Thanks to the wealth of quality audio apps available for mobile devices, your smartphone or tablet can become the ultimate music-discovery tool with the push of a button. Apps like Apple Music and Spotify put massive libraries at your fingertips, while dynamic radio programs like NPR Music and Pandora will unearth the best band you haven't heard yet. Up and coming apps like YouTube Music and Tidal add video and other offerings. There are tons of other music apps that deserve your ears, so here are 18 of our favorites.
Built on a backbone of iTunes Radio and Beats Music, the Apple Music (Android, iOS) streaming service offers subscribers a vast library of more than 30 million songs. Users can create custom playlists, try out new tunes in the "For You" category (which builds recommendations from your listening habits), check out featured content uploaded by artists through the "Connect" or explore curated playlists and the Beats 1 radio station. Free listeners can check out Beats 1, Apple Radio and content on Connect. Those who pony up for the $9.99 monthly subscription get the whole shebang.
Google's also stepping up its game with YouTube Music (Android, iOS), a music streaming and discovery app that builds on the vast community of users that use YouTube. Available on Android and iOS, and formerly known as Music Key, YouTube Music provides users with access to more than 30 million music videos. You can search for artists, videos and albums to automatically generate a non-stop station, with personalized stations learning from your preferences. Offering more then just music videos, the app nets you remixes, covers, full albums and classic recordings. YouTube Red subscribers get ad-free listening, as well as offline music, background listening and an audio-only mode that skips video downloads.
Tidal's (Android, iOS) claim to fame is the ability to stream high-fidelity music (either at CD quality 320kbps AAC or lossless FLAC audio) to your mobile device. Translation, if you're not an audiophile? It sounds fantastic. Tidal features an extensive library of more than 25 million songs, and users can also watch any of more than 75,000 ad-free music videos. Other extras include curated lists and music identification and discovery tools. The catch? There's no free tier, with Tidal Premium (320kbps AAC) costing $9.99 monthly, and Tidal Hi-Fi (lossless FLAC) setting you back $19.99.
Spotify has become synonymous with online streaming music, thanks to its familiar UI, Facebook integration and massive song library of more than 30 million tracks. The Spotify mobile app (Android, iOS, Windows Phone) has been updated to allow for more free music streaming than ever, and a $9.99 monthly subscription allows you to save an unlimited number of songs for offline listening. Factor in Spotify's Party DJ mode, pace-matching Running feature and personalized Discovery Weekly playlists, and you'll likely be hitting Play on this app for a long time to come.
Amazon's music streaming offering, Prime Music (Android, iOS), allows you to stream the music you've purchased from Amazon, as well as music stored locally in your smartphone or tablet. Prime subscribers ($99 per year) can also access a library of more than 1 million songs along with convenient playlists all through ad-free streaming. Perhaps the best part, users have the option to download Prime songs, albums and playlists to your device for easy offline listening.
Google Play Music provides subscribers with ad-free streaming and downloading from a pool of 30 million songs from numerous genres and artists. You can create your own radio stations with your favorite albums and artists, check out staff picks, or listen to pre-made playlists on your mobile device, with Play Music improving its music recommendations based on your listening habits. All this is on top of the free features of Play Music (Android, iOS), such as the ability to upload up to 50,000 songs from your music library to a cloud locker for streaming and download.
Pandora has been providing personalized online radio for years, and the service is continuously improving. This free app allows you to create stations based on your favorite artists, and has a newly added alarm function so you can start your day with some inspiring tunes. There's no longer a 40-hour-per-month listening cap for the Pandora mobile app (Android, iOS, Windows Phone), so you can enjoy as much custom radio as your phone battery can handle. If you step up your listening experience with Pandora One ($54.89 per year or $4.99 per month), you'll enjoy ad-free playback, more song skips and access to the Pandora desktop app.