We’re well into the streaming generation of media consumption with music downloads in the age of Spotify, and it’s starting to feel a bit like DVDs in the age of Netflix. With that said, there’s just something reassuring about having your music right there on your device without having to worry about the vagaries of bad Internet connections or keeping yourself entertained on long-haul flights. You probably want a music download app for your Android phone to download music to your device.
Here are our favorite music download apps for Android that won’t cost you a penny.
Note: several of these apps need to be downloaded from outside the Play Store and will require you to allow unknown sources on Android.
1. SoundCloud Downloader
Note: requires Xposed Framework and rooted Android device
Most of the apps in this list don’t require rooting or the Xposed Framework, but it’s a challenge to find an app that can download mixes and tracks from the popular music-streaming site SoundCloud.
The SoundCloud Downloader Xposed Module integrates right into the SoundCloud app, creating an extra option in the three-dot menu that lets you download whichever tracks you want. That’s all there is to it. It’s an extremely simple module to use, but if you don’t want the hassle of rooting your phone and installing the Xposed Framework, read on for our more easily-accessible apps.
While NewPipe still feels like a bit of a work in progress, it certainly does the job when it comes to downloading music. It’s open source and is constantly being improved. It now features support for SoundCloud, MediaCCC and FramaTube downloads as well.
By default, the app opens as a YouTube frontend. Simply select the video you want to download, then click the download icon at the top right and choose whether you want it downloaded as video or audio and what format you want it in.
To change over to SoundCloud, tap the menu icon at the top-left corner, then the big red “NewPipe” icon at the top, and select SoundCloud (beta).
One of the more elegant and official-looking music downloader apps, YMusic lets you play any YouTube video as an audio file, even letting you run it in the background on your phone.
The real kicker here is that you can also download videos as audio files. You have the option to download them in the M4A and MP3 formats, and it has a great library UI that subsequently lets you manage your music files just like you would in a music player app.
Of all the options on this list, YMusic is hands-down the most convenient (although you do have to download it from outside the Play Store) and most reliable. For those reasons it tops our list.
4. GTunes Music Downloader
An oldie but a goodie … like Tom Waits. GTunes searches through several big domains of downloadable music for your queries; you’ll find millions of artists and songs across generations. The search options are pretty rudimentary, so this is best used if you know exactly what songs you’re looking for and just want to get out there and download them.
Note that when we used the app of the four search engines, only “C” retrieved results, so try using that one before complaining that the whole thing doesn’t work! GTunes has its own built-in player, too, and even lets you trim your tunes and set songs as ringtones. It’s all pretty basic stuff but rounds it up to a decent little package.
The Play Store blurb for this is somewhat confusing, suggesting that you need to be some kind of member to enjoy this app. Just ignore that. The free version of SONGily is ad-supported and has access to a healthy stockpile of music new and old, from artists both mainstream and obscure, from chart music to sea shanties. (It’s true, I found shanties from Assassin’s Creed IV here.) With each song you find, you’ll see options to both play and download the songs you listen to, and they recently added a feature that lets you download videos as well.
This is exactly the kind of app that I can imagine Google not liking too much, so don’t be too surprised if it disappears from the Play Store and you find yourself having to download it manually.
Sometimes the best apps for your free music downloads are those which aren’t even designed specifically for that purpose. TubeMate is an app that lets you download YouTube videos in a number of formats, including audio only. As you’re probably aware, YouTube is one of the best places to listen to your favorite music, and thanks to TubeMate, it’s one of the best places to download that music, too.
You can download TubeMate here (Google doesn’t allow this in the Play Store, presumably because it encroaches on YouTube), and when you try to download videos as audio (M4A or MP3), you’ll also get prompted to download MP3 Video Converter, which syncs with TubeMate to convert video to audio.
The famous file-sharing repository 4Shared has been making the rounds on PC for years, and it’s proven to be a huge hit on Android as well. Again, this isn’t designed just for music, as users can upload whatever files they want to it, but it’s as good for finding music as anything else. (There’s even an option to search specifically for music files.)
If you want to know that the music you’re downloading isn’t going to be infringing on any copyright, and you are also open to checking out emerging talent in the Hip-Hop, Electronic and Reggae arenas, then give Audiomack a try.
This app gives a platform to artists without official distribution outlets while still having a content-filtering system in place to make sure the stuff on there is of good quality. This good-willed project has already propelled hip-hop stars like T-Wayne, Fetty Wap and Migos to record label deals and gives you a chance to help find the next big star.
Looking for more apps to play around with on Android? How about a list of the best Android screen-recording apps, or if you want to test your whitehat skills, here’s a list of some of the best Android hacking apps.