Top Android Music Apps

Do you have a Droid and want to listen to music? You can listen to music on your Android phone or tablet, and you can even take your iTunes collection along for the ride. Here are five great music appss. Some cost money, and some don't, but there's a solution here for all Android fans. 

1
Spotify

Spotify on a tablet.
Spotify on a tablet without premium membership. Screen capture.

Spotify is an all-you-can-eat buffet of music. It's been available in Europe for quite some time and has only recently made its way to the US. Spotify has a vast catalog of music available, and you can share your playlists with other users to get ideas about new music. Rather than mainly a discovery app, Spotify is an app for people who know what they want to hear and don't want to wait to download it. However, Spotify also offers mood-based playlists and suggestions for times when you don't know what you want to hear. 

Spotify also scans your existing collection from iTunes or any other folder and replicates your playlists without having to upload them. 

Pricing:

Spotify offers a free, ad-sponsored version and subscription plans. The free version requires internet access and is available only through streaming. 

The basic premium service for Spotify is $9.99 per month, although they also offer student and family sharing plans. 

Disadvantages:

Spotify is more expensive than a streaming Netflix account. If you don't buy more than an album every other month, you're not saving money, and some may question whether it lives up to all the hype. Spotify songs only play for as long as you're renting them, so if you decide to cancel the account, you've cancelled all your songs.  

Spotify works very well on a variety of devices if you're willing to pay for it. The offline playlists allow it to bridge the difference between streaming services and local players.

Full disclosure: Spotify provided me with a one-month trial membership for review purposes.  

2
Pandora

Pandora logo
Pandora Media, Inc.

Pandora is a streaming Internet-based radio service that creates radio stations around a song or group that you already like. While you can't pick the individual tunes, you can rate the music with a thumbs up or down to better train Pandora to find music you enjoy. You can also shuffle all of your playlists to create a ​radio station that caters to a wider variety of music you like. 

Pricing:

Pandora is free for an ad-supported account. Every once in a while your listening will be interrupted by an ad, and you're limited in how long you can stream and how many unwanted choices you can skip. 

Pandora One accounts run $4.99 per month with discounts for buying a year in advance. You get an ad-free listening experience, you can skip songs you don't like, and you're not limited in how long you can listen. (You will be prompted every five hours to indicate that you're still listening.) You also get higher quality audio streaming. Of the paid music accounts, Pandora's pricing is the most reasonable. 

Disadvantages:

Pandora is a streaming only service, so you can't listen when you're out of Internet or phone range, and sometimes it gets spotty if you're on the road. It may also cost a pretty penny if you don't have an unlimited data plan. You also can't pick and choose which song plays next, although you can purchase a song (to play on a separate player.) Pandora doesn't do anything with the songs you already own.

Pandora works best for people who generally stay within Wi-Fi range and want to listen to a variety of music. 

3
Google Play Music

Google Music Beta on a Xoom
Google Music Beta on a Xoom. Screen Capture

Play music offers both a storage locker for music you have purchased and a subscription service to listen to songs and playlists that are not within your purchased library. 

Google Music streams music from online, but it also downloads your most frequently played songs, so you're not totally without music on an airplane trip. They also offer free sample tracks. If you use the free version of Google Music, you can only download music you own. Any playlists Google suggests from outside of your library will be streaming-only. 

Pricing:

Google Play Music's subscription service is $9.99 per month, just like Spotify, and this includes upgraded song storage as well as unlimited streaming and playlists. 

  

4
Amazon MP3 Player / Amazon Cloud Player

Amazon Cloud Player
Amazon Cloud Player. Screen Capture

Amazon offers a free online storage service called Amazon Cloud Drive, and you can play music files you've stored there using Amazon Cloud Player. It's similar to Google Music, only with a worse interface and better shopping experience. You can upload your files from your iTunes account or other music folder, just as you can with Google Music, and any songs you purchase from Amazon.com can be transferred directly to the Cloud Player or downloaded back to your machine.

In addition, Amazon offers a Spotify-like all-you-can-eat subscription service through Amazon Prime. 

Pricing:

The first 5 gigs are free to anyone with an Amazon.com account. After that, Amazon will charge for storage. You pay individually for any songs you purchase through Amazon.com, but you're not limited to only using their service to purchase music. 

On top of free options, Amazon Prime membership (around $99 per year) buys you Prime Music features. Fire tablets and other Amazon services may also fold in Prime Music without an additional subscription fee.