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How to Create a Streaming Music App: From A to Z

The music streaming app market is one of the most profitable digital niches these years. Empowered with wireless technologies development, high-speed Internet standards global spreading (4G and 5G), and copyright policy in the media distribution area, streaming apps obtain 14.0% in 2019 with 15.3% forecasted by 2023.


How does the music app work? Services of that kind provide tools for legal music distribution charging users a subscription fee or working according to the Freemium model (free use of limited features). 


In 2019, the revenue gained by the music streaming segment reached $11,110 million and its annual growth is going to show 4.1% comparing to 2023. Considering this, creating a music app seems like a great idea for digital startupers. Learn how to do it from our new article!  


The number of songs streamed in the United States since 2013 (Statista)



How to Make a Music App: What Should You Know


So what are streaming music services? Streaming music (audio) is the technology of wireless delivering media in digital formats directly from the Internet without downloading media files. 


Music delivered with the streaming technology could be heard from any Internet-connected device with dynamics and sound cards including smartphones, computers, tablets or IoT-connected media systems (learn more from IoT Ideas and Business Opportunities in 2020). 


Within the streaming technology, audio files are delivered to the Internet device in small packs that are going to be downloaded and then deleted from the device buffer one by one.   


Streaming music works with various digital audio formats like WMA, FLAC, or, what is more common, MP3. In most cases, users can also download audio from the Internet to the streaming music app and listen to them offline. However, after the subscription period is over, tracks will become inaccessible. 


If you plan to make a music app, take into consideration that the global music streaming market is a highly competitive environment with several dominant players — Spotify, Apple, Amazon Music, Deezer, Pandora Media, and Google. Although, all of them have both a high user retention rate and an extremely huge number of downloads globally, local and innovative products still have chances to become demanded and therefore profitable. Slacker and Saavn are good examples. 


How to make a music app that could easily become popular? Choose your monetization strategy carefully, deciding if your service should be paid (Google Music) or free (Spotify) to enjoy music. 


That is also important to find your target audience. Most of the dominant streaming music services are aimed at attracting individuals (B2C). At the same time, the commercial use niche (B2B) audience has a need for the same product. The B2B market is not that competitive as B2C one (Spotify for Business, Brandtrack, Sound Machine are a couple of B2B focused apps). 


Mind, that streaming music market is not homogenous. niche leaders stuff their products with lots of features and make them look like services for a person with any possible music needs. However, specialized apps show higher user loyalty. 


Here are three types of services on the streaming music market:


  • Media libraries

Examples — YouTube Music (Google), SoundCloud, Pandora


  • Instant radio stations 

Examples — AccuRadio, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM


  • Cloud storages (users can download their content to the Internet)

Examples — pCloud, CloudPlayer, Beat 


The percentage of streaming music revenue compared to general music industry revenue in the US (Statista)



Create a Music Streaming App: Discovery Stage 


Well, you’ve got an app idea and a general understanding of what type of product you are going to create. Definitely, that is not enough to proceed with tech issues. What we advise you to do to break new grounds is to conduct market niche research and study your target audience. 


How to make a music app and what exactly should you do on the discovery stage of your project? Competitive analysis is the answer. Describe your product listing its key features and function set and define the market segment it is going to belong to (media library, cloud storage, radio station, theme streaming music platform, or everything at once). That is also important to find your mission and goals. 


Then, find answers on the following questions: 


  • What brands and products are your direct competitors 

Study unique selling points (USP), the number of customers your competitors serve, estimate their profits and monetization model, find the advantages and disadvantages of their products and users’ geography. 


Mind, that in most cases music streaming services have similar USP, however, their unfair advantage may differ. For example, YouTube Music gains its users from regular YouTube which is one of the top services on the Internet and Deezer uses exclusive algorithms to show you new tracks.  


  • What product and brand are your indirect competitors 

Consider your product mission and tasks your product helps to solve and find out what other products could be used to cover the same issue. Think of why should people use your product instead of other platforms and why they should not. 


Note! Since music is about entertainment, our major competitors may be far from music area. Check audiobooks services, games, yoga apps, and news platforms also.     


When you are done with those points, you are likely to have the list of extra requirements for your app. With their help, you may continue shaping and transforming your app idea. At this stage, it is high time to conduct your target audience research that will be resulted in a thoughtful marketing strategy and UX requirements. 


Creating a music app, don’t avoid making those points clear: 


  • Will your app serve individuals (B2C) or business (B2B)?
  • Will you get money from users or brands (advertisement, sponsorship)?
  • What is the geography of your target users?
  • What are the main reasons for your audience to use your product?
  • What is your target audience segmentation (age, gender, occupation, level of income, devices, education, and interests)? 


Keep in mind that your app could be demanded by several target audience groups at once. Try to define them and give a precise description of each. In the future, you may have separate promotion campaigns for those user groups. 


UX and UI will be also affected by the data gained during the research. The same works for your platform solution as your app should be suitable for the target audience’s most common devices. Learn more about platforms from our iOS vs Android article. 


And an important question you need to answer before taking another step is if your app is likely to be profitable on not. If yes, then, how many users should you attract within the MVP period? Plan your profits. 


Ready to build your music streaming app?

Contact LANARS to estimate your idea


Make a Music App: Key Features


You need the list of app features for two reasons. First, it will help you to estimate the app development budget. Second, it will make it possible for your executive team not to disappoint you with their final product. 


That is a good idea to separate MVP (essential) features from all others. Develop MVP to save your budget and to check your marketing hypotheses. Audio streaming, account personalization, and recommendations are likely to be your MVP’s features. 


Key features could be listed in an informal way on the discovery stage to provide your team with a general project overview. However, on the development stage, it is important to evaluate your features vision creating a product requirement document (PRD) that will give anybody full information about product functionality. 


How to create a music app? To learn details on PRD, read our blog articles App development Process: From Idea to App Maintenance and How to Hire Dedicated Developers? Best Tips For Hiring Dedicated Developers in 2020. And from the text below, find out what features streaming music apps should have.


Streaming apps common features


Sign up, sign in, and personal account maintenance

40—50  hours 


If you plan to make money out of your streaming startup, user authentication is necessary. Within the Freemium monetization model, it will help you to divide paid accounts from free ones, sell targeted advertisement space, personalize the content, and provide users with in-app purchases features. 


Search engine and recommendations 

110—150 hours 


That is obvious that the main purpose for your customers to use your product is to find particular music and then to listen to it conveniently. The faster and the more accurate your search algorithm is, the more loyal your users will become. 


Keep in mind, that you’ll reach higher user retention levels with an appropriate tool to suggest them new (or yet unknown by them) music they will love. 


Personal playlists and libraries 

130—150 hours 


Most people are likely to listen to the same tracks over and over. Give them an intuitive and convenient tool to save and group their favorite tracks. Mind, that users appreciate when they’ve got a chance to save their time. Develop an algorithm that could range already played music and save it automatically. 


Audio streaming 

120—140 hours 


How does the music app work? As we said it split huge music files into small packs and deliver them to clients’ devices. Apps use cash technology and in-built device storage as a buffer to match small audio packs together and play as a track. Here, you need hardware integration. 


Offline access 

60 hours 


You may not need this feature if you build a free service. However, Freemium or paid music streaming apps have offline access to saved tracks as the most important feature. 


Offline libraries consist of downloaded tracks. They need to be saved to the inner device storage while being played first from the Internet or marked as tracks that need to be downloaded. 


Social networking   

50—70 hours 


Most music streaming apps are in fact social networks dedicated to a particular topic. Users can check activities of each other, share playlists, and make collaborative accounts. 


If you are not up to develop tools for communication within your service, don’t forget to make it possible for users to share links to their accounts or libraries on Facebook and other social media. 


Uploading media

50 hours 


Make young artists or those who’ve got personal exclusive music collection to use the benefits of your product and upload their content to personal libraries. Some of them would prefer just to have all their favorite tracks in one library, and others (artists) could use your service to share their albums with the audience. 



30—40 hours 


Want to be the first to know if your favorite artist got a new track? Ready to dive into the latest music trends? Interested if your friends found anything new on the Internet? Although music streaming apps do not necessarily have push notification features, they usually could let users know about updates when they are inside an app.   


Total — 500—800 hours for one native app (iOS or Android) or up to 600 hours for cross-platform development. 



Create a Music App: Non-Development Challenges


Working out a music streaming app be ready to deal with numerous side issues. 


Music is an object of creative copyright and music streaming is a legal environment. That means that to sell, copy, or present somebody's music to the public you’ve got to have an author’s permission. Sure, some tracks could be free to use in non-commercial cases. However, streaming music content and the service idea is not about that.


How to create a music streaming app with a low budget? People use streaming apps with paid subscription because it is cheaper for them to purchase a monthly subscription instead of buying each song they would like to listen to. 


If you choose a paid app concept, the money you’ll have received through subscriptions should be used for getting public performance rights (PPR) from national agencies of music distribution. 


In the US, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the American Society of Composers, and Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) are agencies where you could get your rights to perform music through your app legally. The Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC) is the same organization in Europe. 


How much do music app developers pay for licensing their platform content? Note, that there are at least 2 types of licenses you may get — Sound Recording License and Musical Composition License. The first means that you could use a particular track and the other provides you with rights for all music created by the author during a particular period. 


The other non-tech issue is marketing. We recommend starting working on your monetization concept and promotion campaign on the project discovery stage already. Learn more about app naming and positioning from our blog article How to Name an App. 

How Music App Developers Make Money: Monetization


Although that doesn’t seem to be easy to create your own radio station app, music app monetization is not so far complicated. As we’ve said before, you may divide the app into two groups — paid and free apps. 


Paid apps monetization remains direct: the owner receives money from clients who purchase an app once and use it without limits on one or more devices or pay subscription fees once a week, a month, or a year. 


A paid app could also have in-app purchase options. Some of them allow you to download tracks for a fixed price, others may give you a chance to reach libraries from a bigger number of devices. 


You could also make special purchases inside paid apps — buy concert tickets or fan products. 


To build a strong relationship with customer paid apps often propose them a free trial period. 


Most music streaming apps use the Freemium monetization model which means that the basic (limited) version of the product is free, while some extra features and content could be purchased according to subscription plans. There several most common features that could be available in premium packages: 


  • Offline music.
  • Multiplatform access.
  • Personal recommendations.
  • Personal tracklists and libraries.
  • Profile customization.
  • Exclusive content.
  • No-ads app version.


Premium features of free music streaming apps


How do Freemium apps make money with only a small amount of premium users? The idea behind Freemium is to give users a chance to get used to the app, find it convenient and helpful. That is the way how product—user relationships become closer. Then, it is easy to get money from users. And before free users become paid, an app showed an advertisement to them, getting money from companies.    


Creating a music app don’t forget that you are going to hit a highly competitive market with lots of experienced players. Some of them use the Freemium monetization model and allow users to download their products for free. To create some buzz around your app MVP try to reach as many users as it is possible using a free trial period or free limited version of your app. Our article How to Monetize Your App will be helpful for you on this stage.  

How Much Does it Cost to Make a Music App?


Streaming music app development is costly compared to most of health monitoring, carpooling, or even dating apps as your budget includes promotional costs, licensing your content, and creating integrative tools for delivering and playing audio files. An app development budget items could be split into several categories:


  • Research stage (competitors and target audience research), forming your startup idea, and listing app features, app development planning, budgeting  

who you need — Business Analyst, Marketing Specialist, Project Manager 


  • Design (features planning, UX and UI, data architecture)

who you need — UX / UI Designer, Data Engineer


  • Development and (after testing stage) deployment

who you need — Android / iOS Developers and Back-end Developers


  • Testing 

who you need — Quality Assurance Manager    


  • Marketing and promotion 

who you need — Marketing Specialist, Sales Manager, SEO Manager


  • Legal support 

who you need — Copyright Lawyer


  • Client support (providing 24/7 help for users of your app, solving money issues, and fixing crisises)

who you need — Account Manager


  • App tech maintenance 

who you need — Developer according to your platform and programming language 


How to make a music app? Choosing your app development team, mind that there a great gap between hourly rates of specialists from different geographical areas. In-house development is also economically reasonable only in case of a huge amount of digital products you need to build unstoppably. 


If your idea is to raise just one startup and then proceed with developing it as your own business, try outsourcing development. 


And if you are looking for a responsible dedicated development team, choose the one from Eastern Europe that remains a good region for remote cooperation because of great balance between execution quality and hourly rates (50$ per hour compared to 100$ per hour and more for specialists from the US or China). 


More information about rates and forms of remote development find in How to Hire a Dedicated Development team article. 


Global streaming music development dynamics (MIDia) 




Create a music app and benefit from it soon after the MVP launch! In 2020, streaming music apps are a great area for investing your money, time, creative potential, and skills. And two more facts. The average revenue per streaming app user amounts to $10.81 while last year over 900 billion songs were streamed through apps like Spotify and Pandora only in the US! 


How does the music app work and why do streaming apps are so popular nowadays? First, they provide users with quick access to almost any existing track through any Internet-connected device. 


Second, using streaming apps these days is more affordable than purchasing records in physical or digital form. 


Third, streaming platforms work as social platforms or (what is more common) interconnect with popular social media such as Facebook and Instagram. The last feature makes it possible for people to share their music-related experience instantly. 


Music streaming is also a legal environment where intellectual property is protected and authors could get benefits from their track’s popularity. In other words, creating a non-pirate music app you make it possible for the niche to grow rapidly.


It seems that in the upcoming decade you will not find any argument against investments in streaming app development! The only thing we want to advise you is to plan the launch of your startup carefully and keep in mind marketing issues.



It gives you access to a wide variety of songs. But some options will appeal to users with specific interests, and companies continually roll out new features to fight for consumers’ attention.

The best advice we can give is simple: work with someone who has experience in your area, especially if you don’t know how to code. Learn more in our article How to outsource app development smartly: the nerves-saving guide.

If you have an idea for an app but don’t know how to code you will need to hire software developers. They are divided into two popular types — in-house developers and outsourcing teams. Which one is better? Everything depends on your capabilities and requirements.

On average, apps can take anywhere between three and nine months to develop, depending on the complexity of the app and structure of your project. Each stage in the process takes different amounts of time to complete.

The application development speed depends on the quality of your team and the number of features you are going to implement. The price may vary from $25,000 to $100,000 and over. Check our article How much does it cost to make an app to know more.


Ready to build your music streaming app?

Contact LANARS to estimate your idea

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