Did you know that 82.1 million Americans subscribe to a paid music streaming service? While there are many streaming services available, the most popular by far is Spotify, cornering almost a third of the market. If you could build an application to rival Spotify, chances are, profits would be healthy. But how does one even build a music streaming app like Spotify?
Fortunately, this article is here to guide you through the entire process of building a music streaming app, from understanding the market to the steps involved in development.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Spotify?
Spotify is a digital music streaming service that allows users to listen to an extensive catalog of music on smart devices and computers, but you already know that. However, from a more technical perspective, Spotify is a music streaming service that delivers small amounts of data to users when a song is played to enable pre-buffered tracks that result in undisturbed playback.
What Is a Music Streaming App?
A music streaming application provides on-demand access to songs, albums, and playlists, allowing users to listen to what they want, when they want, unlike traditional radio. Popular streaming apps like Spotify and Apple Musicoffer subscriptions for ad-free listening, downloads for offline play, and personalized recommendations based on users’ tastes, with millions of tracks available across all genres and eras.
Why Create a Music Streaming App?
Here are some reasons why you should build a music streaming app.
New Listening Experience
Launching your own music app essentially lets you shape a novel listening environment. When building one of your own, you are free to focus on uncovered niches or next-generation features like seamless transitions, mood-based playlists, and shareable listening parties. You can craft an interface that foregrounds music discovery and community, ensuring users effortlessly find their new favorite songs.
Target a Niche
Mainstream apps take a one-size-fits-all approach; however, by zeroing in on underserved genres or demographics, you can offer a specialized musical haven. For example, your platform could be dedicated to jazz, metal, children’s music, unsigned artists or other areas often overlooked by big brands. Ultimately, catering to specific tastes can help build loyalty.
In addition to subscription fees, music apps have creative options for monetization such as in-app purchases, targeted advertising, and listener data insights. Your audience’s passion for music is an opportunity–analyze their behavior to offer merch, concerts, song downloads, and other money-making side doors.
Challenges of Building a Music Streaming App
Convenient though it would be, you can’t build a music streaming service without first striking deals with and securing rights from artists and record labels. Here are some important factors to consider regarding licensing.
Perhaps the most important question to ask when building a music streaming app like Spotify is how to go about building a library of music? Unless you have connections with millions of music producers and bands across the world, you’ll need to get in touch with a music aggregation company like Ditto Music or CD Baby. However, this will limit your catalog to independent artists. Contacting a performing rights society such as ASCAP is an excellent start.
When a song is played on a music streaming service, a “recording royalty” is created. This is a fee you must pay to the artist or record label in return for allowing your users to stream their songs. It can be paid through a third-party aggregator or directly to record labels. Generally speaking, a royalty rate is determined by the number of listens a song gets in relation to the number of users on a platform. This means a newer streaming platform with fewer users will pay a higher royalty rate to artists when their songs are played.
Your music streaming platform will also require a mechanism of copyright protection for artists. This could mean building an algorithm that identifies duplicate songs uploaded from people other than the artist or record label who own the track rights. While this will typically be identified by the aggregator, it’s possible that some songs may slip through the cracks.
5 Steps to Developing a Music Streaming App Like Spotify
Now that you have a better grasp on Spotify and the music streaming industry at large, let’s dive into the five key steps to successful music streaming app development.
First, you need to determine your application niché. This means identifying how your app will stand out from competitors and setting your goals accordingly. Will you develop a platform for a specific music genre, for instance, or will your focus be on studio-quality streaming? Because your choices here will later influence your platform’s required functionality, it’s important that your vision is both realistic and achievable.
Once you’ve identified your niché, you may consider employing the use of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals to ensure you have a clear outline of your objectives. Fitting your aims into these parameters is a surefire way to understand and achieve your vision.
Obtain Appropriate Licenses
As discussed earlier, you cannot simply build a music streaming platform and upload songs; you first need to obtain the appropriate licenses. Generally speaking, you’ll need to obtain licenses from The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), as well as Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI).
Applying for an ASCAP and BMI license will incur a fee, but this results in a substantially smaller cost than being sued by record labels for using their music without permission. Without these licenses, you are unable to build a music streaming app like Spotify, asyou cannot legally distribute songs via streaming without infringing on copyright laws.
Design Competitive Features
The next stage is to design your music streaming application and outline its features. Your app’s features should be designed with proper user interface (UI) practices in mind, as well as a smooth user experience (UX) that will keep users returning to the platform. Its functionality should also offer differentiated elements that help you stand out from competitors.
Fortunately, there are many products available to assist with the design process, including Mockflow, which can be used to create a simple outline of your application, and Figma, a platform that comes equipped with an extensive suite of stylistic design tools.
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After designing your app and clearly outlining its features, you can move on to its development. If you have the required technical knowledge to build a music streaming application, then you can put your earlier design to use and build the platform yourself. However, if you lack the skills, resources, or time to build a mobile app, you may want to consider hiring an expert development agency.
When employing a development company, it’s important to examine the developer’s portfolio to verify that they have relevant experience and that all the apps and websites in their portfolio function as they should. Additionally, scheduling a discovery call can help you get any questions answered and enable you to learn more about the agency first-hand to ensure they are the best fit for your project.
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Deliver to Stores
Finally, once your app is developed and rigorously tested to identify and eliminate obvious bugs, your music streaming app is ready for release. However, it’s essential to understand that this is not the end of the track. Now, you must closely monitor your app to ensure future bugs are remedied swiftly, keeping the app functioning correctly.
You should also gather user feedback and refine your music streaming app accordingly. What additional features do your users want? What is and isn’t working? Making these changes will help to make your users feel valued and boost the overall experience.
Music Streaming Market Trends
The music streaming industry is heavily influenced by listener behavior and interests. As a result, it’s essential to consider various market trends when building your own app like Spotify. These trends include social media integration, live streaming and podcast availability.
Social Media Integration
Spotify is no longer just a music streaming platform; it now has several features that make it “social music streaming platform.” This means that it includes functionality similar to dedicated social media apps or, at least, features that help to connect users. For example, users can connect Spotify with their Facebook accounts to see what their friends are listening to.
Additionally, Spotify recently introduced Spotify Clips, which allows artists to show Instagram Story-style videos on their pages. Spotify is also reportedly developing a new feature called Community that will enable users to see more of their friends’ listening habits.
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Though regrettable, it’s a challenge to write about music industry trends without mentioning COVID-19. While roughly 50 percent of musicians’ profits are generated from live events, concerts were heavily restricted during the pandemic. When they were allowed, social distancing measures had to be in place, reducing capacity and ultimately hitting the music industry with a green-faced financial brick.
Live-streamed events became a staple of the COVID-19 lockdowns, seeing a 20.4 percent increase in viewers during 2020. This trend has continued, with live-streaming viewers still seeing an increase of 20.7 percent in 2022. It’s unlikely that live-streamed events will replace in-person concerts, but their growth is set to continue.
Podcasts and Shows
There are 4.7 million podcasts on Spotify and counting. What’s more, 29.1 percent of people who listen to podcasts do so on Spotify, making it the industry leader for podcast streaming, as well as for music. And with a yearly listenership growth of 5 to 6 percent a year, podcasts are becoming increasingly popular and a major component of streaming platforms like Spotify.
However, it’s not just Spotify that offers podcasts. Tidal, Apple Music, and Deezer all feature extensive libraries of podcasts and shows too. Google even launched a dedicated podcast service called Google Podcasts in 2018.
Popular Competitors of Spotify
Though Spotify remains the music streaming industry leader, there are several platforms that rival it in terms of functionality and popularity.
Remember iTunes? Wasn’t that a hassle–plugging your phone into your laptop and having to import your songs to your device after converting them to a format that iTunes recognized. Apple Music was launched in 2015 to compete with Spotify and improve the previously clunky iTunes experience. In fact, iTunes was discontinued in 2019.
Now, Apple Music is home to over 90 million songs and offers users a smooth experience that’s perfectly integrated with Apple devices, along with lossless audio quality.
If you’re a fan of Jay-Z, it’s likely Tidal has been your music streaming platform of choice for the last few years, as from 2017 to 2019, his music was exclusive to the platform. Now, the main selling point of Tidal is its studio-quality audio unrivaled by other streaming services. Yet, to access this audio quality, users are required to pay a monthly subscription fee of $19.99, which is much higher than Spotify’s all-inclusive rate of $9.99.
Like Tidal, Deezer also boasts high-caliber audio with CD quality. However, its Unique Selling Point (USP) is Deezer Flow, which creates an infinite mix of songs tailored to your taste. Though Spotify has a similar feature with “Made For You” and song radios, Deezer’s Flow algorithm is excellent for discovering new music. It also takes the burden of choice away from users, as they can just hit play and listen to whatever Deezer Flow decides.
Popular Music Streaming App Features
Spotify and music streaming apps, in general, have several popular features that help to create an excellent user experience. Once you understand these features, you can include them in your own streaming app like Spotify.
Users should be able to create playlists of their favorite songs. They must be able to add, remove, and change the order of their playlist. Advanced features, such as adding a playlist cover image and description, could also be added to push functionality even further.
Streaming platforms typically allow users to view a dedicated page for each music artist on the platform. The artist page should contain a bio, social features like links to social media, and their catalog of music available on the platform.
Much like on social media apps, such as Instagram, streaming services offer a discovery page where users can explore new music. Discovering new music is crucial in any music streaming platform and helps to keep users on the app for longer while they browse.
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Saving songs for offline listening is an excellent addition to any music streaming service, as it means users don’t need to switch to other services while traveling or in areas with a poor network connection. Most major music streaming apps offer offline listening. For copyright purposes, however, it’s essential to ensure the files it downloads to a user device are not accessible within another audio playback app.
Once your app is available in app stores, you’ll need to generate a solid user base in order for later monetization. Here are some ways to do so.
App Store Optimization
Like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), App Store Optimization (ASO) involves positioning your app’s store pages for maximum visibility. This is done in a similar way to SEO by using relevant keywords, in-store page titles, and descriptions. There are also several ASO ranking factors to consider, including keyword usage, reviews, ratings, and conversion rate.
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Google Search Ads
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads can also be placed on Google search results to target t users with specific interests and who search relevant keywords. Generally speaking, PPC ads yield high impression rates but low conversion rates. Still, they are an excellent way to create brand awareness and can be placed with a small budget. It’s always best to first run a few test ads with low budgets before running any long-term, expensive campaigns.
How To Monetize a Music Streaming App
Once you’ve built up a user base, you can then work to generate revenue. There are several ways to do this.
One common way to monetize an app is using the SaaS business model. This is where users are offered different levels of access to features for different prices. For example, most apps provide a limited free version and a feature-rich paid version with a mid-level offering somewhere in between. Offering a free version is an excellent way to entice users into wanting more features and ultimately encourage them to upgrade.
Related Article: Understanding the SaaS Business Model and How It Works
Another way you can earn revenue is to allow advertisers to run ads on your platform. This allows you to generate income every time the ad is viewed and even more when it’s actually clicked. You can also give users the option to remove ads from the app for a one-time or recurring fee.
Cost of Creating a Music Streaming App
Unlike other mobile applications, music streaming apps come with the added cost of licensing. As a result, even if you decide to develop an app like Spotify without help from a developer, you will still have several external costs, plus the expenditure of your time. That’s why hiring an expert development agency to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is likely your best choice.
An MVP app contains only the essential features required for it to function correctly while still delivering its intended purpose. Due to containing the fewest features possible, development costs and hours are reduced. Then, if your app proves profitable, you can reinvest your earnings into further app development.
Contact Idea Maker to Build Your Own Music Streaming App
At Idea Maker, we have extensive experience in mobile app, software, and website development. Our portfolio contains over 40 successfully delivered projects and counting. Along with our team of expert designers and developers, working with Idea Maker means you can rest assured that you’re in safe hands. For more information, schedule a free consultation today.