12 Best Free Music Apps for iPhone

Woman in workout clothes listening to music on mobile phone
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Most people don't buy individual songs or albums anymore. Most of us pay a monthly subscription for unlimited music from services like Apple Music or Spotify. Those services are great deals, but some of the best music apps won’t cost you a dime. Whether you want to listen to a specific song or get a mix from your favorite genre or based on your mood, these iPhone apps are essential downloads. Click the app name to go to the App Store to download it or read the review of each app.

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8tracks Radio delivers over 2 million user-submitted mixes and "handcrafted" playlists for every taste, activity, and mood. Provide the app some basic info about what kind of music you want to listen to and it serves up a set of matching playlists. The free version of the app delivers all the core features, while the paid version removes ads, delivers unlimited listening, cuts out interruptions between playlists.

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Google play music icon
By Google (https://play.google.com/music) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Google Play Music offers three distinct kinds of music service. First, you can upload your own music to your Google account and then listen to it in this app over the Internet without having to download the songs or subscribe. Second, it offers free, radio-style playlists based on genre, mood, activity, and more. (These are the same features that used to be part of the Songza app. A few years ago, Google bought Songza.) Lastly, it delivers unlimited music streaming, a la Spotify or Apple Music—but you have to subscribe to get that.

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iHeart Radio
By Angelica5555 (Own work) [ CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The name iHeartRadio gives a major hint as to what you'll find in this app: a lot of radio. iHeartRadio brings you live streams of radio stations from across the country, so if you love the traditional radio experience, you'll probably love this app. In addition to music stations, you can also tune into news, talk, sports, and comedy stations. Even better, though, the app includes the ability for you to create your own custom "stations," Pandora style, by searching for a song or artist. Subscribe and you can save songs and listen to playlists offline.

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Apple Music Radio

apple music radio

The radio features of Apple Music started out as Apple's answer to Pandora: a streaming, radio-style music service that builds its playlists based on the songs or artists a user likes. It still offers those features—create your own playlists starting with any song or artist in your music library—but Apple has added Beats 1 to that. Beats 1 is its always-on, worldwide streaming radio station programmed by top DJs, musicians, and tastemakers. While Apple Music requires a subscription, Beats 1 is free to anyone.

 

pandora app

Pandora Radio is one of the most downloaded free apps from the App Store because it’s simple and works incredibly well. Pandora sets itself apart from other Internet radio apps because it compiles customized playlists based on the music you like. Pandora’s recommendations are usually spot-on, and I find it very easy to navigate. There's no longer a limit on the amount of music you can listen to each month, but if you want to remove ads or get unlimited song skips, you'll need to subscribe for US$4.99/month and up.

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red bull radio app

A streaming radio service from beverage company—and now global sports, entertainment, and beverage titan—Red Bull, this app delivers streaming music and journalism. In it, you'll find over 50 regular radio programs, as well as recordings and streams from top music venues from around the world.

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slacker radio app

Slacker Internet Radio is another music app that provides access to hundreds of radio stations from nearly every genre. You can also create personalized stations based on specific artists or songs. Slacker lets you fine-tune these stations by specifying song popularity or year. Listen to songs on demand, rather than just in a playlist, create your own playlists, and download songs to listen to offline by subscribing. 

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soundcloud app

Get the well-known and widely used SoundCloud experience on your iPhone with this app. The other apps on this list simply provide you music; SoundCloud does that, but it's also a platform for musicians, DJs, and other creative people to upload and share their own creations with the world. While the app doesn't allow for uploads on its own (the SoundCloud Pulse app covers that), it offers access to all that music and the site's other features, including discovery of new artists and social networking. In-app purchases add features like offline listening, removing ads, and unlocking songs that are only available to subscribers.

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spinrilla app

Stay up to date on the latest, hottest hip hop mixtapes with Spinrilla. The app delivers new releases and trending songs, lets you comment on music, and even supports downloading songs for offline playback. Upgrade to a Pro membership to remove ads from the experience.

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tunein radio app

There are so many radio apps available, but TuneIn Radio really sets itself apart. It includes more than 100,000 radio stations, covering not just music, but also news, talk, and some sports. Even better? You can also download radio programs to listen to offline. If you're a really big fan, subscribe and you'll get play-by-play coverage of every NBA, NFL, and MLB game, plus access to over 60,000 audiobooks and no commercials.

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uforia app

Fans of Latin music will want to be sure to download Uforia. The app offers access to 65 Latin radio stations, as well as a number of streaming-only stations that are exclusive to Uforia.  Save your favorite station for easy access later. One nice touch is a car mode, that presents just the key features of the app in a larger format for easier access while driving. More »

youtube music app

While most people think of it as a video site, YouTube is one of the most popular places for listening to music online. YouTube Music lets you start out with a song or video you choose and then creates stations and playlists based on that. Stations learn your taste over time. Subscribe to YouTube Red to remove ads from the experience, download songs for offline playback, and play music even when your phone's screen is locked. More »