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How much does it cost to make an app like Spotify

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From a startup in 2008 to 100 million monthly active subscribers in 2017, Spotify has claimed the throne of music streaming business. Having a smartphone is synonymous to listening to music, practically. With customers in such abundance within reach, how much does it cost to make an app like Spotify is a hot topic.

Music streaming business is on the rise, as people do not have to download anything anymore. Vinyls and record collectors is a different story of itself. Our subject herein is how much does it cost to make an app like Spotify. Music just about equals Spotify and/or iTunes for millennials. What does it mean for mobile app development industry? Finding out the cost to create a music app.

Spotify has 50 million paying subscribers monthly

How does Spotify work

Spotify is a music streaming and playlist social sharing service available in 60 countries. It has over 30 million songs in its library and works across almost all devices. Users do not have to download songs and store them on a hard drive to listen. In Spotify users just find a song or album and play it online right away.

You have to be a registered user first to have access to basic Spotify features for free. But you’ll see in-app advertisement and won’t be able to listen to music offline. Paid Spotify subscriptions grant you full features, like downloading, no ads, or hi-fi sound quality in Premium. More Q&As below.

How much does Spotify cost?
There are 2 versions: free and Spotify premium for $10/month.

How to download music from Spotify?
Available only in Premium account, go to Library, select song or album. Then slide the Available Offline button to the right.

How to listen Spotify offline?
Select a playlist, tap Edit, and check if the arrow-icon next to it is grey or green. Tap grey ones to turn it green, which means a playlist is synced to your device. Press Done afterwards.

How to make playlists in Spotify?
Library > Playlists > Create new playlist. Name it, add tracks, or edit it at any moment.

How do you share a playlist on Spotify?
Select a song or playlist, tap the 3-dotted icon, and tap Share. Choose between Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr options and tap Post.

Next in our agenda of how much does it cost to make an app like Spotify are app features. Both basic and extra. So what makes up a music streaming business?

Spotify features

Currently, Spotify is not covering all the existing markets. In many countries users get the “Not available” notification. Hence, opportunities for music apps or to create music streaming website are still open. And the cost to make an app like Spotify would, of course confide in features and type of app. Here are core features of Spotify app:

Spotify music app features

What sets Spotify apart from other music services and radios is audio streaming. This technology allowed to enjoy music as easily as never before. More on that in our next section. Now, to make a music streaming app like Spotify one would have to implement the following features:

  • User profiles and authorization: forms for users to register and login, using email address or social media accounts
  • Audio streaming service: to enable constant online access to music files through cloud storages
  • Search and organize options: search and navigate algorithms to find songs by titles or artists, and save favorite tracks
  • Playlists: that users can save, edit and listen and share both in online and offline
  • Offline availability: saving music to users’ devices or computers, or caching files
  • Social sharing: options to share songs/playlists with friends and see what others are sharing, privately or publicly
  • Notifications: to get news from friends, artists and community.

In addition, you would almost definitely need to create subscription plans for a music app. The main way to earn money on Spotify-like app is to grant access to cool features with paid subscription. Or if you make a free music app, you can monetize on ads.

Let’s move on to specific ingredients to start your own music streaming service.

Technology stack for music streaming app

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Simply put, Spotify stores all the music on servers and sends requested songs to users’ devices. All files are cached on smartphones or laptops so there’s no need to retrieve it again from servers. For this, and all other features, Spotify use Cassandra, PostgreSQL and general memory caching system.

To make a music streaming app you can build your tech stack around Python and JavaScript, like Spotify team does. PHP is used to some extent on server side, though Spotify backend structure is mainly built with Java. Also, consider these tools that impact the cost to make an app like Spotify too:

  • Kafka software: to manage and process data in real-time
  • GraphWalker to conduct model-based testing and integrate with Python services
  • Amazon S3 (or similar) to store audio files, caching with CDNs
  • Dataproc or other Google cloud platforms for platform infrastructure
  • Chromium embedded framework (CEF) to build UI for desktop application
  • Bootstrap and/or HTML5 for web app development
  • Nginx as open source HTTP and proxy server

Cost components of Spotify-like app

There’s no plain and precise way to answer how much does it cost to make an app like Spotify. As you may know, mobile app development is a lengthy and complex venture. Consider dev team hired, hourly rate (or fixed price), business strategy, type of mobile app, features and app infrastructure, timeline, etc.

In most cases, developer rate is a defining factor to app cost. To make a music streaming app, or any mobile app, takes hundreds or thousands of hours. So, $25 per hour or $150 per hour rate for same app would make a fortune in between. As we’ve settled earlier with Shazam, Starbucks or Instagram cost articles, let’s use median $50 hourly rate for estimation.

For music app like Spotify the biggest chunk of work would be backend (20%) and app development (40%).

how much does it cost to make an app like Spotify, timeline

Though do not dismiss design/UX, web/front-end and quality assurance. These tasks are critical as well to make an app similar to Spotify. And together, it all suggests hiring a team of 7-10 experts, at least.

Backend for app like Spotify

The architecture (backend) to an app like Spotify could quickly turn quite entangled. This is due to use of many supplementary services, like Spotify apparently does include hundreds of them. Most of them are written in Java and Python, others with Clojure and HTML5 languages. Less of PHP, used primarily for server-side logic.

Spotify team utilizes C++ for Mac/Windows client, Java for Android and Objective-C for iOS applications, nothing new here. The main principle behind Spotify backend is partitioning by features. Each app feature has a team of developers assigned. To make an app like Spotify you would also need to link the JS and backend with so called ‘access point’.

We’ve also prepared a chart of broad architecture for audio streaming app like Spotify:

spotify-like app architecture

Backend development estimation: 200+ hours.

Related topic: How to make an app in 10 steps.

Android/iOS platforms

Now comes the most time-consuming and costly part of actual mobile app development. Developers you’ve hired would start programming a music app for Android, or a music app for iPhone. Our issue of how much does it cost to make an app like Spotify is resolved here.

Spotify Android SDK and Spotify iOS SDK are now available publicly. It aims to ease developers work a bit for features like music streaming and authentication. Though services like Android Multimedia Framework can help integrate audio/media files, you still can’t make it quick.

Here is our time estimate breakdown by features to make an app like Spotify:

Feature Android (hours) iOS (hours)
App skeleton 50 50
Main screen 60 55
Login 24 20
Registration 32 30
Music player 150 150
Search 80 80
Browse 60 60
Video player 150 150
Library 80 75
Artist 24 20
Album 24 20
Playlist 24 20
Advertisement 40 45
Downloading 24 25
Social integration 40 40
Settings 80 75
Push notifications 40 30

These are only essential features not to bore you with too many details.

Native platform development estimation: 1400 hours.

Conclusion: the cost

And now we are ready to reveal how much does it cost to make an app like Spotify. Note, we are outlining only a generalized estimation of costs, based on features and tech stack for a music streaming app. Also remember, we’ve used $50 hourly rate to evaluate the cost of Spotify-like app. Though, we have skilled app engineers to hire at $30 hourly rate at ThinkMobiles .

iOS application Android application App for multiple platforms
Backend $10.000 $10.000
Development $60.000 $70.000 $130.000
Design $8.000 $10.000 $20.000
Desktop app $5.000 $5.000
QA / PM $7.000 $10.000 $20.000
Total cost (approx.) $90.000 $105.000 $185.000

WIth all those variables in mind, a music app like Spotify would cost you:

  • $70.000 for MVP with basic functionality only
  • $90.000+ for iOS music streaming app
  • $105.000+ for Android app similar to Spotify
  • $185.000 for multi-platform full feature application.

In conclusion, the fact that $14 billion was floating around as Spotify acquisition deal says volumes. About the value as well as music streaming business prospects. Spotify alternatives are already on the march – Pandora, Deezer, iTunes, Soundcloud, Grooveshark, Google Play. Wouldn’t you want to join?

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