How to Make a Music Streaming App: Technical and Legal Guidance

09 Jan 2019
12 min
author avatar
Nataliya Kh.
Business analyst

Mobile apps have ultimately changed people's attitude towards music and the music listener's consumer market. Therefore, music applications are mushrooming in app stores. Certainly, when speaking about music apps, we don't always mean the same thing. Somebody thinks of a music player, somebody else -- of digital audio workstations. And both of them are right: music applications are as diversified as the music itself. If your ambition is to create a music app, let's first see what types of them exist.

How to Create a Digital Streaming App?

So, how to create a music app for you? Each of them deserves special attention, however, following the global trend of moving away from downloads and towards online music streaming services, let's devote our attention to the creation of the latter.

Music App Market Leaders

What is actually going on in the crowded market of streaming music services? According to Nielsen report, audio streams grew 83.1 percent to 144.9 billion streams.

Streaming app usage

Streaming app usage

This evidently shows the growing demand for music streaming apps. A few well-proven and much-loved mobile apps firmly occupied the niche. So, I suppose taking a brief look at them wouldn't be a bad idea if you are serious about creating a music streaming app.


Spotify is a role model in making music app successful. This music streaming app is in line with the two streaming giants -- Apple Music and Google Play music. It's no secret that Spotify has grown fast offering an enormous selection of music at no cost. Free accounts have some limitations in the number of songs from popular albums or new albums, delay and, of course, ads. However, premium accounts are unrestricted. The monthly subscription for a premium account costs $9.99. This price covers unlimited access to a huge vault of music. 

If you want to create music app like Spotify, keep in mind some extra options. For example, users can post to their Facebook pages the music they are listening to. Spotify also has few-tap access to complete libraries of artists, albums, radio stations, and playlists even if the user's choice is based on their mood. The distinctive feature of Spotify music streaming is its overall eye-catching experience and usable interface.

Spotify app is available on desktop and both iOS and Android devices.

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Pandora app is also highly competitive in the world of streaming services due to the decent audio quality and great customizable options. Additionally, it has acquired the on-demand music service Rdio and reclaimed its title of being among the best in the music streaming game.

The feature that singles Pandora out is that it's based on a recommendation system. This means the user chooses an artist, for example, and the service suggests similar songs using numerous different characteristics, like off-beat, tonality, harmony, etc. The listener can set his own 'radio station' according to their preferences. The number of such lists can go up to one hundred. It's a good idea to pay attention to a recommendation feature, if you want to create music streaming app and make it successful.


See a detailed step-by-step guide on how to create an app like Pandora.

As for subscription price, there is a free account and a premium one for $4.99 per month. Pandora covers iOS and Android platforms, however, is currently available only in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.


SoundCloud's music streaming service is the combination of a music streaming service and social media. The service gained its popularity due to some specific features. First of all, anyone can upload their personal audio files, and the platform has turned into a great launch pad for young local artists.   

SoundCloud helps share recordings in popular social networks, like Twitter or Facebook, and blogs or websites using the URL or specific widgets. SoundCloud also provides a unique opportunity to leave a comment on any audio file. One more great feature is that SoundCloud is used by lots of artists and anyone can find their favorite band's playlist to find out what they listen to on the road.

SoundCloud music streaming apps are available for iOS and Android devices, as well as a desktop version. Apps are free to download and offer two tariff plans for paid subscribers PRO and PRO Unlimited.

As you can see, the music streaming market is really competitive. The experience of these music streaming apps shows that if you want to play in the big league, your app should have some distinguishable features to offer. Let's move on and find out what features and technology can be used to make your own music apps.

How to build a music streaming app

There are usually so many things to consider before getting to music streaming app development. First of all, the type of application you are going to create. It's obvious, you may say, -- Music streaming app. However, there are a few types of streaming music services:

  • Music Library. Simply put, you can create a server-based music library and provide your customers with access to it under your conditions -- flat rate, free or partially free access.
  • Cloud Storage. You let the users store their songs and stream them anywhere and anytime they like.
  • Theme Radio Stations. This kind of apps is for drawing Radio Stations together and arranging them by certain themes, which can be streamed to PC, home audio or any mobile device.

The process and strategy of how to create a streaming service directly depend on which type of streaming app you want to have. Another significant factor is the set of features your application is going to have. As usual, there is a required feature set and some additional features to make your app stand out.

Data Storage Principles

To start with, before you build a music streaming app, you have to take care of data storage, where music files will be held. Of course, you need a backend server that supports streaming. So, you can consider using such services as AWS.

Another option is to stream from Spotify or SoundCloud catalogs using SDK and API provided by them. However, you should keep in mind the restrictions listed in Terms of Use for developer tools.

Actually, if you wish, you can do without third-party streaming APIs and create a data storage based app on a self-hosted server. In this case, you upload your songs into a readable directory on your server. Of course don't forget that when you create a music streaming app, you have to deal with licensing, but we will talk about that later.

What features music streaming app should have

Whatever the app you are about to start on your phone, there is always a set of features you expect it to have. Music streaming app is not an exception. The following features you are more likely to have in your streaming application.

Registration and authentication

Does a music streaming app actually need registration? Well, by all means, it wouldn't be right to say that any streaming app needs user registration. It usually depends. You can let anyone use your service without creating an account. However, if you are going to gain some profit by providing premium features or want to let users create their playlists, you have to think of registration and signing-in features when you build music streaming app. You have many options -- to implement social network authentication, like via Facebook or Twitter or to use email or mobile numbers as a registration method.

Discovery and search

Users are going to use your app not only to listen to their favorite tracks but also to discover new ones. Besides, you shouldn't rule out communication. Let users meet like-minded people in your app and they will stay there longer. Users can search for the music by artist, title, album, recording studio, or genre. Or you can offer them alternative options as well. When you create streaming app, think of providing your streaming app users with recommendations based on their previous choice or creating something similar to the user's preferences playlists. And playlists are what our next feature is about.

Spotify streaming

Spotify streaming

Adding to the libraries and playlists

You cannot deny that the opportunity to create playlists wouldn't be a bad idea in a music streaming app. What's more, your app users would be grateful if you give them a chance to store their songs, playlists, and albums in a library.

Social sharing

Do you know the best way how to make a streaming app popular fast? Use social media! It's no secret that mobile users are deeply involved in social networks. So chances are high that they would love to share tracks or playlists, especially if you choose Facebook or other social network authentication. Also, it's a golden opportunity for you to attract more users.

Online and offline access

Let me put it simply. When users can get seamless access to the Internet, they are likely to turn on the online mode. In case your user can't go online that easily, offline mode lets them store a local copy of the song in their library. This feature is also useful if they want to minimize bandwidth usage. So, it's worth implementing when you create a streaming service.

Optional features of a music streaming app

Your app is like a blank canvas which has yet to be painted on. You can add any features you want when you build a music app to make things work. We just want to suggest a few to you.

Event Calendar

A great feature that would be appreciated by concert-goers. You help them track down tour dates and upcoming concerts or fan club meetups -- whatever you wish.


Who doesn't like to be special? Having an app that recognizes you as a unique individual, is so flattering. The choice of songs can be based on the user's mood, time of the day, weather, place, and anything you can think of. All you have to do is integrate the right controllers when you create your own music streaming service.

Mood Control Animation

Mood Control app concept by Cleveroad


Check out these five personalization tools that can take user engagement to a completely new level.

Let users upload music

Following SoundCloud's example, you can let your users upload their own music tracks. Make sure, however, that you are able to handle licensing wisely.


How to make music app appealing to users? The visual design which the streaming app embraces is as important as the many features your app provides. A simple addition of appealing visual effects can help your app stand out and increase the number of users.  Take a look at this Audio Visualization View concept, which can be integrated with your streaming app.

Player concept

Player concept

Android visualizer

It is an open-source library for Android apps. It deals with audio streams, ensures seamless performance, and has an attractive UI. The library helps users solve some sound processing needs:

  • Visualizing while playing audio files;
  • Visualizing of speech recognition feature;
  • Visualizing while audio recording.

The Android app can be stuffed with a marvelous and convenient audio widget.

Music player widget

Music player widget

Though, when experimenting with some visual effects, don't forget about usability. Otherwise, all your efforts might prove to be incorrect.

Don't forget of licensing

One more point in favor of choosing subscription services is music discovery without the need to buy songs. Music streaming services are a so-called 'legitimate environment'. Licensed music services build a trusting relationship between your app and users. Even though the price for it would be refusal of providing free accounts.

So, if you want to start your own music streaming service, you need the Public Performance Rights. In the United States, it can be handled by one of three agencies: The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) or Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI). To stream music in Europe, apply to the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC).

Let’s consider this issue in details. If you want to create an app like Spotify, you can keep up with its licensing scheme. Spotify gets 2 types of licensing for streaming music:

  • Sound Recording License agreements, which cover the rights to a particular record;
  • Musical Composition License Agreements, which cover the people who own the rights to the song.

Thus, Spotify signs contract with large music labels like Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment Group and others to stream music easily covered by rights from these companies.

We strongly DON’T recommend avoiding licensing and stream music without permissions. In the case of a lack of proper licenses, you will need to pay damages from a minimum of $750 up to a maximum of $150,000 per one song played. So keep it in mind.

How to monetize music streaming app

The recent report of Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has shown the global movement in the world music industry. It's the first time when revenues from streaming surpassed all other categories: digital download and physical product.

Music streaming revenue

Music streaming revenue

This means people, more than ever, tend to pay for music streaming services rather than separate music tracks. Therefore, music streaming apps can gain profit without any special efforts. Generally, you have two main alternatives when you create your own streaming service.

  1. Provide a free access to your streaming service. As long as your music consumers don't mind listening to advertisements, let's say, every five songs.
  1. Subscription-based monetization models. Premium features or unlimited access to any songs or albums, whenever users wish comes at a price.

See more monetization strategies and choose the right for your business.

Out of these two effective monetization models you can find a middle ground -- music streaming apps can combine both strategies. That will be the basis for creating a thriving music marketplace that ensures users' retention and loyalty.

We couldn't be more excited about the idea of creating a winning music streaming app with you. Throw us a line and let's do this!

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