The 2016 Music Apps You Need To Download Now

When Spotify doesn't quite cut the mustard

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If you're anything like me, the music app wars mean one thing: your smartphone has become a battlefield with all the usual suspects competing for your attention. High-profile Spotify snubs from the likes of Radiohead, Taylor Swift, Coldplay, and Adele, mean you probably bounce between Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal (if you're relatively rich). 

Then there's Soundcloud for under-the-radar talent, and YouTube for visuals and just about everything else.

Adele, Taylor Swift and Coldplay, have all snubbed Spotify
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With all of that noise to cut through, you're probably ready to take your mobile music streaming experience to fresh, new territory. 

Well, you're in luck. I've tried out and selected some of the music apps that I think deserve the prime real estate on your homescreen right now. 

1. Musixmatch (iOS, Android)

Hands up if you've ever mistakenly sung "Start a mosh, play Adele, giving love to the world" in Elle Goulding's "Burn"? Just me then? 

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But if you have found yourself mumbling nonsensical lyrics, this crowd-edited app is for you: it's the world's largest lyric catalogue. Plus, if you're feeling creative, you can overlay your images with lyrics for Socality-worthy posts on most social feeds. And there are no spammy pop-ups in sight.

2. Leaf FM Music (iOS, Android)

"Made with love in Costa Rica & Newcastle-Upon-Tyne" and available in 187 countries, this music startup brings you a comprehensive offering of deftly-curated playlists and recommendations for music's hottest global stars. 

But there's one key feature that sets it apart from competitors: no subscriptions! You just download and stream to your heart's content. You do have to sign in if you want save favourites or have access to your playlists offline, though. Browse by mood, genre, or even by YouTubers. Oh, and rumour has it that the app is about to get even better in its next updates with audio-only and background playback.

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3. Digital Concert Hall by Berliner Philharmoniker (iOS, Android)

You don't have to be a classical music expert to get the most out of this brilliant live-experience app by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. While much of the content requires the purchase of an in-app digital ticket, there is an extensive archive and regular new updates of free selected performances, interviews, and introductions to composers and their work, all ready to be enjoyed any time you fancy. Having one of the best symphony orchestras in the world in your pocket  - what's not to love?

4. Qello Concerts (iOS, Android)

Ever weep over sold out Rihanna tickets, or lament that you missed the moment simply because you weren't actually born yet? This app is the closest you can get to curing FOMO. Chances are you'll find every one of the performances you want to relive or wish you lived through in Qello's rabbit-hole digital library. Each concert has a setlist from which you can pull together your very own playlists for the ultimate concert viewing experience. It's also got the most extensive (and legal) dedicated music documentary library in one place that I've ever come across. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial before you commit to the full subscription, and one account works across all of your devices. 

5. Tunein Radio (iOS, Android)

The sheer volume of channels and interest areas beyond music makes Tunein Radio essential downloading all on its own. It feels like every possible station and podcast in the world is with me on the go, and in just about every language, too. Browse stations by genre within the music categories, and because each station displays the track listing of what's playing now, you won't have clicker's regret. And, the app cleverly picks up where you left off the last time you closed it (though it won't bookmark your place forever), as well as any presets you've saved. I just listened to a cover of Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus by Johnny Cash on Heads 106.4FM in New Zealand while whatsapping with my bestie, so bless this app

6. Boom (iOS)

Let's face it: smartphone and tablet headsets can be pretty disappointing. Tinny, bottomless sound doesn't make for experiencing Lemonade in all its true sonic glory. That's where Boom comes in. The app elevates your downloaded music library to the realms at which it was intended to be enjoyed: immersive, surround sound. Start by selecting the type of headphones connected to your device and away you go. You'll never want to listen through anything else.

7. Livestream (iOS, Android)

From Schomburg Center talks to sporting events, Livestream is a bit of a mishmash. Admittedly, there is so much content to filter through that it's best to take advantage of the 'search' function and the 'music' tab. My recommendations: enjoy a jazzy evening out at Lincoln Centre in NYC from wherever you are in the world (I recently caught the live performance and artist interview with the Ali Jackson Trio). Follow your favourite accounts to receive alerts when the next live broadcast is about to begin. Missed a show? Each channel's archive is your best bet.

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