How to develop a music app: Startup guide with key features and costs

How to make a music app step-by-step

The music industry is growing fast, and innovations are becoming more and more interesting every year. It happens because listeners’ requests are changing swiftly — people used to listen to music only on vinyl records, but now few people purchase physical media at all. Music streaming applications meet the latest requests of listeners and therefore get big revenues. If you are also interested in music streaming app development, in this article, we will answer the questions of how to do it, what to consider and how much it costs.

Is music app development worth it?

The digital music market is growing year by year, and its revenue in the USA is expected to increase to 15 billion dollars by 2027. It has already increased astronomically — in 2014, the revenue was just 1.9 billion dollars, and by 2021 it raised to 12.4 billion.

Music app development revenues

The music streaming segment is the biggest one in the market and is going to remain such. Since streaming has become very popular, digital music platforms are flourishing while physical music formats and the number of music downloads decline. Just like revenues, the number of paid subscribers has been rising — it reached 616.2 million by 2022.

These statistics show that it’s pretty profitable to create music apps, especially in the streaming segment. In the years ahead, such apps will stay in high demand — you only need to come up with a relevant music app idea.

Market leaders overview

Now let’s look at the current key players in the music app market and highlight their strengths and weaknesses.

Music app development market share


Spotify is the ultimate leader among music streaming services. With AI algorithms, Spotify knows its users’ tastes better than anyone else and can create personalized playlists with extremely accurate music recommendations that are close to 100% match. The app has a huge library of high-quality music — more than 80 million tracks. It also gives artists an opportunity to spread their music easily and get money for it. The app provides lyrics for quite a number of songs and allows users to download music to listen to when offline and share it on social media platforms. Spotify has a free version and several Premium plans, including discounts for students, couples, and families.

Currently, Spotify doesn’t provide high-resolution lossless audio.

Apple Music

Before Apple Music, the company used to sell music downloads through iTunes. The service still exists, but Apple has decided to switch to music streaming, hoping to compete with Spotify. To do this, they created Apple Music — a music streaming app developed specifically for Apple devices. Like Spotify, the app creates personalized playlists, provides listeners with real-time lyrics, allows them to download tracks to listen offline, etc.

The app doesn’t have a free version or robust social media sharing options.

Amazon Music

The service is very similar to the previous ones — it also uses AI, has mostly the same features, and provides access by subscription. Unlike Apple Music, the app has a free version, and unlike Spotify, it has a subscription plan for lossless audio. It’s possible to control Amazon Music with voice commands through Alexa.

Amazon Music doesn’t allow listeners to use native built-in equalizer.

Tencent Music

It’s a company that dominates music streaming in China. It offers several online music apps like QQ Music, Kugou Music, Kuwo Music, and WeSing. Apart from online music, Tencent services have live streaming, online karaoke, and online concerts features. The platform also has social interactions and helps artists to create and monetize their music works.

Most of these apps are only available in China.

YouTube Music

This service is the youngest one and takes less of the market share. However, YouTube Music has some interesting features that distinguish it from competitors. It works almost the same way as the previous apps but also shows music videos and live concert performances. YouTube Music has a proper recommendation system that helps users to discover new tracks. With a Premium account, users can watch videos without ads and listen to music in the background and without video.

The app lacks hi-res audio, and many users complain that playlists are inconvenient.

Loud names like Apple, Amazon, and YouTube might scare you at first — of course, they lead the market, as they’re giant corporations. However, Spotify was a small startup in the beginning, and it managed to outgrow the competition by slowly building upon the killer features. With a worthy idea, it’s possible to enter the market and take a firm position.

How to make a music app

Before you start searching for music app development contractors, you need to know the basics. We’ll share things that you need to consider and problems you might face.

Come up with an idea

When it comes to startups, ideas are everything. Simply developing a Spotify clone won’t help you earn users’ love and trust. That’s why you need an idea that can make your app unique. Think about the needs of your target audience — what features they miss in other online music apps, what experience they want to get, etc. If your future app will specifically target audiophiles, then you’ll need high-resolution tracks, while if your potential users are indie fans, then you’ll need to focus on supporting new artists.

A great example of such specific focus is the Idagio app. It’s a streaming app for classical music only. It also provides users with recommendations, playlists, and different subscription plans. Concentrating on listeners of classical music let Idagio stand out against competitors and get a loyal user base.

Relevant ideas to make a music app

Get a license

This is a crucial step in music app development and we don’t recommend skipping it. Streaming music without a license can lead you to paying huge penalties — up to $150,000 for each composition played without proper authorization.

Every country has its copyright laws and agencies that handle Public Performance Rights licenses.

Leading music streaming companies also sign contracts with music labels and individual artists that wish to distribute their works through the app.

Take care of UI/UX

Before starting music streaming app development, you should create an intuitive and visually pleasing user interface. If you ignore the importance of UI/UX, users might leave your app despite the perfect technical implementation. The interface should be easy to navigate, nice-looking, and reflecting your company’s ideas and values at the same time.

Making a music app design concept
This is our concept of a music player design

We often share tips on UI/UX design and guides on how to avoid common mistakes — check out our Stories and articles to learn more.

Set up a tech base

If you want to build a music app, you should choose technologies that can cover the main features of your app and let you build upon them in the future. The tech stack can vary from one app to another, but there are several things you’ll need for sure: a scalable database, cloud storage, and real-time data management.

For example, these are the main technologies that Spotify uses:

  • Java for Android development
  • Objective-C for iOS development
  • C++ for desktop apps
  • Amazon S3 as a cloud storage
  • PostgreSQL and Cassandra as databases
  • Kafka for real-time data management and processing
  • GraphWalker for model-based tests
  • Nginx as HTTP and proxy server

When it comes to choosing a platform, it all depends on your business needs and budget expectations. If your audience mostly uses Android phones, it’s better to start with Android development and create an iOS app later. You can also kill two birds with one stone and create a cross-platform app using React Native.

Choose a monetization strategy

There are two typical monetization strategies used in music apps:

Paid subscription — Users pay for using the app monthly or yearly. Usually, apps offer several subscription plans, these can include discounts for students and families.

Ads — Users get a free app but have to listen to commercial blocks. This monetization strategy helps to attract new users and makes your app more accessible.

You can combine both types of monetization, for example, Spotify uses ads in the free version and subscription in the premium version. Usually, users start with the free version to check if they like to use the app, and then they switch to the subscription to get rid of the ads and get access to more features.

How much does it cost to make a music app

To calculate the music streaming app development cost, we need to know the scope of work. Here we made a list of key features for a music streaming app — enough to enter the market and validate your idea.

  • Sign up
  • Making playlists
  • Music search
  • Music player
  • Recommendation system
  • Equalizer
  • Payments

Don’t forget to add your killer feature to distinguish your app from competitors and attract users. According to statistics, an average music enjoyer from the USA mostly cares about the quality of sound and the service price.

It is our rough estimate based on the list of key features.

How much does music app development cost

In general, the cost of music streaming app development with Ronas IT ranges between $60,000–$90,000 for an MVP. The costs and timelines are approximate so if you wish to get a precise quote, you can contact us anytime by clicking the link below or checking the Mobile app development services page.

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