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The nine best free music apps

The best free music apps for your every need, from discovering new songs to hunting down unique mixtapes

Photograph: Shutterstock

For all your listening desires, here are the nine best free music apps you should download. Yes, you still have to pay for Adele’s new album, but these apps are definitely worth downloading if you want to listen to a playlist of motivating workout songs, get over him or her with some great breakup songs or just, you know, listen to music based on recommendations from real people (not algorithms!). Did we mention they're free?

The best free music apps

1
The classic: Pandora

The classic: Pandora

Pandora is a longtime standard of the internet radio age—for good reason. It's powered by the Music Genome Project, which aims to provide information along with songs. Select an artist, genre or composer on your mobile device, and it takes care of the rest with its complex classifying system, filling in your playlist with perfectly complementary tunes
Available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone

2
Most streamlined library: Apple Music

Most streamlined library: Apple Music

Let's be real, we all lead messy digital lives: Our music is scattered across laptops, phones and the mysterious cloud. Instead of running away from musical disarray, streamline data with the Apple Music app, combining iTunes libraries with imported tracks and purchased songs from the Apple Music store. It’s much better than repeatedly listening to that one party playlist that randomly synced from your phone.
Available on Android and iOS

3
Most creative playlists: Spotify

Most creative playlists: Spotify

If you don’t feel like sifting through Spotify’s 30 million on-demand songs, just pick a playlist mood (Afternoon Acoustic, All The Feels, Confidence Boost) or a cleverly named subgenre (R'n'Bed, Deathcore, Epic Classical) and tune in to a curated collection of tracks from 1,300 genres.
Available on Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry

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4
Best curated catalog: Amazon Music

Best curated catalog: Amazon Music

Unlimited skips! Ad-free stations! Streaming from the cloud! It's technically only free if you're an Amazon Prime member, but this app is such a fantastic option for tuning in to chart-climbing hits and creating personalized playlists, we had to include it. By liking or disliking songs, you can train the algorithm to learn your musical preferences. Your tailor-made, cloud-streamed playlist is just a click away.
Available on Android and iOS

5
Best for discovering new artists: Soundcloud

Best for discovering new artists: Soundcloud

Upload original songs and discover emerging artists on this app, with a minimalist design and aesthetically sound layout making for seamless browsing. You can link your Amazon and Google Play accounts to get greater access to a wider assortment of songs, and it’s not just for music: you can download podcasts and audio shows, too.
Available on Android and iOS

6
Best for going offline: Google Play

Best for going offline: Google Play

Tech heavyweight Google launched this one so that you can continue to jam out to your saved songs when you go off the grid—in a subway, on an elevator, exploring the great outdoors—anywhere far from Internet service. And there's no need to sync—your playlists update instantly across all your devices.
Available on Android and iOS

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7
Most in-tune with you: Mixradio

Most in-tune with you: Mixradio

Peruse a library of more than 35 million songs, select a rotation of artists, plug in your earbuds and bliss out to a playlist made just for you by its music experts. You can also listen to genre-specific mixes, and there will be new music suggestions thrown in there, too. And after you download your most favorite roundups, you can listen to them offline at any time.
Available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone

8
Best mixtape selection: Datpiff

Best mixtape selection: Datpiff

Many apps give users access to mixtapes and underground Hip-Hop and R&B, but Datpiff is top in terms of usability (Spinrilla is a close second). Download unlimited mixtapes—without making an account—to listen to artists like Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka, Migos and Wiz Khalifa whenever you please.
Available on Android and iOS

9
Best for social sharing: Cymbal

Best for social sharing: Cymbal

Cymbal is the Instagram of the music app universe: Built for social interaction, it lets users discover music organically, sans algorithms. Follow an artist, celebrity or your most in-the-know friend and double-tap the heart icon to like, comment or add a hashtag to their posted tracks. There’s also a comments section so you can deconstruct your favorite lyrics, and you can even search out people with matching tastes (aka your musical soul mate).
Available on iOS

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