How to Create a Music Streaming App

Curious how to create a music streaming app? We've got the answer! If you are interested which technologies you should use to build the app, how much time it can take, and how much can it cost - let's figure it out!

As you might already noticed, these days people switched from local music libraries to streaming. I think you won't be able to find people who still listen to music locally.

Streaming is much more comfortable than local libraries:

  • You don't spend precious space on your phone or laptop
  • It's cheaper: you don't need to buy all the music you would like to listen to
  • It's faster: you have (almost) all the music you need in one app
Table of contents
  1. Types of music streaming apps and services
  2. Pay your royalties
  3. Top music streaming apps you should know about
  4. Tech stack
  5. Registration and authorization
  6. Search
  7. Discover
  8. Player
  9. Additional features
  10. How to earn money with your music streaming service like Spotify?
  11. Summary

Types of music streaming apps and services

Certainly, when speaking about music streaming apps, we don’t always mean the same app. Some may think about a music player, and the others - about digital streaming apps. And no one is wrong: music apps are as different as chalk and cheese, not to mention the music itself.

Generally, there are two basic types of music streaming apps and services - on-demand and radio. On the one hand, radio apps are mostly used for music discovery and background music, but on the other, radio streaming apps are associated with DJs and podcasts. On-demand music streaming services are characterized by user-generated playlists that can be easily shared with friends. Let’s dive deeper into the differences between radio and on-demand music streaming apps before creating an app like Soundcloud.

Radio streaming apps

Pandora is the most popular radio streaming app on the market. Let’s check how it works. Radio services cannot stream your favorite song, but they can help you find new sweet music. Pandora carefully analyzes users’ preferences and mixes up a perfect music mix. Since users aren’t allowed to select a specific song, they can create their own radio stations based on bands, artists, albums, genres, or songs.

Radio streaming apps have music streaming licenses that don’t allow them to play songs on-demand. Hence, radio streaming apps are cheaper for both developers as well as users.

How to build a music streaming app - Girl with headphones

On-demand music streaming apps

Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple Music, and YouTube Music are the best examples of on-demand music streaming services. All these apps allow users to pick up their favorite songs and listen to them dozens of times.

Similar to radio streaming apps, on-demand music streaming apps also offer recommendations and discovery features based on users’ music preferences. But to build a music service like Pandora or Spotify, you need to sign and seal licensing agreements with major record labels as well as independent distributors. In this case, app development is a drop in the ocean.

Pay your royalties

Before launching your music streaming app, you should get rights on sound recordings, compositions, and songs. Did you know that the rights to sound recording and songs can be owned by multiple parties?

For example, an artist signs a contract with a label to record a song in the label’s studio. This recording also belongs (partially) to the label as well. But the song belongs to a songwriter. Hence they can also have rights for the song. It’s a little bit cumbersome, right?

But all you need to pay copyright holders for the right to reproduce or make copies of sound recording and compositions. These payments are known as royalties. Note, radio streaming services and on-demand music streaming apps require different licensing agreements.

Top music streaming apps you should know about

Spotify

-Spotify--Music-and-Podcasts-on-the-App-Store-2020-01-31-09-51-40

Spotify tops the audio streaming market along with Google Play Music and Apple Music. Spotify offers a wide range of music at no cost. But free plans have some limitations. The users with free accounts don’t get access to popular songs and albums. Along with the restrictions, Spotify is full of ads if you have a free account.

However, you can cancel all the restrictions by buying a premium account. The price for premium subscriptions starts at $9.99 a month. With a premium account, you get unlimited access to music.

There are a couple of extra options such as posting to their Facebook pages the music you’re listening to or a few-tap access to albums, artists, radio stations, playlists, etc. The thing that makes Spotify come forward is the eye-catching design and its ease of use.

Pandora Music & Poscasts

-Pandora--Music---Podcasts-on-the-App-Store-2020-01-31-09-53-11

Pandora fills up the time with exquisite songs. With the app, you can discover lots of new highly-quality music to listen to. Moreover, you can listen to the on-demand music service Rdio that is the best in a music streaming field.

The feature that sets apart Pandora is music recommendations. This means that a user chooses an artist or a song, and the music service suggests similar songs taking into account a lot of music characteristics, including tonality, beat, harmony, etc. Moreover, a listener can set their own “radio stations”.

Speaking about the pricing policy, there is a free account or a premium for $4.99. But the main drawback of the app is its area limits. Pandora works in the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia.

SoundCloud - Music & Audio

-SoundCloud---Music---Audio-on-the-App-Store-2020-01-31-09-54-28

SoundCloud is a mix of music streaming services and social media. The service became so popular thanks to some particular features. First of all, a user can download audio files, so the platform is an excellent launch for fresh artists.

Thanks to social media integrations, SoundCloud helps share recordings on Twitter or Facebook as well as various blogs and websites using the URL.
Unlike other popular music streamers, there is a possibility to leave a comment at any moment of the recording. To add more, a vast majority of popular music artists use SoundCloud so you can easily find your fav ones and find out what they are listening to.

The app is free to download, but there are two paid subscriptions - Pro and Pro Unlimited.

Apple Music

Apple Music on iTunes
Apple Music works flawlessly on any iOS-powered device since it was created for Apple devices. Did you know that even Android users can still use and listen to their favorite songs via Apple Music for Android? Apple Music features over 45 million songs and music compositions that are constantly updated.

One of the best things about Apple Music is its integration and seamless work with Siri and iWatch. In other words, if a user has several Apple devices, then Apple Music is the music streaming service to go for. But unlike any other music streaming services, Apple Music doesn’t have a web app.

YouTube Music

-YouTube-Music-on-the-App-Store-2020-01-31-09-58-28

YouTube Music is a relatively new music streaming service. It works well with any device regardless of its operating system. But the streaming services are believed to work better with Google's ecosystem of products.
YouTube Music has a rich library of songs and music compositions.

Along with that, the app has smart recommendations, pre-generated playlists, and top charts. YouTube also works well with Alexa. YouTube has a free version where users can listen to music, but that version is ad-supported.

How to develop a music streaming app

First of all, let's think about possible sections that application might need:

  • Registration and authorization. It is an optional part, but it would help improve users engagement: they will be able to save tracks to their libraries, view their listening history, maybe some stats, and so on

  • Search: this is the main part of the application, which will allow a user to search artists, albums and tracks. The easier it will be for a user to find what he wants, the better his experience will be.

  • Discover: even though this is not the most important feature, it is something that every app should have to improve the user experience. After some time liting to the usual music, the user might want to find something new, and this is where Discover part will help. Using sophisticated AI algorithms, we can suggest user new artists and tracks to listen. We can check what other people with similar tastes are listing to, new releases, his friends' favorite tracks, and much more.

  • Player. The core of the streaming application: plays the music, allows users to control it, "like" each track, view the queue, and more. If you want to create a music app like Pandora or others, you won't be able to do it without Player.

  • Additional features: depending on the application type, we can add social sharing, offline mode, social integrations, and much more. If you are going to make a music app like SoundCloud, you might also need Uploading features. These features are not that difficult to implement, but will dramatically improve user's engagement.

If you would like to create a music service like Spotify or would like to develop something completely different - just write to us at mail@mova.io

You might also be interested in another article where our developers sharing their knowledge: how to create an event app.

Tech stack

Streaming App - Tech

Let's first dive in, and try to understand how to make music app and what technologies we can use to make a streaming application. By default, every streaming app will have at least two sides: mobile application, user-facing side, back-end, and in some cases - Admin Panel.

Sixty percent of the development will take the mobile application. Ideally, it should be a native mobile application, written in Swift for iOS, and in Kotlin or Java for Android.

Basically, the mobile app will only fetch and display the data provided by the back-end, so all the heavy lifting will be done on a server. All the work with the database, authenticating users, searching tracks, suggesting new artists and updating user library - all the logic will be done on the server. The mobile app will only "ask" it to do some specific tasks.

Technically, the streaming app can work with almost every back-end possible. We can make it work with Ruby on Rails or Node.js, Elixir, and Phoenix, or Go, whatever you will prefer. However, if the client will not have any strong preference, we would suggest going with Ruby on Rails. This choice will help us to make MVP (minimum viable product) much faster than with other frameworks and will be easier to maintain in the future. A large community of Ruby developers will be helpful here as well - this is a mature framework, that was used to create projects like Basecamp, Hulu, Zendesk, Github, and much more.

Admin panel will help project owners and admins managing everything. Adding new tracks, changing artists descriptions, managing users, updating pricing and plans, and much more. It is a good idea to start with fewer features in the admin panel, and add them when admins will really need them.

Technically, admin panel can be done in multiple ways. Simple HTML pages generated by Ruby on Rails: it will be enough for admin in the very beginning. Depending on a budget and admin features, we can go with a more sophisticated tech, like Angular.js, React.js, or more. It will help make the admin interface faster and feel smoother.

Our iOS developers worked on apps mentioned by The Washington Post and NY Times. If you need help developing a new and successful product, check our iOS application development services or send us a message: mail@mova.io

Registration and authorization

Streaming App - Spotify

Even though registration is optional in streaming apps, it is highly suggested. It will allow the project owner to have better analytics data, learn more about users, and better understand user behavior. For users, registration will mean more personalization, better music discovery, own library, and much more.

There are different ways to implement registration and login in the application:

  1. Classic email+password approach: the user will need to provide his email, think of a password, and fill some additional forms if required (like name, address, and more, depending on project goals). Development can take around 25 hours and would cost approximately $875 (with a $35/h hourly rate).

  2. Phone login: the user will provide his phone, and instead of a password that he would need always to remember, our server would send him an SMS with a verification code. This way might not always be convenient - if the user lost his phone, he would have problems accessing his last account. However, this method will be cheaper: around 12 hours, or $420.

  3. Social logins: this method will allow the user to sign in with already existing accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others. This is a faster and easier way to log in, but we will need to think of social networks that are most commonly used amongst your target audience. On average, one social network integration can take 8-12 hours and can cost up to $420. Even though integrating one social network login can be cheap, it is a good idea to have at least two methods, just to be sure that user will have an account in the selected network. Or even combine Social Logins with Phone or Email authorization.

Search

Search is a simple but essential part of the application. It will allow a user to search music online by a given keyword. When the user enters something, we will send his request to the server, where back-end will try to find an artist, album, or a track that matches user's request. When done - we will show what we found to a user in a Search Results screen.

Average implementation time can take around 26 hours and can cost about $910 with a $35/h rate.

Discover

Streaming App - Discover

Discover is one of the most exciting features and one of the most complicated ones. Our mobile and back-end developers will need to write an AI algorithm (artificial intelligence) that will suggest users new music according to their tastes. So, how to create a music app that will also recommend new music to a user?

Depending on a budget, Discover can use following parameters to find new music for a user:

  • Similar Artists and tracks (under the same genre, for example)
  • Favorite Artist and Albums of user's friends
  • Favorite Artists and Albums of other users, who have similar tastes in music

And much more. Discover algorithm can always be improved. We can make a music streaming app with an elementary Discover feature (for example, suggesting music in a similar genre), and then "teach" an algorithm to recommend music in new and sophisticated ways. Development of a Discover feature will need at least 40 hours ($1400). The final price and timeframes will depend on a level of complexity.

In this article, we are trying to estimate a music streaming application. You might also be interested in another post from this series: how to make a dating app services.

Player

Streaming App - Player

The player is obviously a core feature of any music application. If you want to build an app like Spotify, you won't be able to skip a Player screen. Whether we will play audio files locally or will stream it from the server - we will need to show a Player screen to a user so that he can control everything.

Player screen is not just a name of a current song and an artist. It also has features like:

  • The album cover, and all the artist, album and track info;
  • Player controls: next or previous song, play, and pause, volume control;
  • List of the songs that will be played next
  • Additional features, such as "Liking" a song, adding it to a playlist, saving to user's library, integration with third-party services, and more.

Developing a usual player screen can take around 20 hours ($700). However, in the case with streaming applications, back-end developers will need additional time to add some changes to infrastructure to allow streaming, which will increase development time to 36 hours in total: $1,260.

Additional features

We just tried to understand how the main features of the music streaming app work, and how much they cost. If you are curious how to make your own music app even better, you might think of adding some of these features:

  • Artist Profile, Album Info: these are two different screens, but they represent more or less similar information. Some artist description, list of his albums, most popular tracks, and so on. This feature can take around 56 hours or $1,960.

  • User's Library: some streaming applications allow users to have their own library. This is a nice to have feature if you want to build a music app: whenever user likes a song, he will add into his library and will be able to find it later easily. Libraries can save artists, songs, albums, playlists. Depending on features that you might need to implement, user's library can take from 40 hours ($1,400) to 80 hours ($2,800) or more.

  • Payments: depending on your business model, you might need to pay for a music license (if you are going to include other artist's music). Besides, you might want to have some profits from the application and services as well, so you will definitely need to add a payment method to the app, so user can subcscirbe for Premium features, buy albums, and so on. Payments integration can take around 32 hours (if we will use Stripe or native In-App Purchases) and can cost approximately $1,120.

  • Admin Panel: to manage whole music library we will need some kind of Admin Panel. Usually, it also includes a list of users, some stats, and more. Depending on Admin Panel complexity, prices can be from $1,400 (around 40h of work, will include a way to upload new tracks, edit existing ones, and view user's data) to $2,800 and more.

  • Offline mode: Even though we are working on a streaming app, sometimes users might need to listen to music offline. We could access music from user's local storage, or cache tracks locally. Usually this is a premium feature, and not available for a free users.

Applications made by our developers are used by more then a million of happy users monthly. We can help you build a high-quality application! Write to us at mail@mova.io or check our Android application development services.

How to build a music streaming app like Spotify - Headphones on the table

How to earn money with your music streaming service like Spotify?

Music streaming is a highly profitable business niche though it requires paying royalties to copyright holders. Let’s find out how you can earn money with your music streaming app.

Charging users

Charging listeners is one of the most popular and still profitable monetization ways. But there are also several ways 🔽

Subscriptions. For example, you can provide basic features for free, but charge users for additional functionality. Spotify Premium offers to listen to songs offline, skip tracks, and listen to music in high quality. To get access to additional features, Spotify users pay around $9 a month.

Or you can provide services only to the users who pay for the services. In most cases, such apps feature a free trial. However, users need to provide their banking card details before starting a free trial.

In case you don’t want users to pay for the services, you can go for advertisements and provide users music streaming services for free.

Ads. We won’t write lots of words about ads since it’s the most popular monetization model for applications of various types. While using apps for free, users will be displayed with different ads. In case, users get annoyed by ads, they can buy a subscription and enjoy their ads-free music streaming.

Charging artists

Some streaming services can not only pay royalties to artists but also charge them for additional services.

Monetizing songs. SoundCloud offers young artists paid profiles with additional services to help new singers to view song statistics and upload tracks with a total duration of 3+ hours.

Promotion. Spotify also helps artists promote their songs. With Spotify Ad Studio, artists can create and manage ad campaigns for a price that depends on targeting location, age, and gender.

Develop a music streaming app for iOS - Man wearing headphones in the subway

FAQ

How to make a music app?

First, you need to find developers and define your niche - a radio or on-demand music streaming app. But developing a music streaming app is a tedious process that requires experienced developers and takes lots of time. Contact us, and let’s negotiate all the details.

How hard is it to make a music streaming app?

A music streaming app isn’t a simple app solution. It requires a top-notch back-end as well as an easy but good-looking design. At mova.io, we know how to mix technologies and style.

How much does it cost to make a music app?

It will take around $XXX to develop a music streaming app taking our average hourly rate of $XXX. But the following estimate is ballpark since the end price of your development project depends on many factors, including app features, your requirements, development time, etc.

How long does it take to make a music app?

Apps aren’t built in a day or two. When speaking about music streaming app development, it will take around X months to get a fully-functioning app. But the app will include only basic features.

Summary

Streaming App - Summary

We just tried to understand how to make a music app. Also, we've made estimations how much average music streaming application for iOS or Android can cost. Of course, every project is unique, and estimations can slightly change according to specification, user interface complexity, number of features, and more.

If you would like to estimate your own project, whether it is a music app, or something different - just let us know by writing at mail@mova.io.

And for now, let's finally see how much development of the whole app will take (for one selected platfrom - iOS or Android), and how much it will cost:

Feature Hours Costs
Login and Registration 25 $875
Search 26 $910
Discover 40 $1,400
Player 36 $1,260
Artist and Album Profiles 56 $1,960
User's Library 40 $1,400
Payments 32 $1,120
Admin Panel 40 $1,400
Total 10 weeks $10,325

As you can see, simple native iOS or Android music streaming application can cost around $10,000 and will take approximately 2.5 months from idea to releasing to App Store or Play Market. Depending on a budget and requirements, these estimations can be changed - we can only include features that your app needs most in the very beginning, and then continue adding features according to user's feedback after the release.

If you would like to develop an application, just let us know at mail@mova.io. Our team of experienced mobile and web developers is always ready to help!


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