How Do You Stream Music on Your iPhone?

Quicktime streaming iPhone

Outside storing music in the iPhone's built in iPod app, there are a variety of ways to simply stream the audio you want to listen to:

  • Streaming internet radio/subscription apps are the obvious place to start. Slacker [iTunes link], Pandora [iTunes link], Pocket Tunes [iTunes link], Spotify [iTunes link]... the list goes on an on. Some are limited to the US (or just slightly beyond the US) or Europe, but those who have them in their area often swear by them. Some of these also provide local storage so you can keep some of the songs on your device for those occasions when a Wi-Fi or 3G isn't available.
  • Musical games, spearheaded by Tap Tap Revenge [iTunes link] and Rock Band have shown that users are just as willing -- sometimes even more willing -- to buy songs for sport as they are for simple enjoyment. With in-app purchases, some of these games have even become music stores unto themselves.
  • Musical apps, where an artist or group wants to create something more than just a song file or even iTunes LP, have also become fairly common on the App Store. These can range significantly in content and presentation, but they can and do bring the music.
  • Storage apps, like MobileMe iDisk,, DropBox, etc. can give you access to the music you keep on the cloud. Just like they can view your documents and other files, they can typically play any supported audio format you've loaded them up with.
  • Mobile Safari, the iPhone and iPod touch (and soon, iPad) web browser can play any music format Apple supports. Just tap on a link and the Quicktime player pops up, buffers, and plays your audio. This includes audio you've stored on your own web-enabled server setups. And it's one of the few apps that's allowed to keep playing in the background -- when it doesn't run out of RAM or lose connection or otherwise glitch-out.
  • iTunes app, while it will only give you 30 seconds of music for sampling, will stream full-length podcasts if you tap on the title instead of the download button. If you prefer talking and creative commons to the latest premium hits, it's a surprisingly useful option. And it will play in the background just like Safari (and potentially fail, just like Safari).

We're all hoping iPhone 4.0 addresses that pesky "no streaming internet music while using other apps" multitasking miss we've suffered through lo these last 3 years, but in the meantime -- what are you using to stream your music on your iPhone? Any tips and or tricks you can share?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter,, Google+.

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There are 54 comments. Add yours.

Chris says:

iTunes whenever I want to hear a song I just buy it already have 2000 songs & counting.....

blatz says:

PlugPlayer that is a real streaming client that uses a local server.
i prefer to hear my own music, not radio or other shallow stuff

Jim says:

I use Dtunes. Your iPhone has to be jailbroken to use dtunes, in my opinion iPhone is pretty useless unless it's Jailbroken, then you can download install multitask to your hearts content making the phone incredibly agile... I can stream from zshare mediafire megaupload I can even torrent in movie files over 3GS or local wireless
why put your future and enjoyment of technology entirely in Apple hands when the iPhone is so obviously geared towards Apple money making ploys. Ps legitimately I use Wunderradio and Last FM

Adam says:

OrbLive is an app store app for $9.99 that let's you share Audio/Video/Pictures/Live TV with your iPhone. I've never gotten the TV to work right but here's the best part. You can use the audio streaming for FREE in Safari. Download Orb onto your desktop, make an account then use Mobile Safari to go to and you can log in and all of the music you are sharing is available anywhere on EDGE/3G/WiFi for FREE, even if you don't buy the app.

Bill says:

I have a Synology Disk Station that I have all my music stored on. They make an iPhone App called DS Audio (free). It gives me streaming access to my entire library over 3G/Edge/WiFi

bjs says:

I use Simplify Music to stream my own music from my home server, WunderRadio/iheartradio to listen to just about any and every FM/AM radio station I would want to listen to, and Pandora to discover new music.
It's the music streaming trifecta.

jordandev says:

Another vote for Simplify Music. It takes your iTunes library and lets you stream all of it to your phone. So simple and works great. OrbLive is also very similar and I use that sometimes but I use it more for video as it doesn't work quite as well for music as Simplify Music.
I also switch between a couple different apps for internet radio. WunderRadio, ooTunes, and TuneIn Radio.
I also use the new jailbreak Grooveshark app. It's awesome if you use the desktop or web version of Grooveshark too.
Then of course for all of these apps I use Backgrounder so I can multitask and Music Controls so I can change songs, etc right from the status bar instead of having to open it up.

Tim says:

I used to use SimplifyMedia, but now that they are discontinuing service I guess I'll have to find something else...

websyndicate says:

use to use Simplify Media but I use orb now. SM was much better. I do have a premium slacker account, pandora account, and XM Sirius account. Love them all

mikenyc2 says:

How can you possibly talk about streaming music without mentioning Simplify????
Shame on you. It is the first software on the iPhone where you can stream your own playlist from your home server. All my music (oh about 100 Gb) is sitting on my pc at home. I just stream my music to my iPhone.
Best app out there for music listening.
Shame on you for not mentioning it.

jtz5 says:

For those mentioning Simplify, do you know if I could stream music to my iPhone from my Apple Time Capsule (instead of my MacBook)? Thanks.

GinoDotCom says:

If you're jailbroken, music controls is a must. It's not a radio app, it's a full out radio controller app!!
I love being able to control and skip songs right from my headphone controller...Or my radio dock. just as if the song was playing through the iPod app.

Memnautikus says:

Wunderradio is the best. And coast to coast am.

francolasalsa#IM says:

Slacker Radio , actually canceled my Sirius subscription because of it . So long past ,hello future !

tora says:

Shoutcast App and LastFM App ;D
Other than those I use the iPod on my iPhone.

GinoDotCom says:

If anyone who's into streaming music and doesn't know what Music Controls on the cydia store does, you're missing a huge functionality of your beloved iPhone/iPod touch.
Seriously... Look it up.

Rene Ritchie says:

We didn't mention Simplify because it's no longer available :(

dloveprod says:

I like dropbox and zumodrive

sommerface says:

I like AOL Radio (when it works) and WunderRadio for my music streaming.

Unchew says:

Pandora for me but I don't stream much

Johnny9Toes says:

pesky “no streaming internet music while using other apps” multitasking...
Untrue. Its easy to get the url of the streaming site and start the stream in safari, then move on to another app. Note: some apps may stop any streams or ipod playing due imbedded music or sounds.

hypno5ive says:

Both ooTunes and Subsonic have media streaming servers and apps that essentially do the same thing as SimplifyMedia. It is however time that Apple build this into their next release of iTunes.

Ifuhateit says:

What i go to downloadin site n click download. Instead of downloadin it plays song. This is how i do.

xCRYTONx says:

how about a little icecast or a local weblink to an m3u on your network.....

Michael says:

If I'm not listening to something from my own collection I am using or Sirius. They both work on 3G and give me access to music I don't normally have.

macharborguy says:

you can also stream some ShoutCast/IceCast radio stations from within Mobile Safari itself. Example:

Roger says:

Wolfgang's Vault. I can't believe it's free!

Homebase says:

Pocket Tunes $6.99 at the iTunes store. Plays many stations in the background (except for WMA). We like it better than any other Internet stream/radio player out there. And if you can't find a stream link with the built-in database, just email them. The support turn around times are very good. A

sfwrtr says:

The Shoutcast app. This app runs down my battery every day, then I plug in the phone and let it go even more hours.

Nina says:

I use the beta lala app, which apple never approved before it bought lala. It is AWESOME and I am not sure I can ever go back, and I just pray to god apple figures this out before the beta app expires.
What else out there is remotely close to lala except maybe rhapsody?

jtorres.pdx says:

I use simplify to stream my and my friends' libraries over 3g or wifi.
But something cool I discovered today: got an email from a fellow bandmate who wanted me to listen to some rough recordings. I opened the emails on my iPhone, and it let me download the attachment songs and let me listen to them... Very useful! At least for me...

Ray says:

I think FStream is the best radio app, but it requires a little work... and it's free. I use this on my iPhone and MacBook as well. I can stream any station found on the net. I get Radio 1 while getting AOL radio's Indietronica station and local talk radio. I recommend this app for everyone, just not if you're lazy because it requires you to look up stream URLs.

mikenyc2 says:

I didn't even know that Simplify isn't in the app store anymore. I thought I was still getting updates.
What happened?

Joey Love says:

I have used both Orb and Simplify Media to stream my mp3's from home. I still haven't had much luck with Orb, but Simplify has been rock solid for me.

Joey Love says:

Wow - I hadn't heard about Simplify until reading the comments here. At least existing users will be functional for three months. Then what????

Alex says:

thanks joey for Simplify tip, i will try that one too

ApG says:

I'm also using the Lala beta app. I've tried most everything out there, and Lala's app is BY FAR the best. Free streaming of YOUR OWN music/playlists from their servers. No need to keep you computer running at home. Caches your music. Backgrounding on jailbroken iphone. High Quality stream. Always available. Did I mention FREE?
Also, I use Lala instead of iTunes for music discovery now. They do a better job selecting new music I might like based on my listening habits, much better than iTunes does.

H says:

Does anyone know if simplify is planing on coming back to the app store? i cant find it to download on my iphone. i am looking for an app that would allow me to stream my own music from my own itues. no radio or anyone that wants me to upload my music into their server.. thanks for your help

Charles says:

SMB Music. Plays music on any Windows, Linux (samba), or OS X share and some NAS boxes. Also plays m3u playlists and displays folder art. Works best on LANs because of SMB protocol characteristics. See

P1mpett says:

I love Slacker Radio, the others don't even seem to compare. What I want to know is if there is a way to stream out the music playing from my ipod on the phone? My baby is jb so there is no issue there (only way to own 1, they r junk otherwise!)I have Sound Feed, but it only gives a link to the app. It would be so cool if they could actually listen along...

Cam says:

Jukefly is the new simplify media. SM was purchased by google and went android.

Ryan says:

Thanks for mentioning Jukefly. I've been searching for a replacement for Simplify Media for months (man I loved that app) and this appears to be the solution. It still has a few improvements to go, such as better library browsing and shuffle play, but it's a great app as is and now I can finally stream my MP3s on my phone again!

James says:

I started using Kalidity. It has really good support for iOS devices and you don't have to download an app.
I always seem to have issues with Jukefly. It has never worked. I also thought Orb was so clunky. It's terrible for making playlists, and it makes you launch the audio in some other player. Plus the web app didn't work for me on my iPhone half the time.

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jriggs says:

I really like Audiogalaxy - I did I short review here:
Highly recommend!

Doug says:

Another GREAT cheap app is StreamToMe- An app that accesses all your music and videos over wifi. No logins are required and the helper app is a measly 5MB-- compared to some that i have seen that are up to 100MB. Its totally worth it!

LanaLang says:

Do not forget about WiFi2HiFi App: It sends any audio output from PC or MAC to your stereo system, sound-dock orheadphones - the ios devices like the iPhone or the iPod acting as wireless receivers.

JamJockey says:

Give a try! It provides free streaming music to your iPhone, right through your web browser. No app needed!

Guy Lewis says:

An issue I have is how to wifi music from a player embedded into safari. If safari sees an audio file format, like you say, it opens QuickTime. But if the page embedded audio uses HTML 5 then it doesn't pass it to QuickTime, and there doesn't seem to be any wifi audio connection option in safari :-(