Everyone is privy to the joys of mobile music — the intersection of phones and MP3 players has afforded consumers the opportunity to carry around audible entertainment with more ease than ever before. But beyond the standard, owner-loaded music playing apps and the glitzy marquee streaming serves, there exists a level of essential music applications that are polished, functional, and most importantly, free. These five apps offer auxiliary features to foster discovery and incentivize use. If you’re a casual listener, or you just like to discover new things with minimal effort, these apps are an essential addition to your collection.
Available on: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Nokia
Have you ever been in the car or at a bar or a club and absolutely LOVED the song on the radio, with no way of finding out what it’s called and remembering it for later? You need what is perhaps the most popular free music discovery tool — Shazam — the program that listens to any song in the immediate ambient space and identifies it for the user. Shazam listens, identifies, and even stores your tags for later. Shazam is available for every major mobile platform, so there’s no excuse to be left in the dark next time. Certain television commercials even feature deals on products accessible only by Shazaming.
Available on: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Palm, Kindle, Nook
Pandora started the Music Genome Project back in 2000 — since then, their algorithmic categorization has blossomed into a full-fledged music recommendation platform, based on the user’s specifications. It’s no wonder Pandora’s radio app is one of the most popular free mobile tools for discovering music; it’s the most scientifically accurate recommendation system based on your input and years of research. A vital tool for any music lover.
Available on: iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Many music fans are probably familiar with the word “scrobbling” being applied to a variety of purposes, but Last.fm were the ones who invented the term. It refers to their app’s unique ability to chronicle your music choices across a variety of platforms and recommend more tunes and live concerts in your area. “Scrobbling” can track your song selection across things like the Amazon Cloud player, Spotify, and certain desktop audio players, and base its radio and concert recommendations on playlists from all of them.
Available on: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Nokia
TuneWiki is an app that attempts to make a specific component of a song — namely, the lyrics — into a social experience. It’s a social network built on lyrics. Listen to any music on your device with synced lyrics, share those lyrics with friends, and comment and discuss the meaning of them with anyone. It also translate the lyrics into 40+ languages. It also syncs with a desktop application.
Available on: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Kindle Fire
All this cold dead robot-DJ stuff kind of ruining your musical journey? For those itching to keep the experience of terrestrial radio (with disc jockeys and morning talk shows) as well as their own curated tastes, fret not. IHeartRadio seeks to fill the void of live personality radio with its streaming app, which brings over 1,000 live stations to your mobile device as well as customizable stations like Pandora. You can even save those stations to access offline. The app is operated by Clear Channel Broadcasting, the largest terrestrial radio organization in the country.
Did we miss any of your favorites? Is there something else you’d like your essential music app to do? Let us know in the comments.