Entertainment iPhone and iPad

The Best iPhone Music Apps and Alternative Music Managers for iOS

Shianne Edelmayer Updated 16-12-2019

There are lots of iPhone music players that you can use to listen to your music. In fact, there are so many music apps for your phone that you should never feel stuck with Apple’s built-in Apple Music.


If you want an alternative way of transferring, storing, or playing back your files from your iOS music library, there are a lot options available. The same is true for finding alternative ways to listening to music through streaming.

Here are the best music apps for the iPhone currently on the market.

How Does Music Work on iOS?

How Music Works on iOS

Apple’s famous “walled garden” pushes a specific and sometimes outdated approach to media management. Assuming you’re using your own files, you’ll need to import music into your library. Then—when your iPhone is paired with the computer that holds your music—you’ll need to sync, either directly or through Wi-Fi.

The downside to this approach is that you can’t just point your browser at a file and download it. The upside to this centralized music library, however, is that the operating system handles media playback.


Want to learn more? Here’s how to transfer music from an old iPod to your computer or iPhone How to Transfer Music From an Old iPod to Your Computer or iPhone Here's how to transfer music from your iPod to a computer to salvage music on an old iPod and sync it to your library. Read More .

A Word on Apple Music

Apple Music launched a while back, so it’s definitely not the newest app on the market. However, most iOS music apps take Apple Music into account.

Because of this, we’ll focus on music players that integrate with Apple Music, at least in terms of playback.


Free Music Apps for iPhone

If you don’t want to pay, let’s first look at the best free music apps for iPhone.

1. SoundShare

SoundShare is a collaborative app that connects many different services together, including Apple Music, Spotify, and Deezer. It’s a music social network you’ll need to sign up for. Anyone who wants to collaborate with you on playlists will have to do the same.

SoundShare is one of the best music apps for iPhone if you want to share your musical tastes. You can like, comment, and advertise your music recommendations, as well as build a playlist by working with other people.


Unfortunately, SoundShare is not much fun to use if you’re going alone. You’ll need to share with other users to get the most use out of it. Plus, you must have a paid subscription to Apple Music, Spotify, or Deezer in order to connect these services to SoundShare.

Download: SoundShare (Free)

2. VLC for Mobile

VLC is an old-school—and trusted—music player for the iPhone. It’s a good choice if you want to go standalone and plan to ditch Apple Music entirely. Not only does it play most music and video files (including otherwise unsupported formats like FLAC), it has support for multiple audio tracks, too.


Additional features available in VLC:

  • Transfer music through a browser via Wi-Fi, or use cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive.
  • The app supports file sharing over SMB, FTP, and UPnP.
  • VLC for Mobile doesn’t need to be open to play media. This allows you to listen to music in the background while working in other apps.

VLC is a pretty extensive program that can handle a lot, so give it a try if you’re a fan of local media.

Download: VLC for Mobile (Free)

3. FLAC Player+

If VLC for Mobile isn’t cutting it, FLAC Player+ should do the trick.

FLAC Player+ is a good free music app for the iPhone if you’re looking for something dedicated to local media playback. It supports FLAC, MP3, AAC, WMA, and RealMedia formats.

The apps lets you group songs by playlist, album, and artist. Just like VLC, you can transfer music via Wi-Fi. However, FLAC Player+ is more of a “true” music player than VLC, so it doesn’t work with video.

The interface also needs a bit of work work, but it’s easy to use and free. You can remove the ads with a small in-app purchase.

Download: FLAC Player+ (Free)

The Best Music Apps for iPhone With Subscription Options

Moving on, let’s take a look at the best music apps for iPhone that offer a subscription for more features.

Note that due to Apple taking a 30% cut of all in-app purchases from iOS apps, many services increase the price of their subscriptions to compensate for this. For example, Spotify on iOS costs $13 per month for Premium instead of the usual $10 per month. As a result, you should avoid subscribing to any service through its iPhone app when possible.

1. Listen

Listen is a good music app for the iPhone if you’re looking to navigate your music collection. The app uses gesture-based controls, and its basic functionality as a music player is completely free. If you want to access local and online radio stations, you’ll need to upgrade with a subscription at $2.99 per month.

Standout features:

  • Browse your music library by album, artist, playlist, and the aforementioned radio stations.
  • The Now Playing screen allows you to drag music artwork around your display, so you can skip tracks or return them to your collection.

Download: Listen (Free, subscription available)

2. Musixmatch

Musixmatch lyrics finder is an extremely popular music app for the iPhone. This is because it allows you to find the lyrics to songs already synced to your device. It also allows you to connect your Apple Music and Spotify profiles.

The Musixmatch app shows you the lyrics in time with the music, so you can dive deeper into your favorite tracks.

Other Musixmatch features to know:

While Musixmatch is free, it offers subscription plans to remove ads and add a few extra features.

Download: Musixmatch (Free, subscription available)

3. Apple Music | Spotify | Deezer

Subscription services like Spotify and Deezer—plus Apple Music itself—offer you another way of listening to music on-the-go. Unfortunately, these come with a drawback. Unless you’ve downloaded it offline, you’ll need to stream your music. This will require a generous data plan for when you’re not on Wi-Fi.

On the flip side, all three of these options are easy-to-use services that allow you to listen to music whenever you want. They’re some of the best music music apps for the iPhone you’ll find. Apple Music even gives you a three-month free trial before requiring a subscription.

Just be wary of the aforementioned data usage when you’re not on Wi-Fi, and these apps will fulfill your music needs.

Download: Apple Music (Free trial, subscription required)
Download: Spotify (Free, subscription available)
Download: Deezer (Free, subscription available)

4. SoundCloud

SoundCloud has always marched to the beat of its own drum compared to other music services. As one of the best free music apps for the iPhone, it offers a great place for anyone to upload their music, remixes, podcasts, or live sessions.

While SoundCloud has been hit by tough competition in recent years, it still provides a place for regular users and emerging artists to share their work.

If you’re willing to pay, SoundCloud Go is a premium plan that offers offline downloads and ad-free music for $5/month. Meanwhile, SoundCloud Go+ for $10/month adds an extended catalog that more closely resembles Spotify or Apple Music.

Download: SoundCloud (Free, subscription available)

5. Google Play Music

Google Play Music allows you to sync 50,000 songs with your Google account for free. This convenience makes it one of the best music apps for the iPhone.

As you’d expect, it also features a uniquely “Google” interface with a few neat features. This includes suggestions for what to listen to and recommendations based upon your previous tastes.

Notes on Google Play Music:

  • The free version of Google Play Music uses an ad-based model, so you don’t get uninterrupted listening when streaming radio stations.
  • Like other services, if you’re a paid subscriber, you can access a much larger catalog of music.
  • You can download your own music for offline listening, but you must subscribe to download other music.

Google Play Music has been on Android for some time, where it has earned a reputation as a go-to music app. You may thus prefer another choice that’s built for iOS.

Download: Google Play Music (Free, subscription available)

Or Try a Paid Music App for iPhone

If none of these free apps work for you, we’ve rounded up a couple of paid music apps for iPhone, too.

1. Ecoute

Best Music Players for iPhone Ecoute Paid App

Ecoute is a paid music app for iPhone that takes play counts and last-played data into consideration. It features an enhanced shuffle tool that allows you to sort music by albums and last played dates to better serve up the tunes.

Download: Ecoute ($0.99)

2. Cs Music Player

Cs Music Player is another paid music app that’s great for anyone yearning for a classic music app experience. It provides a simple, easy-to-use interface that maintains compatibility with Apple Music and locally synced files.

Download: Cs Music Player ($2.99)

3. Stezza

Lastly, Stezza is a one-handed playback app that advertises itself as the best music player for the iPhone if you’re a driver or very active.

Download: Stezza ($2.99)

What’s Your Favorite Music App?

Apple Music is an obvious choice for iPhone owners, but it’s far from your only option. Whether you prefer to sync your own music or stream everything, there’s a music app on iOS for you. Try a few out and see which works best for your use.

If you’d like to create as well as consume, check out some iPhone apps that you can use to create music The 8 Best Music Making Apps for Your iPhone and iPad Here are the best music making apps for iPhone and iPad that allow for music production wherever you go. Read More .

Related topics: Apple Music, Google Music, iTunes, Music Management, SoundCloud, Spotify, Streaming Music.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. pusherbox
    October 10, 2019 at 9:06 am

    Marvis Pro, of course! The best customizable experience on iOS.
    The best Last.fm scrobbler (even without adding songs to the library.
    And last a great developper

  2. Dudel
    November 18, 2018 at 8:42 am

    Concerning Section „Ditch The Music Library“:
    I find it useful to have a music library separate from the iTunes library but I am not convinced by the two apps recommended here:
    - VLC is a great universal media playback tool unbeaten for video, but music just isn’t its strong point. The WiFi transfer is comfortable but not always reliable. The browsing experience is mediocre: Albums displayed as elongated rectangles and in reverse alphabetical order (why?), no sorting by artist or year, track numbers at the end of the line often invisible, etc. And I recently had trouble with playback stopping after each track when the phone is in sleep mode. That’s when I decided to ditch VLC for music purposes.
    - FLAC Player+ lacks comfort in its WiFi transfer function (no drag & drop), displays ads (which can be removed for a buck, fair enough), has decent browsing options (despite a slightly old-fashioned look) but was immediately disqualified for me when I realised that you cannot delete entire albums from the library at once but only single tracks one by one.
    The best app I could find so far is VOX. Music files can be transferred easily via AirDrop (for Mac users, might be a problem for Windows). Browsing functionality is perfect, a lot of sorting options and an appealing modern design. True, they try to sell you a premium upgrade with cloud space and additional features (equaliser), but it’s not too intrusive and the basic version already works fine.

  3. Allan
    October 23, 2017 at 5:28 am


    Before I drop a few $ on your app I want to make sure that it does what I want.

    I'm on ios11 now and I hate the music app. The one feature that I am looking for is to sort the song list in the order they were added. I don't want them sorted by artist or by title. I want them sorted by newest to oldest and can play them randomly as well. Any music app does that?


    • Zach
      October 11, 2018 at 4:04 pm

      I know this comes almost a year later than you posted this question, but yes, the Cesium app will sort your music in the order it was added.

  4. Vaginiqua
    October 14, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    Unfortunately, the lack of jailbreak for the iPhone 7 and 7+ Has made it impossible to import music files from third-party apps into the native music app on the iPhone. That is very frustrating since I use a lightning external flash drive often and I have iTunes match. Luckily I have unlimited data With the zero throttling through T-Mobile, and services such as Spotify and Napster do not use any data anyway. I just hate the sandbox file system. Although I am a big Apple fan. I just wish they gave the option to experienced users to access The root filesystem, when people who know how to do it should be allowed to do it.

  5. joana
    August 30, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Hi guys! there's an app that have deeper, Spotify and youtube all at once! It's called Sopranosapp. Have you used it, yet?

  6. simon12
    July 6, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    I use VOX. iTunes does not support high-resolution music files. https://vox.rocks/mac-music-player

  7. noobie1
    April 21, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    I found music player X on iOS works pretty well

    • barver
      June 4, 2017 at 1:21 am

      Wow thanks for this i really like the eq on this app

    • barver
      June 4, 2017 at 1:22 am

      Wow, thanks, I like music player X the eq is simple and works really well

    January 16, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    OMFG Soundshare is such a good app. XD

  9. daniel
    November 19, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    VLC mobile for music??? Am I missing something??? I find no method to automatically transfer a complete music library with folder structure ... Sure you can create folders one by one and drag and drop files one by one .... but that is cumbersome at best if you have more than a few files in your library.

  10. Maxim Chernousov
    September 20, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    The good review, only I can mention what too few free alternative players which I like always
    I could recommend to add in this list more free alternative players. Although among freebie apps it is possible some time to find a qualitative and interesting things. i.e. alphaSXplayer (www.alphasxplayer.com). It lets play with different playback option (rate, pitch, special effects, instrument tune and etc). Plus, it can be used as a featured voice recorder.

  11. Maru
    August 30, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    I use VOX free music player for my iPhone. And I always have access to good and favorite tracks

  12. Anonymous
    July 5, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    what is the advantages fr this application

  13. drunkfetus
    June 20, 2016 at 12:24 am

    I like to upload my music to my google play music account and then download it for offline use using the google play music app. The online google play music site has options to edit music song titles, albums, art work, etc.