If you’re looking for inspiration for music over the festive break you’re not alone. We’ve been feeling a little bamboozled by the array of music options around lately. But as smartphone users we know we have access to some amazing music apps. So with Christmas, New Year and parties in mind, the Snakehive team has delved into the world of music apps and compiled a list of our favourites for Android and iOS.
The way we discover or listen to music is changing rapidly with the growing trend towards music streaming services. The concept of subscribing to music in favour of owning music via downloads or CDs is the way forward for many - although we’re happy vinyl is having its revival with the launch of the Top 40s for singles and albums by the Official Charts Company last year. (And pub vinyl nights are a favourite social at Snakehive.)
But if you’re looking for convenience and music inspiration then streaming is your best bet to get access to an extensive library of music. You won’t have 100s of CDs cluttering up your house either. However, you do need to make sure your broadband and mobile data connection are fast enough and you’ve got a high or unlimited download allowance - streaming will use up your monthly allowance.
The big three providers - Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play Music - offer similarly priced subscriptions at £9.99 a month per user (or a family account for approximately £15 a month allowing six people to have full access). All three services are available to Android and iOS devices. Free versions are offered but include adverts, can only play online and have limited functions.
One big draw of streaming services is the ready-made play list that can be selected by mood or genre - which can also introduce you to new music based on your favourites. Exclusive content or new and intuitive features differentiate the streaming services and are among the reasons people sign up to one over another.
A few highlights from each of the three main players:
Spotify has traditionally dominated the music streaming market and currently offers a three-month trial for £0.99. You can add your purchased music into Spotify via your computer but you’ll have to add these local files manually. The ‘On Tour’ feature enables you to find out whether an artist you’ve searched for is playing in the UK soon and you can even purchase band merchandise in the store. Spotify offers the best free service - this comes with adverts, and tracks can’t be accessed offline.
Apple Music offers a three-month free trial. The service has been designed to combine music you’ve bought with music you’ve saved from Apple’s cloud services in the Apple Music library. Apple Music does this automatically via integration with iTunes. Siri also works with Apple Music so you can ask her to play 'the top songs from a particular year' or to play 'happy music' or 'music for working out' for example. Free listeners are able to listen to the Beats 1 radio station on Apple Radio, which is a 24-hour live global station.
Google Play Music provides a 30-day free trial. Like Spotify, Google Play Music allows you to add you own locally stored tracks - but you also get cloud storage for up to 50,000 of your personal songs.
The best advice given to us is to try out all the free trials and see which one you prefer. There are other options too including: Amazon Music Unlimited, Qobuz, Deezer, Napster, Groove Music (from Microsoft), Tidal, MixCloud and SoundCloud.
For budding DJs who want to experiment with putting their own mixes together for a party soundtrack over Christmas there are apps especially designed to help out. Try Serato Pyro (iOS Free) which can pull songs from your iTunes and Spotify (paid) collections and suggest others that it thinks will fit well with your own tracks. It will then re-sort your playlist to get a better sounding track order. For a similar experience for those with Android or iOS systems, check out edjing (Free). It can access music from other streaming services like SoundCloud and Deezer.
Get your playlist heard
Not strictly an app but once you've sorted your playlist you'll need to get it heard. We've turned to our friends at Techradar to get the low down on the best Bluetooth speakers. Here’s their list of 10 best Bluetooth speaker buys.
But if you don't have a speaker handy there's even an app that will sync your phone with your friends' devices to create one powerful sound system. Check out AmpMe (Free iOS, Android).
Sing your heart out Karaoke style
Karaoke has evolved with apps to get everyone singing at your party - and not being able to sing is no longer a barrier. Many apps now include voice enhancement so you'll always sound good if you want to record and play back your performances.
One of the best is Yokee (Free, Premium £5.99 monthly, £29.99 annually) for both Android and iOS devices. You can search for songs and playlists of your favourite artists, genres or themes - there's even a Christmas playlist. Yokee leverages You Tube's unlimited library of songs and videos. Just sing directly into the built-in mic on your phone or tablet. You can get a 7-day free trial for the play back function which could be all you need to get your Karaoke fun during the festive celebrations.
We've come to the end of our round-up but realise there are so many more apps out there for the music enthusiast so we'll be returning to music in a future blog. In the meantime enjoy sorting your music. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the choices but get familiar with one app at a time and it will add an extra spark to your musical world.
And remember if you're looking for any last minute gifts, it's not too late to check out our gift guide - many of the Snakehive phone cases feature precise cutouts for the ports and buttons allowing easy use of headphones for when you're looking for a private moment with your favourite tracks. We offer Free UK First Class Shipping on all orders too! Our last post date is 22nd December for a pre-Christmas delivery.