How to develop a music application?

Updated: April 26, 2023
6 min read
How to develop a music application?
by Daniel Moore
Tech Expert & Writer
Checked by
Quality Control team

Remember the old days when the only source of music would be CDs? Well, the time has changed now and CDs have been replaced by a single application on the phone. There are several music apps, such as Spotify, Apple Music, etc., that let us listen to songs anytime. But, certain music apps are not available at certain locations.

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In such a situation, is it a good idea to build your own music application? There will be millions of people who would want to listen to uninterrupted high-quality music without any storage or availability problems. According to IFPI (the organization that represents the recorded music industry worldwide) report, the global recorded music market grew by 7.4% in 2020 and the total revenues for 2020 were US$21.6 billion.

But if you want to build your own music app, then you need to know that there are different types of music apps: streaming, store, and storage apps. You need to choose the app type and examine its main features. In this blog, we will take you through the process of music app development.

Choose your music app type

The first thing that needs to be decided while starting to build a music application would be the type of the app. Let’s go through various kinds of music apps in the market.

1. Music streaming apps

The purpose of music streaming applications is for users to find music from thousands of songs in the database, customize playlists and recommend similar songs. Apps such as Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple Music are the most widely used music streaming apps.

The main features of such streaming apps are:

  • Discovery — The central feature of these streaming apps is the discovery feature. It lets you find songs and enables you to find similar genres.
  • Recommendations — Implementing a recommender engine to your music app provides your users with more relevant songs and albums.
  • Personalization — Music can be categorized into different albums depending on the genre, artist, alphabetical order, or even the mood of the song such as happy, sad, or romantic.

Spotify, apart from these general features, has added an exciting feature to its app. It has integrated the Spotify API into the existing app for the Spotnews project. The idea behind Spotnews is to help users be aware of the latest news while listening to their favorite music on Spotify.

2. Music store

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Music stores are like an extension of the music streaming services with a commercial trading element added to them. YouTube is one of the best examples of this category of apps.

The main features of these apps are:

  • Monetization — The majority of music applications these days work for free but they come with subscriptions for a premium membership to avail of special features.
  • Engagement — In addition to providing music, music store apps also use eCommerce tactics such as discounts, offers, etc.
  • Feedback — The networking in music store apps is also one of the most prominent features. Features such as comments and reviews help other users select well.

3. Music storage apps

How to develop a Music Application

Music storage apps are like curated music players where you can store the music in the phone’s internal storage or the cloud storage. You can make your own music list and create folders according to the genre, mood, etc.

The main music player app development characteristics are:

  • Customization — People use music storage apps so that they can customize their playlists according to genres into different albums.
  • Playback — The playback feature is one of the most important features of such apps. It acts as a significant extent of custom playlist moderation features.

4. Select the main features of the app

Now you need to decide what features you are going to incorporate into your application. Famous apps like Spotify have features like signing up/registering, menus, personal playlists, podcasts, etc. Let us discuss a few of these features in brief.

  • Search Option There should be an option that lets the user type in their preferred song/podcast so you can provide them with it from your database.
  • Signing-up/Registration — Every user who uses your app should be given a chance to signup or register for your application. This will benefit both the customer and the app's owner. The customer can be provided with personalized suggestions, create albums and playlists, post them to the public, save their preferences, etc. Every time a person signs up, the app has a loyal customer, and this is advantageous for the business.
  • Menu –- How do you present your customers with the different genres, albums, and songs for different moods or different paces? You make a menu. When users click on it, they should be able to access different songs under their preferred categories.
  • Push notification — These notifications give your users updates about your application and help you increase your engagement. Considerations to be made — once the main features have been decided, you will have to make these secondary considerations to implement the performance of your app.
  • High performance — The app needs to have good speed. When a user searches for something, it is preferable for the search results to show up within 300ms. Along with speed, users also wish to listen to uninterrupted high-quality music. The quality of streaming music is called bitrate. There are three different audio qualities available for mobile apps: normal (96kbps), high (160kbps), and extreme (320kbps). The higher the resolution, the better the quality and listening experience.
  • Recommendations — Use algorithms that collect data based on user behavior, preferences, and activities and then predict what the user would also like on the basis of similarity to other users.
  • Offline access — One of the main things a user expects from the music application is its ability to play music, even when the internet connection is very weak or when the user is offline. Some on-demand streaming applications include offline playback in their paid plans. Music that can be played offline is securely stored in a device’s cache.
  • Let users upload their own tracks — There are so many artists out there who got famous because they uploaded their own tracks on apps. The famous app Soundcloud got popular because of its ability to let users upload their own tracks on the platform. Soundcloud also has curation specialists to get rid of low-quality content on the platform.
  • Incorporating lyrics — When listening to songs, some users might also want to read the lyrics. It is a very good implementation to attract more users to your app. Apple Music in October 2018, came out with this amazing feature that shows lyrics in just one tap. Before that, people had to use a separate app called Musixmatch to see lyrics without leaving a music app.

5. Select the platform and tech stack for your app

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After selecting the features, you need to decide on the platform for your app. For platforms, you can go with:

  • Native iOS/Android app — Native apps enable you to interact with different operating systems securely. Since the market is equally distributed between iOS and Android, you can choose to develop on both platforms or go with one at an instance. Usually, they are written in Swift for iOS and in Kotlin or Java for Android.
  • Cross-platform app — React Native allows you to keep the time-money balance and to run on both iOS and Android with similar effectiveness.

You can develop a music app with any back-end solution. A few of the most used ones are:

  • Java
  • Python
  • PHP (used primarily for server-side logic)
  • Ruby on Rails (allows to make an MVP faster)

6. Decide on the right company and professional team for your app

It is very important to go to the right company to develop your application. You should look into their previous works and talk to their previous clients to learn about their experience with the company. It is also important to onboard the right team of developers for developers who are well-versed in the required programming languages.

7. Develop an MVP

You will never know how your music app is going to turn out and how people are going to receive it unless it's out there in the market. You will be unsure about the features to be added, the cost to be invested, and many other things. At this point, developing an MVP i.e. Minimum Value Product, could be the best thing. It can help you in validating your business idea and see people’s reception which will further help you in deciding the design and cost of the app.

8. How to stream music?

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  • Music Licensing — First of the four important steps while streaming is making sure the music isn’t pirated. You need to obtain a license issued by specialized companies of certain entities. You also need to pay royalties to the content owners once you start streaming their music. For example, Spotify retains only around 30% of the revenue and spreads the rest for royalties. Spotify pays up to $0.00437 per stream to the artists. This means that it offers one dollar for a total of 229 streams. Meanwhile, Apple Music pays artists up to $0.00735 on a single stream, which is much higher compared to Spotify. Services like Pandora and Deezer pay up to $0.00133 and $0.0064, respectively.
  • Data Storage — Amazon S3 (AWS) is the most commonly used back-end cloud storage that supports streaming. If you want to opt for something else, then any cloud service with a Content Delivery Network (CDN) will work.
  • Streaming — Let us look at Spotify’s protocol. They use TCP (Transfer Control Protocol) as it helps with congestion control and lost packet resending. Similarly, you also can use TCP, or go for the protocol which has the same features that will help you stream better.
  • Supported Audio Formats — Users will always want music with better quality. The better the audio format, the better will be the quality. So carefully select and curate the audio formats.

9. Monetizing Strategy

  • Subscriptions — Subscriptions are one of the easiest ways to make money for a music app. It can be done in two ways. First, you can let all the users sign in to your application and let them listen to songs. But the provision of special features such as offline music, personalization, etc., should be made available only to premium plan subscribers. For example, Pandora offers two plans, Plus and Premium. While Plus costs $4.99 per month, it allows users unlimited replays and skips. It also enables offline music and lets the user personalize the stations. Pandora Premium lets users download tracks and create playlists along with all the Plus features. Second, you can provide access only to users who purchase a subscription. For example, Tidal only has paid plans but provides users with high-definition music curated by experts. Tidal Premium costs $9.99 per month. All the apps under this category come with a free trial of 14 days or a month, or sometimes even 3 months but the user has to enter their credit/debit card details. They won’t be charged unless the free trial is over.
  • Ads — Everybody experienced small banner ads interrupting their music. They are called ads. A user can stop ads by updating to paid versions but either way, it is useful for the app owners. If upgraded, they get revenue from subscriptions. If not, they get revenue through advertisements.

Charging artists — Apart from paying the artists once the song starts streaming, music apps also charge artists. Soundcloud and Spotify are considered among the best places for new artists where they can release their tracks but this comes with a cost. For example, on Soundcloud, new artists are presented with three packages, SoundCloud Basic, SoundCloud Pro, and SoundCloud Pro Unlimited. The first one is free and lets users upload their track for up to a total duration of three and a half hours. While the second plan costs 7 Euros per month, with a total duration of up to 6 hours, the third plan has unlimited upload time and is priced at 11 Euros per month.


In today’s world, technology has developed so much that we do not have to rely on anything. Do you want a music app of your own? You can have it by following the above-mentioned points. We have presented you with different types of applications, different features and considerations, monetization strategies, and even the procedure to stream music. Choose what you want to build, and with a clear idea and the right set of developers, you will definitely be able to achieve it.

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