13 Best Free Music Apps for iPhone

The very best music streaming apps you should be trying

You don't have to buy individual songs or albums. Instead, purchase a monthly subscription and stream unlimited music from Apple Music, Spotify, or Amazon Prime Music. Whatever your listening habits, these free music apps for iPhone are essential downloads. While all these apps are free, some require a paid subscription to listen. About half, however, are free with ads (like old-fashioned radio).

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Spotify

Spotify iPhone app
What We Like
  • User-friendly interface.

  • Spotify Singles, Podcasts, and other exclusive content.

  • Enormous music library with curated streams and playlists.

What We Don't Like
  • Can't skip tracks in the free version.

  • The free account is limited to 15 playlists and 750 songs.

  • The free account is ad-supported.

The biggest name in music streaming, Spotify has more users around the world than any other service. It has a huge music catalog, cool sharing and social features, and Pandora-style radio stations. It recently added podcasts to its collection—including many that are exclusive to Spotify—making it a go-to destination for all kinds of media, not only music.

While iPhone owners used to pay $10 per month to use Spotify on iOS devices, there's now a free tier that lets you shuffle music and playlists without a subscription (you'll still need an account). You will have to listen to ads with this version, though.

To unlock all the features of Spotify, the $10 Premium subscription is required. With that, you can avoid the ads, save music for offline listening, and enjoy music in a higher-quality audio format than with the free tier.

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Pandora

Pandora iPhone app
What We Like
  • Personalized listening based on song, artist, or genre.

  • Easy to find new music and podcasts.

  • Music library contains 30 million songs.

What We Don't Like
  • The free version is ad-supported.

  • Need a subscription to remove ads or add more skips.

  • No live content.


Pandora is one of the most downloaded free music apps on the App Store because it's simple and works well. It uses a radio-style approach, where you enter a song or artist, and it creates a station of music you'll like based on that choice. Refine the stations by giving a thumbs up or thumbs down to each song, or add new artists or songs to a station.

With a gigantic database of music tastes and relationships powering it, Pandora is a terrific tool for discovering new music.

The free version of Pandora lets you create stations. However, you have to listen to ads, and it limits the number of times you can skip a song in an hour. The $4.99 per month Pandora Plus removes ads, lets you listen to four stations offline, removes all limits on skips and replays, and offers higher-quality audio. For $9.99 a month, Pandora Premium offers all of those features, plus the ability to search for and listen to any song, make playlists, and listen offline.

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iHeartRadio

iHeart Radio iPhone app
What We Like
  • Live radio channels at any time or place.

  • Stations include music, news, sports, talk, and comedy.

  • Full access to a podcast library.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited music library.

  • Requires a subscription to skip songs or listen to songs on demand.

  • The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2018.

The name iHeartRadio gives a major hint as to what you'll find in this app: a lot of radio. iHeartRadio delivers live streams of radio stations from across the country. If you love the traditional radio experience, you'll probably love this app.

But that's not all it does. In addition to music stations, you can also tune into news, talk, sports, and comedy stations. There are also podcasts available in the app from iHeartRadio-affiliated sources, and you can create custom stations, Pandora-style, by searching for a song or artist.

That's all in the free app, but some upgrades deliver more features. The $4.99 per month iHeartRadio Plus subscription lets you search for and listen to virtually any song, provides unlimited song skips, and lets you immediately replay a song you heard on a radio station.

If that's not enough, iHeartRadio All Access ($9.99 per month) adds full offline listening, gives you the ability to listen to any song in the Napster music library, and lets you create unlimited playlists.

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Apple Music

Apple Music iPhone app
What We Like
  • No free tier but a 90-day free trial of all features.

  • 50 million songs and music videos.

  • Offline listening.

What We Don't Like
  • Requires a subscription after 90 days.

  • Music is DRM. You can't keep it after you cancel a subscription.

  • The interface is confusing.

The Music app comes pre-loaded on every iPhone. You can unlock its power by using the Apple Music streaming music service.

Apple Music delivers virtually the entire iTunes Store to your computer and iPhone for $10 a month (or $15 for families of up to six). A 30-day free trial lets you try it out before you sign up. Save songs for offline listening, create and share playlists, follow artists, and more.

The service includes a Radio service, featuring the Beats 1 station. Beats 1 is an always-on, worldwide streaming radio station programmed by top DJs, musicians, and tastemakers. Besides Beats 1, Radio includes a Pandora-style music service that builds playlists based on the songs or artists you like.

Apple Music offers all the features you could want in a streaming app, and it's right on your phone.

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YouTube Music

YouTube Music iPhone app
What We Like
  • Recommendation algorithm learns your preferences.

  • Simple user interface.

  • Includes YouTube music videos and other music features.

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks some advanced features.

  • Confusing pricing structure.

  • The sound quality could be better.

While most people think of it as a video site, YouTube is one of the most popular places for listening to music online. Think of all the music videos and full albums you find on the site. Playing some of those songs and videos is counted towards the Billboard sales charts.

YouTube Music lets you start with a song or video you choose and creates stations and playlists based on that song. Like other apps on this list, stations learn your taste over time to serve up more music you'll like.

Upgrade by subscribing to YouTube Premium for $12.99 per month to remove ads from the app, download songs and videos for offline playback, and play music when your phone's screen is locked.

Google Play Music is being phased out in favor of YouTube Music, and will likely go away at the end of 2020. The company is making it easy to transfer playlists and music from Google Play Music to YouTube Music.

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TuneIn

TuneIn iPhone app
What We Like
  • Live radio from around the world.

  • Thousands of radio stations grouped by location and genre.

  • Premium account includes NFL games, other sports, and audiobooks.

What We Don't Like
  • A subscription is required to remove ads.

  • Can't create on-demand stations.

  • The audio quality of live broadcasts varies.

With a name like TuneIn Radio, you might think this app is focused on free radio. There's a lot of radio available in TuneIn, but there's much more.

The app delivers streams of over 100,000 radio stations that offer music, news, talk, and sports. Included on those streams are some NFL and NBA games, as well as the MLB playoffs. Also available for free in the app is a giant podcast library.

Sign up for the TuneIn Premium service—$9.99 per month as an in-app purchase or $7.99 per month directly from TuneIn—and you'll get a lot more. Included in Premium are more live sports, over 600 commercial-free music stations, over 60,000 audiobooks, and 16 language-learning programs. And it removes ads (though not necessarily from the radio streams).

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Amazon Music

Amazon music iPhone app
What We Like
  • Ad-free and included with an Amazon Prime membership.

  • Most songs display lyrics as the songs play.

  • Accessible through Alexa.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited music library.

  • No longer allows users to upload their music files.

  • Can't create a station.

Lots of people use Amazon Prime, but the Amazon Music service is probably less well known. If you subscribe to Prime, there's a lot in the Amazon Music app to check out.

Amazon Prime Music lets you stream a catalog of over 2 million songs, playlists, and radio stations. The service is ad-free and included in your Prime subscription. Plus, you can sign up for a family plan with six users.

The music you bought from Amazon—both as MP3 downloads and, in some cases, as physical media—is available for streaming and download.

Upgrade to a full-fledged streaming service by subscribing to Amazon Music Unlimited. The $9.99 a month service ($7.99 a month for Prime members) gives you access to tens of millions of songs, playlists, and radio stations. It also lets you download songs for offline listening.

All users of the Amazon Music app get a cool, free bonus: Alexa. The Amazon voice-driven digital assistant, which powers its line of Echo devices, is integrated into the app and delivers all of the Alexa features and abilities to your phone.

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SoundCloud

SoundCloud iPhone app
What We Like
  • Great way to discover independent artists.

  • Upload and promote your audio files.

  • Scrub to move back and forth in songs.

What We Don't Like
  • Library holds more new music than current hits.

  • Non-skippable ads in the free version.

  • The interface doesn't compare favorably with the desktop version.

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 creations with the world.

The app doesn't allow for uploads—the SoundCloud Pulse app covers that. However, it offers access to all that music and the site's other features, including the discovery of new artists and social networking.

The free version of SoundCloud lets you access 120 million tracks and create playlists. The $5.99 per month SoundCloud Go tier adds offline listening and removes ads. Upgrade to SoundCloud Go+, which costs $12.99 a month, to unlock access to over 30 million additional songs.

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Uforia

Uforia Music iPhone app
What We Like
  • Available in English and Spanish.

  • Stations are categorized by mood.

  • Great selection of Latin music and radio stations.

What We Don't Like
  • Music is interrupted by advertisements.

  • Some stabilization problems and may lose an internet connection.

All the apps on this list include all sorts of genres of music, including Latin music. If that's your primary interest, and you want to dig deep into it, download Uforia Musica.

The app, which can display text in English and Spanish, offers access to over 65 Latin radio stations as they broadcast live. There are also streaming-only stations that are exclusive to Uforia. Discover these channels by city, genre, and language, and locate playlists to match your moods and activities.

Cool features include saving your favorite station for easy access later and a car mode that presents the key features of the app in a larger format for easy access while driving. Unlike many other apps on this list, all features are available for free; there are no upgrades.

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Spinrilla

Spinrilla iPhone app
What We Like
  • Focus on hip-hop artists and music.

  • Notifications when favorites drop new music.

  • Over 1 million songs in more than 100,000 mixtapes.

What We Don't Like
  • Great tracks are outnumbered by not-so-great tracks.

  • The free version contains intrusive advertisements.

Streaming the official major-label releases from record companies on services like Apple Music or Spotify is great. Still, it's not the only place where new music debuts. If you're into hip-hop, you know that there are tons of great mixtapes that come out before official albums are released.

Spinrilla is your way to access those mixtapes without searching your local record shops and street corners. This free app delivers new releases and trending songs, lets you comment on music, share it, and download songs for offline playback.

The free version of the app includes ads. Upgrading to a Pro membership to remove those ads from the experience is a bargain at $0.99 per month.

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8tracks Radio

8Tracks iPhone app
What We Like
  • More than 3 million playlists for every artist, genre, or mood.

  • Social element based on a shared love of music.

  • Unlimited ad-supported free listening.

What We Don't Like
  • No trending section.

  • Lacks the function to make custom playlists.

8tracks Radio delivers millions of user-created playlists and handcrafted playlists by experts and sponsors for every taste, activity, and mood. Provide the app with basic info about the kind of music you want to listen to or what you're doing, and it serves up a set of matching playlists.

The free version of the app delivers all the core features, including creating and sharing playlists and listening to those made by others. However, it has ads.

8tracks Plus, the paid version, removes ads, delivers unlimited listening, cuts out interruptions between playlists, and lets you illustrate your playlists with GIFs. Plus is free for the first 14 days, then it costs $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year for a subscription.

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LiveXLive

Slacker Radio iPhone app
What We Like
  • High-quality, curated music programming.

  • Personalized recommendations.

  • Fun, DJ-driven shows.

What We Don't Like
  • The ad-supported free plan is limited to six skips per hour.

  • No lyrics or videos.

  • No family plan.

LiveXLive, formerly Slacker Radio, is a free 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 and fine-tune those stations to match your tastes. In the free version, you need to listen to ads and are limited to skipping six songs per hour.

The paid tiers of the service offer more features. The $3.99 per month Plus version removes ads and skip limits, lets you listen to stations offline, customize ESPN Radio, and enjoy high-quality 320 Kbps streaming.

At $9.99 per month, the Premium subscription delivers the already-mentioned features, plus the ability to stream songs and albums on demand like Apple Music or Spotify, offline listening of that music, and the ability to create playlists.