If you lump them all together, there are probably no fewer than a zillion different music apps between Google Play and the App Store. Those aren’t exact figures, but based on Digital Trends’ own independent research, we estimate that the number is somewhere between a zillion and a jillion. So as a smartphone user, you have access to just about any type of music program imaginable, from Internet radio and streaming apps to guitar tuners and portable DJ stations. Unfortunately, though, your smartphone has a limited amount of space. You can’t download the entire zillion apps — as of yet, anyway — so we’ve dug up the best music apps available for Android and iOS.
It should be noted, however, that the number of music apps available varies greatly from store to store. Apple’s App Store easily has the most, followed closely by Google Play. Most are available free of charge, though, many also feature in-app purchases and monthly subscription fees. Nonetheless, below are picks for the best music apps, whether you’re looking to simply listen to music, learn music, or create it.
Update 7-10-2015 by Brandon Widder: Added TIDAL, NPR Music, Musixmatch, and several other apps.
In the case of Songza, the mood sets the music. The app showcases high-quality audio spanning numerous genres and allows you to choose from a variety of curated stations based on the time of day and specific scenario, whether you’re working out, driving, or cooking an elaborate meal.
Touting more than 35 million tracks and unlimited streaming, Rdio offers everything from classic hits and new releases from all your favorite artists. You can also follow artists and taste makers, curate a special playlist with friends, and download your favorite album for offline listening.
As expected, Google Play Music grants you full access to your cloud-based music collection on the go. The app is clean, lined with handpicked playlists and custom radio stations, and even presents smart recommendations based on your individual taste and prior listening habits.
Ever heard a song and wished you knew the title and who recorded it? Shazam detects songs and television shows in a matter of seconds, providing purchasing options, lyrics, and a convenient means of streaming the tracks once recognized. The real-time chart are just a plus.
Spotify remains a force to be reckoned with (even at $10 a month). The mobile app boasts the same functionality as its desktop counterpart, allowing you stream single tracks or entire albums with the option to create custom playlists and download the tracks for offline listening.
Amazon may have been late to the game, but its streaming app is one of the best. It allows you to access your entire Cloud Player library, including uploaded songs and those you purchases on the site, and provides additional options for creating and editing playlists on the fly.
MTV may be dead, but Vevo still offers a remarkable selection of premiere music videos within its app. You can also create genre-spanning playlists and steam live musical performances, or simply browse Vevo’s handpicked selection of HD videos and recommendations.
TuneIn Radio grants you access to more than 100,000 live radio stations from around the globe. The app offers a bevy of local content as well, providing on-demand streams encompassing sports, news, talk shows, music, and current events among a host of other stellar offerings.
Soundcloud is a rabid community of musicians, bands, and the like. The app retains all the hallmarks of the full site, allowing you to search for new artists to follow, listen to songs in your feed, and even record and post your own audio. The “Explore” section is only the beginning.
Pandora is a mainstay of the streaming realm despite its dwindling user base. The service curates custom radio stations utilizing advanced algorithms based on a specific track or artist, delivering songs catered toward you that only get better with feedback. The interface is a nice, too.
TIDAL is designed for the audio aficionado. The streaming service boasts more than 25 million lossless tracks, not mention an offline mode and quick access to music videos, tailor-made suggestions, and in-depth interviews covering everyone from Jack White to Jay-Z.
Covering everything from country and hip-hop to pop and news, iHeartRadio makes streaming live AM/FM stations simple. Additionally, it lets you select music fit for your mood and build your own custom station from a catalog pushing more than 450,000 different artists.
There’s a reason NPR Music has its own dedicated app. The excellent offering provides you with access to live music streams from more than 100 different public radio stations, along with a gateway to signature programs such as All Songs Considered, First Listen, and the Tiny Desk Concerts.
Sometimes hearing isn’t enough. Quello Concerts lets you see it in action, granting you on-demand access to full-length concerts and riveting documentaries from the likes of Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Lady Gaga, and countless others. Trust us, 1,500 performance is plenty.
Musixmatch boasts the world’s largest catalog of lyrics, and as such, the service’s dedicated app lets you listen to song in your library with synced lyrics. It also lets you search for song lyrics, whether by title or lyric, and helps you identify music playing around you with a simple tap.
The mobile GarageBand isn’t so different than its desktop brethren. You can play and loop a variety of instruments, from cello and acoustic guitar to drums and synths, using your iPhone’s touchscreen display. You can even tweak the tempo, key, time signature, and chords in the process.
Featuring a realistic physics engine and Jonas Eriksson’s attractive graphics, Musyc’s foundation is solely based on the shapes you draw and the way they interact while bouncing on the screen, along with two effects channels and a coupled track mixer that builds upon the app’s 88 instruments.
Turntables that fit in your pocket are difficult to come by. With DJ Studio 5, you can mix, remix, scratch, loop, pitch, and record your music using two virtual turntables. Hell, you can even save and post the final mixes to SoundCloud or share them on Facebook when you’re finished.
Equipped with an arsenal of mixing synths, drums, audio recordings, and samplers, PocketBand Pro lets you create high-quality tracks as a sequence of loops. Think of it as a stripped-down digital audio workstation, one with an emphasis on collaboration and penchant for spacey synthesizers.
You don’t need to be able to read sheet music in order to play guitar. Ultimate Guitar tabs touts interactive lessons and a robust catalog of more 800,000 ukulele and guitar tabs, which allow you to view chord diagrams and the placement of various notes on the fretboard at a glance.
Three-ring binders can get heavy. Fortunately, forScore mini is tailor made for stowing your sheet music on the go. The app also lets you edit and annotate your music, while providing you with options for tagging, sharing, and displaying your music alongside the accompanying audio track.