There’s no denying that apps have changed the way we listen to music. They put vast libraries at your fingertips, help you discover artists and songs you’re sure to love, and tell you when awesome bands come to town. Many apps even link up with other apps to enhance your music appreciation. No matter how much or what kind of music you listen to, these top 10 apps can further your enjoyment.
Okay, okay, we’re not exactly going out on a limb making Spotify our top pick for music apps, but there’s a reason why so many people listen to music through it. Spotify gives you more control over subscription options than most other streaming services, and it offers the largest known library of music to its listeners. There are no algorithms that pick your music for you; you choose the tunes you want to hear from Spotify’s 20 million songs. The desktop version of the app is free, but it does include ads. For $4.99 per month, you can use the app ad-free. The mobile app costs $9.99 per month, enabling you to stream Spotify’s library to your mobile device and download music to listen offline. You can also choose from three different bandwidths to stream at, which helps you manage your monthly data use. It’s this kind of flexibility, combined with a huge selection of music that puts Spotify in the top spot.
2. TuneIn Radio
Music streaming across the Internet used to play as a dirge for airwave radio. TuneIn Radio, however, is helping local FM stations rise from the ashes by making them global. This app gives you access to 70,000 live radio stations and two million podcasts from around the world. You can listen to your local news, hear the latest waves in indie music coming from KEXP in Seattle, and brush up on your Spanish by tuning into Panamanian talk radio. You can sort stations by genre and sub-genre, location, and language, and TuneIn will list special broadcast events that you might enjoy. Let the Airwave Radio Renaissance commence.
Part DJ and part music geneologist, Pandora has changed the way millions of people listen to the “radio.” The app’s “Music Genome Project” uses trained music analysts to identify up to 450 musical characteristics in songs, and Pandora then links songs together based on their shared traits. You choose a song, artist or genre, and Pandora creates a streaming playlist for you. As you choose your music, mark likes and dislikes, and skip over songs, the app records your preferences to further personalize your playlists. More than just create enjoyable playlists, Pandora helps listeners discover new music. Ads support the free version of the app, which gives you six skips in an hour, 12 in a day, and 40 hours of listening per month. A $3.99 montly subscription removes advertising, the daily skip limit and the monthly listening quota, but you still get six skips per hour. You can also stream music at a higher bitrate for better quality. If you’re going to delegate control over the music you listen to, put it in the hands of Pandora.
Songza wants to provide the soundtrack to your life. Tell the app what you’re about to do, like go to work in an office or quit your job, and it’ll create the perfect playlist to accompany your activity. Professional DJs and music industry experts curate the tunes to make Songza a very capable music concierge. Ads support the free version of the app, and the weekly $0.99 for membership in Club Songza removes the ads and gives you better content. If you’re looking for the right tune for the occasion, Songza will find it for you.
If you consider tickets for live shows to be part of your living expenses, you need Bandsintown to help you budget your cash. This app is a concert calendar, letting you know when your favorite bands have an upcoming show near you and helping you discover new groups on the road. You sync Bandsintown with Pandora, Last.fm, Google Play Music, and iTunes, and the app tells you about local shows based on your preferences. You can then contact other friends using the app to organize crews and buy tickets for the shows you want to see. With over 180,000 artists in its database, Bandsintown makes sure you don’t miss the shows you should catch.
When you catch a show that Bandsintown told you about, use Lanyard to record the experience. This journal for live shows lets you check in at the concert, upload photos, leave comments, and give ratings. Lanyard records it all to your profile so that you can revisit the show any time. It pulls setlists from Setlist.fm, saving you the trouble of noting it yourself, and taps into Spotify to create playlists of studio versions of the songs from the concerts you attended. You can see content from other concertgoers on the app and either share your impressions from shows or make your profile private. You can also show your Lanyard to friend on social media. Sure beats looking at a creased ticket stub and trying to piece together fuzzy memories of classic shows.
Daft Punk recorded their groundbreaking album, “Homework,” on a personal computer, and it’s just a matter of time before someone puts out a whole record on their smartphone. When that happens, the artist will likely use GarageBand. This iOS app lets you compose on various instruments and put them all together to form a song. The free version gives you a guitar, keyboard, audio recorder and eight preset sounds. For $5, you get a guitar amp, smart keyboard, smart bass, smart strings, smart drums, sampler, and 157 preset sounds. These extras are free, though, if you own the desktop version of GarageBand. Depending on which version of the iPhone or iPad you have, you can record on up to 32 tracks, practically giving you an orchestra to work with. You can also integrate GarageBand with other instrument apps to expand the range of sounds you have at your disposal. Save your tracks to iCloud and share them iDrop to get feedback from friends and bandmates as you record. Instead of shelling out for studio time, just download GarageBand.
Despite its name, Slacker is near the top of the class for music apps. It mostly works like a giant platform for radio stations, with music experts curating playlists on hundreds of stations from a database of 13 million songs. You can customize stations by choosing artists you like, and Slacker will tweak existing stations as it learns your listening preferences. The app suits sports fans especially well because it streams events you can’t find on any other app. The free version limits your number of song skips, places ads, and restricts listening to online only. You can do away with all that, though, with a $3.99 monthly subscription. Upgrading to the $9.99 monthly service lets you choose songs a la carte and customize your playlists. The app itself isn’t a slacker, but you might start looking like one with all the time you spend on it.
In the Land Before App, you might hear a song you liked playing at a bar but be unable to find out the title or the artists. In the modern world, you never have to leave to chance the pleasure of hearing that song again. You have Shazam. When the music’s playing, open the app and let it pull the information for you. You can then listen to it when you want to on Rdio or watch the music video on Youtube. If you like the song so much that you want to own it, Shazam lets you preview it in iTunes before purchasing. You can even sing along with the tunes you like because the app gives you the lyrics. The basic version of Shazam is free, but upgrading for $6.99 removes ads and lets you play songs in Spotify and Pandora. Never lose a catchy tune again.
Richseam is like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon for your favorite musicians. It reveals bands that well-known musicians have played in and other musicians they’ve collaborated with, so you can discover new bands and musicians and show off your music history knowledge to your friends. And with Richseam, the knowledge well runs deep. You can explore over 2 million relationships between 170,000 musicians and even search according to record label. You might think you know everything about your favorite musician, but Richseam will show you how much more you have to learn.
These top 10 music apps are a great start for accesing your favorite music and disovering new artists, but don’t stop here. There are a wealth of other fun, interesting and useful apps out there for you to explore.