How to Develop an Audio Streaming App
According to IFPI Global Music Report 2021, at the end of 2020 there were 443 million users of paid subscription accounts in music streaming services. Streaming platforms’ income reached $13,4 billion. This is 62,1% of total global recorded music revenues.
With the start of the pandemic, the demand for streaming services has increased. And this is not only about music. With a lot of free time but a lack of opportunities for face-to-face meetings, many people have switched to streaming apps:
- The number of Discord users grew by around 70 million in 2020.
- 100 million people listened to podcasts each month.
- Americans listened to an average of 8.1 audiobooks in 2020, up from 6,8 in the previous year.
- In February 2021, Clubhouse’s audience reached 10 million, although this app had around 2 million users in January.
Why do users choose streaming services?
Because they don’t have to download gigabytes of music or other audio tracks onto their device — one little app provides it all. Another advantage is that they can easily connect with people in any part of the world: whether it’s listening to an online lecture or meeting new people in audio dating apps.
We will look at the elements that make up these types of apps. So if you have a great idea of your own streaming app, read this article till the end!
🤔 Key Points to Consider in Building Audio Streaming App
Before you start to create an audio streaming app, there are some things worth your attention.
Audio storage and streaming protocol 📳
Before developing the streaming app, you have to decide how to store and transit tracks to your listener.
You can use a physical server to organize storage, and the distribution server will spread your content to other devices. The physical server is better for sites with a consistently high load. This option is more secure and reliable, but it is also more expensive.
Another option is cloud services like Amazon S3, Cloud CDN, or any other with a Content Delivery Network. Cloud storage enables faster data transfer by distributing its storage across multiple geographical locations.
Also, Spotify and SoundCloud allow broadcasting from their catalogs using API.
To give listeners a perfect seamless broadcasting experience, choose an appropriate streaming protocol. These are the most commonly used ones:
- WebRTC protocols are used to transfer audio in real-time. They are useful for live streaming and audio chat apps like Clubhouse.
- UDP protocol would be ideal for radio streaming. Unlike WebRTC, apps with UDP protocol don’t require listener registration to reach a wider audience.
- TCP protocol is used for storing and serial data transmission. It is the best solution for music streaming app like Apple Music, podcast app, and audiobooks.
On-demand or live streaming 🎧
There are 2 basic types of streaming apps — on-demand and live. Live streaming is mostly used by radio stations such as iHeartRadio or apps like Pandora.
In this case, a customer can’t select what track he wants to listen to — the app decides it instead. It seems like a DJ on classic radio stations. The user discovers new artists and genres he or she has not listened to before.
Other examples of live audio streaming apps may be voice chat apps like Clubhouse or online lecture apps.
Using on-demand streaming apps customers can make their own playlists and play favorite songs to the death. In addition to selected tracks, the listener is free to choose the recommendation section. It is formed based on the preferences of users with similar musical tastes. Also, this is how podcast apps usually work: the client can listen to audio that has already been uploaded.
However, it’s not only about podcasts or music app development. This model is also used in apps with on-demand audio courses or audiobooks.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t use both types in one app. However, to enter the market easier and faster, choose the main one for the minimum viable product (MVP). This solution will help you test your idea and understand what your clients are really interested in.
License in music streaming app 📑
To create a music app, both live and on-demand streaming, require a license and agreements. But each type of streaming is licensed by different organizations. Here is a list of them:
|Performance Rights Organizations: ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC
Represent songwriters and publishers, get only digital royalties
|Major labels: Sony Music and Universal Music Group|
Represents performers and labels
|Independent aggregators: Distrokid, LANDR
Mainly work with indie artists
|Independent aggregators: Distrokid, LANDR
Mainly work with indie artists
If you want to make a music app like Spotify, be ready for large fees for being a part of the music streaming market: in 2020 this music streaming service paid royalties worth over $5 billion.
📱 Essential Features of the Audio Streaming App
The list of app features can be quite long. This is affected by your purpose, your niche, and the needs of your users. Yet, the better you adjust your streaming app to the needs of your users, the more people will continue to use the app.
User profile 👥
It’s not a compulsory part, but it will improve app usability. Listeners will be able to subscribe to their favorite artists, save tracks and see their listening history. The app becomes more personalized, and recommendations are selected better. With personal profiles, the owner will know more about the target audience and understand its interests.
It will be a great idea to add Social Sign Up — the ability to create a profile by connecting to a social media account. It’s much faster than entering all personal data manually, and your users could see their friends.
Social Sign Up will be an advantage for you as well. With this feature, you can learn your users’ social media profiles, find out more information about them and gather more detailed statistics.
You can also gamify your streaming app to make it more attractive for users to spend time there. Implement an achievement system, so your customers could compete with friends and want to collect more awards.
Player in music app ⏯
It is the heart of any audio or music streaming app. Users will interact with this screen the most often, so it needs to be user-friendly and well-designed. The music player should have these features:
- The name of the played track and artist.
- Track or album cover.
- Control buttons (pause, previous/next audio, volume).
- Playlist with next songs.
- Like and add music tracks to the playlist.
To make your app better, add interesting features that upgrade its usability:
- Playing tracks in groups. Users can join a shared session, add tracks to a playlist together and select music to listen to.
- Switching between devices, like Spotify. You can transfer music playback from your smartphone to your computer or any other gadget without wires or logging into your account, but simply over WiFi. The device will start playing the track from the same point, and you can use your smartphone as a remote controller.
- Switching between video and audio players. This function is suitable for educational content or podcasts.
It is one of the essential components of the app. User should find what he wants as easily as possible, then he’ll have a better experience. When the client sends his request, the back-end database searches by keyword what the user wants to get — song, album, performer, audiobook, on-demand course, meditation, etc. After finding he will see the result screen with the most relevant points.
YouTube Music has a search history feature. It is helpful for users who forget the name of a track after listening to it or forget to subscribe to the last podcast heard. The app immediately shows audio that the listener previously searched for so they don't have to enter the name again. You can place this option right next to the search bar, and users won’t have to look for listening history.
Content library 🗃
Often this is what you see when you log into the app. The content library contains various playlists offered by the app. Tracks are divided by genre, charts, categories, and similarity to specific artists.
This feature is conveniently implemented by Apple Podcast. Although in music streaming apps the library is often combined with recommendations, this screen is usually left only for subscriptions, listening history and downloaded content in podcast apps.
Not only music and podcast apps can have an attractive content library, but also audio guides. For example, you can link geolocation to audio files and send a push notification when your client visits a particular sightseeing location. He doesn’t have to search for the record himself. It can also be useful in trips, offering your user to listen to local music charts.
Recommendations in podcasts and music streaming apps 👍
This screen improves audio app usage and customer experience. Users can’t listen to the same music every time, and after a while they’ll need new tracks. It is also necessary for podcasts: when the listener’s favorite podcast is over, he lacks audio content and looks for a new one.
This is what Recommendations were created for. Specially developed AI algorithms check what people with similar tastes listen to and their favorite tracks.
Push notifications 🔔
Let people know about your next live stream or the release of a song by their favorite artists. You can also inform users about app updates during a short banner message.
🎧 Types & Special Features of Audio Streaming Apps
Audio streaming apps exist not just for listening to music –– their capabilities are much broader. There are many businesses and start-ups that could benefit from this kind of app.
More than 40% of Americans actively listen to podcasts every month. This is an increase of 3% compared to 2020. The industry is actively growing, so the number of podcasts is also rising.
If you want to build a podcast app, here are some special features that will improve the experience of your users:
- An offline listening feature might be added to podcast apps. This is especially needed in countries with poor mobile internet speed.
- Invite users to rate podcasts and update your list of top episodes for the day or week. But to make it even more interesting, add a social media sharing feature and create a top list of podcasts shared by your users.
- You can also add push notifications when new podcast episodes are released so that listeners know when they need to download the latest one.
Meditation Apps 🧘♀️
The popularity of meditation peaked in March 2020, just at the start of the global lockdown. These apps are still used by people struggling with stress and want to increase their level of calm and concentration.
Divide all meditations into “packs” that touch on specific topics: stress relief, rest, good sleep, proper breathing, etc. An interesting solution would be a meditation of the day –– it can be listened to by the user who doesn’t have a specific request or problem.
For those who cannot concentrate while someone is talking, add various sounds of nature, such as rain, wind, or rustling leaves. These sounds also help to fall asleep, so you will be able to cover several needs of your audience.
Users will be keen on listening to meditations if you add statistics. For example, your app will count the number of minutes people meditate or the number of meditations they listen to. In addition, you can synchronize the app with a calendar so listeners will get reminders and won’t forget to meditate.
Audio Guides for Museums or Travel Agencies 🎭
A personal audio app will be helpful in large museums with a high attendance rate and actively updated exhibits. Stories about each exhibit can be uploaded to the app in several languages. It is possible to stick a QR-code next to each item and build into the app a feature for code scanning.
If museum visitors want a traditional tour, a live stream will allow the tour guide to speak into the microphone instead of raising his voice. Then every tourist in the group can hear him, and the rest of the visitors may enjoy the exhibits in silence.
A similar feature could be added to the travel agency application.
Audio Books Apps 📚
For this type of app, it is important to set up the ability to listen to audio from where the user left off. The absence of this feature is likely to reduce customer loyalty.
If you want to work with non-fiction literature, add a book-sharing option to the app. Independent indie publishers love this feature, and they value Amazon’s Audible for it.
Don’t forget to organize books by genre, author, theme, or even mood. This will make it easier to find books and improve the recommendation screen.
Voice Chat Apps 🗣
The most famous voice chat app of 2021 is Clubhouse. These apps are perfect for educational events or professional communication within a company. The advantages of this type of chat include:
- Creating separate rooms: open (for everyone), social (for people you follow), and closed (for chosen ones).
- Extensive moderation options: mute participants, start them in rooms, set permissions.
- File or screen sharing for visual support. This feature is helpful for educational purposes.
Voices chats have been on the market for a long time, but Clubhouse has changed the game and given a fresh perspective on this type of app. If you want to be on-trend and create your own voice chat app, read our article about Clubhouse.
Here are just some examples, but if your business is not on this list and you want to create a voice chat, an online lecture app, or anything else, please email us!
✅ Case Study: Feel amazing
At Stormotion, we have implemented audio streaming functionality in the Feel Amazing app. This is a project by a British hypnotherapist and motivational speaker Ailsa Frank that provides people with online audio courses.
The app replaced the bulky process of getting access to the tracks via the website and Dropbox. Now, users are able to listen to online courses just in the app, using a built-in player.
We also implemented different categories based on the type of content. For example, users can browse Sleep & Relaxation or Motivation categories as well as jump in to continue already started tracks.
Another interesting detail about the app is that users can choose a nature sound they’d like to put on the background while listening to the track.
Finally, the app features some content on topics like taking control of alcohol. Yet, since some content may still be highly relevant and useful to a younger audience, we introduced the Child Lock feature that hides courses for adults.
🖥 Admin Panel Functionality
It is necessary for you to control media content and users in the system at any time. You can manage the app by yourself or create roles (content maker, customer support, etc.) for your team members to help you provide the best user experience.
For the admin panel is available this set of features:
- Adding, editing, or deleting audio tracks.
- Adding new artists or podcasters.
- Change users’ status.
- Schedule live streaming.
- Updating pricing (for paid subscriptions).
This is only a sample set of features. You can always ask developers to extend it with whatever you need.
We hope this article helped you understand more about streaming app development. It's an excellent opportunity to get into the streaming world and establish yourself there.
We have some tips to help you attract to your app as many customers as possible:
- Be guided by the needs of your target audience. Research what features they really need.
- Your app must be user-friendly. For your listener, it has to be intuitive how everything works.
- Work out the recommendations section.
If you are searching for an experienced Development Team to build your streaming app, feel free to contact us! We will be happy to help you with your idea’s realization.