher, Rihanna, and Beyoncé), who are also stakeholders in the company. Much of the appeal of the service is due to the release of several albums exclusively to TIDAL, unavailable via other streaming services. They are still a relatively new platform, but they are definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Spotify is arguably the most popular and well-known music streaming service, with the beginnings of the company dating back to 2008. While they have an enormous database of music and spoken-word content, they have undergone some criticism from artists such as Thom Yorke and Taylor Swift, due to the structure of their royalty payouts. Nonetheless, they are a major player for music streaming, and are a viable option for instant access to almost every song.
Pandora could be considered the grandfather of all modern music streaming services, first introduced as far back as 2000. Modeled more as a personal, internet radio station, the service will compile a playlist based upon an artist search by the user, generating related music based upon the search. Users can submit a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” for each song played, creating a more intelligent playlist based on the user’s feedback. Best of all, Pandora is completely free.
Ever wanted to stream music on YouTube without having to keep your phone screen open on the site? YouTube Music might just be the answer for you. They offer a wide catalogue of music available for streaming, both in audio-only and video formats, offline streaming, and more features. The app can be used for free, but the $9.99/month YouTube Red service will unlock ad-removal as well as more advanced capabilities.
Google Play Music
Google Play Music is another major music streaming service, and arguably Spotify’s main competitor. Aside from access to their catalogue of more than 35 million songs, users can upload their mp3 library to Google’s cloud (up to 50,000 songs), available for streaming anywhere you go. The standard subscription price for the service is just $9.99/month, but a family plan is available for only $14.99/month, giving access to 6 family members.
Amazon Prime Music
Lastly, Amazon Prime Music combines some of the best features from all of the other more well-known streaming services. While they have a considerably smaller database of available songs (at only 1,000,000), users can add in their own collection for streaming, as well as stream at variable qualities (in some cases much higher than other services such as Spotify). In addition, the service is one of the cheapest around, at only $8.25/month, and it includes free two-day shipping on physical orders through Amazon.