Short description of the article

  • Intro

  • Monetization strategies for music apps

  • Core features of the leading music apps:

    • Spotify

    • Pandora

    • TuneIn

    • SoundCloud

    • iHeartRadio

  • What are the essential tips for development of a successful music app?

  • Conclusion


If developing a music app you should know some important things that might be useful in case you would like to foster competitiveness of your app. In this article, we’ll take a look at features of the 5 most popular music apps - Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, SoundCloud, and TuneIn and give some pieces of advice based on their success.

In the present days, the music app industry is growing each year and has already accounted for over half of all income generated by the music industry in the last years.

It has become very difficult to create a highly competitive music app and to come to the top because of this great offer. On the other hand, according to Statista, the revenue and the demand for the quality music streaming apps are growing, as well. Look at the statistic according to which the number of users will increase steadily in the coming years.


There are top music apps which have already succeeded and are being downloaded by many users all over the world.

We want to research the core features of the leading music apps - Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, SoundCloud, and TuneIn and using their example to find out how they managed to foster their competitiveness. Taking their core features into account will promote creating your competitive music app.

The product owners realize the new product should be different from the others, arouse interest in the users and encourage them to download your music app. But how to achieve it? What steps to take and what to bear in mind?

Monetization strategies for music apps


The monetization should be considered before developing an app. It’s too late to decide upon the monetization when the music app is ready. Remember to think of it at the very beginning and decide about the strategy. It might include ads or a division into a free and a paid version. Some music apps offer a paid version without ads. You can offer additional paid features which make your music app more customizable and attractive.

In Spotify users can easily find and listen to the songs in the extensive database, but the free version is limited. If you want to get the unlimited access you’ll have to pay for it. Then you would get an ability to save music. It uses a free and paid version, and after having paid you would be able to save tracks and to get the unlimited access to the songs.

Many apps have 2-3 options: one free version and 1-2 premiums. You can go the way SoundCloud and iHeartRadio chose: offer a free trial. Your users don’t know how comfortable and attractive the paid features are unless they didn’t test the app before. Users can hardly renounce the comforts they got used to, so consider offering a free trial of your music app’s premium version.

TuneIn offers the users to enjoy the free version with some ads or choose the premium version that lets you listen to music without ads.

Pandora also monetizes with a premium version. The last one allows to use Pandora radio and make own playlists, to listen to music without ads and much more benefits. There is an option of Pandora premium family which lets the customers buy one premium for the whole family consisting up to 6 members. And the free trial helps to estimate all the benefits of the paid version. Think of such a system where one user invites other users/ family members and all of them get some benefits. It would increase the number of users significantly.

Also read our article: How to monetize your mobile app: best choice for successful startups

Core features of the leading music apps



Spotify is a music streaming platform.

Initial release - 7 October 2008
Written in primarily Python, with some Java, C, and C++ components

  • Spotify is one of the leading music streaming apps with many features and a large database: it attracts users all over the world.

  • 10 years ago it was the first music app which offered access to the most of the music all over the world. And exactly it has become Spotify’s core feature.

  • Another important feature is using the API of the Echo Nest for users to sign in. This technology is a music intelligence platform which saves users’ time, helps to get their metadata, to find out about their behavior, to understand the musical taste of the customers basing on their previous choice and to personalize their playlists.



Pandor is both a music streaming and an internet radio service.

Founded in January 2000
Written in Java

Pandora uses the Music Genome Project and it analyses music in a totally different way. Traits present in the tracks are analysed and then the analysis offers songs with similar tunes to the user. This feature is totally specific and unusual but sometimes users miss the opportunity to learn their friends’ preferences.



TuneIn is a a radio music streaming service.

Founded in January 2002

  • Users who usually listen to the radio live news, sports updates, podcasts, as well as music are pleased with this service. With it they can listen to the radio everywhere and create their own lists of preferred radio stations.

  • Besides, the users are offered about 120,000 radio stations and this station is available in 22 countries and is translated into many languages.

  • When entering a track or a band you would find radio stations in your country that are playing them. But you wouldn’t find a specific song because TuneIn is just a radio service, it doesn’t offer music player functions. If you ask yourself why TuneIn didn’t add more functions such as adding separate songs, remember: "You know you've achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away".



SoundCloud is a music and podcast streaming platform.

Founded in August 2007
Written in Ruby and Scala

  • When one user or artist publishes on SoundCloud he makes possible to download his work through the official SoundCloud app. SoundCloud uses not only RSS for disseminating podcasts and the users can connect directly with the others, interact with them on SC. The additional benefit is that such an approach solves Google podcast app problem which appears again and again.

  • As it was mentioned above artists can upload and host their songs. So this platform additionally attracts beginning musicians, independent bands and artists.



iHeartRadio is a radio app.

Founded in April 2008

It was developed with many technologies such as Scala, Python, AWS, Kubernetes, Docker, ElasticSearch, MongoDB, Hadoop, ELK, Node.JS, React.JS, Swift.iHeartRadio is one of the best representatives of radio apps.

  • And the first of its pros is - it supports a lot of devices.

  • You can both listen to the radio over the internet, save stations and songs and make your own commercial-free custom station. Many users consider it a great advantage: you can listen to the songs without being interrupted by ads.

  • One of its benefits is no need to create the account for listening to music.

What are the essential tips for development of a successful music app?


  • Decide who is your app for? For users, musicians, for bands or for all of them? Before building your own music app you should research the market and define your target audience. Learn about the advantages of your competitors and find out what problems in present music apps the users have found. Read the reviews of leading music apps in the forums and think about how to solve existing problems. In drawbacks of other apps, you should find the possibilities for the development of your music app.

  • You should invent 1-2 unique features (core features) which make your app different from the others. Check if the music app with such features attracts people: develop an MVP and bring it to the masses. If this idea seems interesting to users you would make the further strategy.

Also read our article How to create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product): your Step-by-Step Guide.

  • The music app should find its specific niche otherwise it’s about to fail after the release. There should be nothing redundant in the music app. If it is overcrowded with all possible features from all music apps the users just get confused but don’t expect them to be interested in such an app.

  • You should always be aware of what the users dislike and consider removing annoying things from your app. For example, in the world of pushy ads, the app without boring commercials is a good find.

  • Of course, developing a music app for multiple platforms seems appealing. But if you want your app to be available on many devices, you would need a lot of money for investment and find many skilled developers. Or you should start with a limited number of platforms. When talking about mobile devices, our advice is to begin with the cross-platform mobile development: it would reduce costs and save time compared with the native app development.

  • Make a note of such a feature as using API of the Echo Nest and social networks’ API for users to sign in. In this way the app can get information about the users, their preferences, learn what they like and dislike. The tracks and artists would appear based on the users’ personal experience. Besides, the users save time while signing in.

Also read our article How much does it cost to create an app like Spotify where we counted costs for both native and cross-platform development for an app like Spotify


If you are about to develop a music app you should consider some things, e.g. on which server the music app should be hosted. Another important thing to consider is where to store data - on the server (we don’t recommend this option for several reasons) or choose the cloud storage service (last time developing an app we chose AWS S3). Remember to create the database architecture with proper relationships. The architecture of the powerful database should provide such relationships between database tables that the app offers quick responses. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay too much for hosting to speed up your app.

Of course, all the technical nuances could be hardly mentioned in one article but we have the good news for you: our team would be happy to explain all the technical nuances to you, and if you want, write us to make your competitive app.