Best streaming music apps for iPhone: Songza, Spotify, Rdio, and more!

Best streaming music apps for iPhone: Songza, Spotify, Rdio, and more!

The best streaming music apps for iPhone, whether you need huge collections, offline access, or international reach. Can't stop the signal!

Looking for the best iPhone apps to stream all the songs you want to listen to? While Apple offers their own music streaming, iTunes Radio, there are lots of other options in the App Store that are just as worthy of your attention. From downloading and listening to tracks offline to serving up up the perfect playlists for your next party or event, there really is something for everyone. But which streaming music apps for iPhone are the absolute best?

Note: Availability and sometimes catalog size and feature sets vary greatly by location. The U.S. has the most services available, other countries only a few or none.

Spotify

Best streaming music apps for iPhone: Songza, Spotify, Rdio, and more!

If you aren't the "mixed bucket of tracks" kind of girl or boy and know exactly what you like, Spotify lets you create just exactly the type of experience you want from their library of over 25 million songs. It's one of the largest, if not the largest of any streaming music service currently available. Spotify has also managed to ink lots of exclusive deals which means you may not find some content anywhere else. Free users get unlimited, ad supported radio style streaming which includes playing any album or artist's collection — on shuffle of course. Premium subscribers get completely on-demand streaming as well as the ability to download tracks for offline listening. Spotify streams at up to 320 kbps as well which means better audio quality than some of the competing services.

For great audio quality, reliable streaming, and a huge library with many exclusives that the competition just can't match, get Spotify.

Rdio

Best streaming music apps for iPhone: Rdio

Rdio current houses about 20 million songs and offers many of the same features Spotify boasts. When it comes to app design, it's hard to beat Rdio's beautifully designed suite of apps for both iPhone and iPad. Rdio also offers radio style streaming for free through all their apps and online. Premium subscribers get offline downloads and on-demand streaming. One thing to note is that while Spotify and many other services limit how many offline tracks you can save between devices — typically around 10 to 20,000 — Rdio does not. If you have the storage capacity, you can store them. Rdio currently streams at around 192 kbps but has announced they'll be updating their catalog to 320 kbps in the very near future.

If using aesthetically pleasing apps is important to you, you won't find a better music streaming experience than Rdio.

Songza

Best streaming music apps for iPhone: Songza

Songza is your personal music concierge. Select the type of music you want to listen to or tell Songza what you're doing and it will give you music suited for just that occasion. The playlists inside Songza are curated by industry experts and DJs. You can even match Songza to the exact headphones you're wearing for optimal song quality. The free version of Songza is ad supported. If you'd like to remove ads and get premium content, you can join Club Songza for $3.99 a month via in-app purchase. Since Songza is a radio streaming service, there is no offline saving and on-demand listening. But since the curation aspect is so great, you don't really need it.

If you are less concerned with saving music and just want to hit play and walk away for hours, Songza doesn't disappoint.

Pandora

Best streaming music apps for iPhone: Pandora

Pandora is also a radio streaming service and while it's library is relatively small compared to the other guys — only around 1 million songs — it still has a great selection of music. What I've always found appealing about Pandora is the quality of the artist stations. I can pick an artist and start a station based on them and Pandora does a great job selecting tracks. A lot of services throw in tracks that really don't belong which ruins the curation aspect in my opinion. You can stream with ads for free or subscribe to Pandora One for $4.99 a month via in-app purchase for no ads, better audio quality, and a desktop app.

Beats Music

Best streaming music apps for iPhone: Beats Music

Beats Music is the new kid on the block but don't be fooled as it's quickly becoming one of the very best at music curation and discovery. Aside from offline listening and on-demand playback, the real killer feature of Beats Music are the playlists. The more you listen, the more the service can recommend and in my experience, I've discovered more great music with the Beats than I have with any other two services combined. Recommendations are typically spot on and so are the featured playlists. There is no free tier for Beats Music and you'll need to pay $9.99 a month as an individual or AT&T users can sign up as a family and pay $14.99 a month for 5 users.

If music discovery is your number one concern, you have to give Beats Music a try.

Slacker

Best streaming music apps for iPhone: Slacker

Slacker brings to the table a library of 13 million songs, with a nice selection of indie artists. Premium Slacker subscribers can also save their favorite playlists for offline playback. If you're a sports fan, Slacker offers many sports stations including ESPN and covers many events that other streaming services don't. There are also comedy stations and talks shows aplenty. Subscriptions start at $3.99 a month and go up from there.

If you're a sports fan or like having a great selection of talk shows and news stations, you want Slacker.

Your pick for best streaming music apps for iPhone?

Music is a personal preference so we know selecting a streaming music app is too. What service are you currently using and why did you choose it over the others? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

Note: Originally published August 17, 2013. Updated on May 12, 2014 to reflect new apps and features.

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Best streaming music apps for iPhone: Songza, Spotify, Rdio, and more!

64 Comments

I like Rdio the best. Used Spotify for a long time, but the thing I hated about Spotify is that everything had to be a playlist. I just wanted to add artists to a collection, I don't want 100 playlist of albums, drove me crazy. Rdio allows me to have a collection of artists, playlists for mixes, and saved radio stations. Plus I can actually search for playlists on my mobile and not just on the desktop like Spotify. Plus, Spotify's mobile UI looksl ancient.

But it just comes down to preference and Rdio works best for me.

I use Songza when I want a mix and always used Spotify for everything else. Until I tried rdio. The interface is amazing. Think I'll be ditching Spotify for it myself.

I tried Rdio and it was pretty cool, but I've been a Spotify user since day one in the US. I might give it a whirl since everyone seems to love it.

I use Rhapsody. Here's an example why:

Download an album not already in your library for offline listening on an iPad:
Rhapsody – 1 tap
Spotify – 8 taps

iTunes radio will likely be a "mainstream" alternative that is well done but might lack some advanced features.

It does seem odd, though, to see a review of streaming music apps *right before* Apple launches their own.

Rdio & Songza for me. Rdio is $10 well spent every month for unlimited access to a huge collection of music. Plus the app design is beautiful, it'll feel right at home in ios7. When I don't know what I want to listen to and the Rdio stations aren't doing it for me, Songza is a great backup. Streaming FTW!!

Agreed! these two apps are also my favorites and I use TuneIn when I need to listen to a specific radio station. Something that wasn't mentioned in the review about Rdio besides its very nice, smooth UI is the "remote" feature that NON of the others have. Being able to pick up on my iPhone exactly where I left on my computer or iPad, or even control with any of them what sounds in the other if maybe it's plugged charging or connected to a stereo system, is priceless. Here in Latin America only Rdio (and Deezer) are available that's also a 10

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I use Pandora when I'm not in the mood to really get specific with an Artist or Album. Otherwise I stream my own music collection using Subsonic. Might be a good topic for another post. ;-)

Just to throw this out there, I've been using the Cloud Play app to pull music from my Google All Access subscription instead of Google's web app. I've tried a couple of different apps, but Cloud Play's been working nicely. I think it's missing things like playlist support and a couple of other things, but for using it to plug into All Access is pretty clean.

8tracks has become my go to! Something about knowing that person selected all of the playlists just makes the music that much better in my opinion

Rdio gives me millions of tracks in Canada. Spotify gives me 0 tracks in Canada.

Therefore, Rdio utterly leaves Spotify in the dust.

I recently discovered Raditaz. Its free and it works great on my ipod touch (4th gen). Commercial-free, user-friendly interface & no rerun songs. There are options to log in to facebook or other social media to set up custom radio stations, but for the most part the app works just fine right out of the box without any kind of log-in info.

Never really cared for Pandora, love Songza ! It's my go to when I'm too lazy to pick my own music.

Top pick for me is Rhapsody. A little pricier but I've been using for years way before it went mobile and no complaints. New artist and old. Love me some Earth,Wind and Fire. Do I get a witness.

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I loved Raditaz, but they just went down for upgrades and they are not saying when they will be back. I'm pretty bummed - I use that app daily.

"Ourtunez" for the iPhone and iPad is a new one that just came out. I had a Pandora account before and just got sick of it being to repetitive. "Ourtunez" is a way better option

I'm biased but Spotify wins hands down. We built an app powered by Spotify's music that plays what you like on launch and connects your friends to listen and chat together. Watch the video at http://trending.fm

I just dumped Spotify for Rdio. Rdio's UI just works better for me, but the most important feature for me is offline listening. Spotify has offline listening but once you sync it, its stuck on your phone forever even after you unselect the offline listening toggle. Rdio will delete the music immediately if I deselect offline listening. So having more control of my storage space is where Rdio stands out as the winner.

What you stated about Pandora is so true. Other services will play music that has nothing to do with the artist you pick. Some days Pandora can be off, but just thumbs down, and it quickly learns what you like, and is closer to the artist.

Love Slacker, especially for the offline caching so you can play stations without any network connection. Also a Songzaa fan.

Slacker is awesome. Refreshing stations is better than the updates to playlists on Spotify. Slacker also has great comedy channels the others don't have.

+2 for Slacker. Tried them all, keep coming back to Slacker. Not sure why they don't get as much pub or visibility as the others, but for me, Slacker wins hands down.

People simply hate to pay for music. We've come full-circle:

Cassette tape piracy -> CD piracy -> MP3 piracy -> iTunes -> Streaming.

I think your cycle probably would have made more sense if it started with broadcast radio. It's essentially what we're back to. Free music paid for by advertisements.

I've been using Xbox Music only because they gave me two years free. It's adequate and does everything Spotify does

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The difference is there's no free streaming radio on mobile. They only do that on Windows 8. I believe that's why Xbox Music isn't included in the roundup.

Rdio: I like it a lot, but I can't stand the "heavy rotation" default on the main screen drives me crazy. I don't want it there but there is no way to take it off.

Slacker: Love it, but no Mac app means no choice for me.

So that leaves Spotify and iTunes Radio. I like them both.

Tried Spotify but when I read how offline tracks are handled by another user on your other Spotify article Ally I went straight back to Rdio and so glad I did. I've missed it so LOL. I almost stuck with Spotify cause I didn't know how to shuffle my entire collection on Rdio but read that there is a station to do so. Plus I still think Rdio is a sleeker looking app and the way they organize your collection like iTunes is way better.

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Although Rdio is my favourite (specially due to its remote feature that non of the others have) I;ve used spotify and now on beats trial. I've always wondered why Deezer is not included in these lists Ally, their latest iphone app update improved A LOT, quite good UI, responsive, ios7-like with an excellent library, that would make this list complete IMO.

Oh, small detail...I thought it already was. Thanks! they have done a good job in Europe and latin america, many carriers offer their users not only a trial (like beats) but the full premium service at no extra charge, just because they are on contract.

Last I heard they're still planning on bringing sneezer to America. That was in January, though. So I don't know if they're still on track for that. Frankly, I'd rather we start having less music streaming services than more. We're a bit in danger if over saturation. Hoping a few drop if or merge just so we get some focus.

I use Google Play All Access.
Still prefer Pandora's music discovery but I love the on-demand aspect of All Access.
Sure Spotify has a better library but I locked in All Access at the $7.99 price.
All Access is getting better about discovery.

I use both Spotify and Beats. If Apple does buy Beats it will be interesting to see how they incorporate it.

I prefer pandora for when I don't know what to listen to, and Beats Music for creating custom playlists.

I doubt Pandora has only 1 million songs like they advertise. My guess would be they have a lot more than just 1 million. Their playback algorithm works best for me and there's hardly any repeats and there's always something new to listen to. Being locked into the old,
$3.99 rate for Pandora One makes
It a keeper.

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I use Pandora but I don't like the repeats, I have found a way to skip the Ads on Pandora, I use the free app so when an ad starts just hit the home button twice and swipe up the app and hit the Pandora button again it quickly restarts and goes back to the music, HA hate the Ads!!, but I am going to try Rdio everybody on here gives it great comments.

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How do all these compare to Google Play Music All Access. Now that it is available in Canada, looking to possibly switch from RDIO. The locker service with streaming really appeals to me since some artists are not any streaming service.

Glad to see Slacker on the list. I've been a long time user and highly recommend it. I've had and given it up only for SiriusXM because of vehicles I've had with Sirius. I always come back to Slacker because most stations match with SiriusXM's, its less expensive, and I can use it in all of our vehicles at any time. I pay the $3.99 month to get access to downloaded content and save my data because I listen A LOT! I've tried Spotify and Pandora but they've never meshed with my usage. I'll be interested to see what happens with Beats if Apple makes the deal.