How much does it cost to build an app like Spotify

Life is somehow like a movie. Don't all of us have music playing in the background when something special happens? People tend to associate certain individuals or events with particular songs. Music became everyone's universal comrade that follows wherever we go. Only half a decade ago an iPod with couple hundreds of favorites was enough, but today the development of internet connection speed has changed the demand for music and resulted in the raising popularity of music streaming apps.

Having over 75 million users, Spotify is the most popular among them. What is the reason behind its popularity and how to make a music app like Spotify? These are the topics of our article.

What is Spotify?

In short, Spotify is a video and music streaming app that allows users to browse for any song, artist, album or genre. Users can share favorite tracks, add them to playlists or even collaborate with their friends to create compilations.

The Spotify app was launched back in October 2008. The idea behind it belongs to two friends, Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, that came up with it sitting in the nearly empty apartment in Stockholm, Sweden. It provides access to all music in the world anywhere anytime.

The benefits of online music streaming are clear:
- Quick access

- Affordability

- Unlimited storage

- Social engagement

Spotify offered an inexpensive alternative to piracy. Monthly subscription does not cost much, so users can enjoy their favorite tracks and give credit to artists at the same time.

Cost forming factors of building a music streaming app

The Rome wasn't built in a day, and the same thing is with an application. There is a long process involves into creating a music streaming app. In brief, it looks like this:
1
Planning and estimating
2
Finding tech crew
3
Getting licensed
4
Developing features
Let's take a closer look at each of these stages.

PLANNING



Before getting down to developing a music app, prepare the planned concept of the project. Try out the main competitors, check out what is so special about them and how to outrun it.

Of course, not all niches in the audio streaming industry are taken, but you have to study what people are going to use your product. What is their age? How do they live? Why do they need you? Tailor the application's features and design to match the needs of your target audience.

FINDING TECH CREW



When you finally have a vision of what is your product going to be, it's time to locate the team that will build it for you. There are lots of factors (e.g. rates, location, language and time zone differences, etc.) to consider while setting down with one company.

In case you want to roughly estimate how much does it cost to build an app like Spotify, use the average rates per region given below:

  • North America
  • Western Europe
  • Eastern Europe
  • Asia

Pay attention to the project history of the company. Do they have relevant experience in making online streaming applications? Is their reputation any good? You can go as far as checking out their applications in App Store and Play Market.

Read more on outsourcing your app development:

DESIGNING APP



When you have found the team that is going to make your music streaming app, proceed to make wireframes for the project. The application's purpose has to be understandable. Every action and feature have to be straightforward and intuitive. Users love apps that are easy to use.

The time spent on making a prototype strongly depends on how thoroughly you thought on what you want from the finished product. Make sure to analyze your main competitors and learn from them. Pick up the best parts, and look at the app like a user would, not like the owner.

GETTING LICENSED



There is no way you will be able to take someone's composition and spread it everywhere simply. There are copyrights and legal procedures that should be followed. Otherwise, a lawsuit won't make you wait.

To provide users with high-quality audio or video content, you have to receive a Public Performance Rights license. In the USA, it is handled by three agencies: ASCAP.com, BMI.com or SESAC.com. Moreover, a particular share of revenues will have to be paid to artists as royalties for using their music.

DEVELOPING FEATURES


1
Authentification
Spotify utilizes the freemium business model, which requires the user to sign up before using a system, and what's more important, it lets them access the content for the trial period before purchasing a subscription. Also, Spotify is connected to Facebook and allows users to sign in through their account.
Developing this feature is going to require 24 hours of front-end time, and 16 hours to build the backend part.
2
Music streaming
The streaming method does not require the whole file to be downloaded. Actually, the audio is delivered in small "packets" for the data to be buffered into the device and instantly played. You have to make sure that the stream in steady and uninterrupted to hear the clear sound without any stops.
As for a simple MVP, it will take about 60-80 hours for front-end, and 50 hours for back-end part. However, building music streaming feature all-together is going to take about 600 hours (350 hours for front-end including caching, and 250 for back-end without scaling).
3
Search
Spotify allows users to choose among tons of playlists and select the one that suits their mood the best. Apart from it, users can search the track by artist, album or a particular genre.
MVP needs 50-60 hours to develop the front-end, and 50 hours for back-end.
4
Sharing music
The application has taken after a social network in giving the ability to see playlists of friends and share likes tracks with them.

Front-end: 5 hours per each platform
Back-end: 60 hours
5
Playlists
There is a whole team dedicated to creating relatable playlists suitable for a special occasion like having a road trip with a family or enjoying the party with friends. Moreover, users can set up their own music collections on their own, or together with their buddies. These playlists can be shared and popularized on Spotify.

Front-end: 40 hours
Back-end: 70 hours
6
Offline mode
This feature allows users to listen to their favorite songs without the internet connection. It uses the local storage of the device to cache the audio data.

Front-end: 40 hours
Back-end: 20 hours
The time needed to develop an MVP of a similar music streaming platform is going to take approximately 550-600 hours of working time. However, if you aim for the same quality and usability as in Spotify, multiply this number by 2 or 2.5.

Approximate overall cost of an MVP

Relying on the rough estimate in the table given above, we can say that the development of an average music streaming MVP is going to take the minimum of 530 hours (development time). So the sole development is going to cost around $16-20 grand. We covered only the essential features of music streaming app, and that is only the top of the iceberg. However, why is Spotify so successful?

Secret behind Spotify's success
(or why you won't make it)

Spotify has become so popular because it gives users what they want. It understands users' preferences by analyzing enormous amounts of collected data with the help of specially developed algorithms.

It is the long process of receiving the data on user and user's behavior together with creating algorithms for analyzing its every aspect.

To provide personalized user experience, companies offer their users to like or dislike songs they listen to. Whenever a user likes or dislikes a composition. The information is stored in the user's preferences section combined with the name of the artist, album, song, and more.
It is also possible to analyze what tracks the user has skipped, or what he has listened until the very end. It will also allow offering tracks that suit user's taste.

With time, the analysis will help improving user experience, but the cost of storing space and developing algorithms for analysis will require additional funding.
As the amount of users' data increases, you will have to think about improving or implementing new algorithms to better the system of music recommendations and daily discoveries.


Spotify, for instance, uses Echo Nest API, that utilizes data mining and machine learning technologies to collect information on what user listens to on a daily basis, what artists or songs are most or less favorite. This information is used to create personalized playlists for the user and his particular mood. It works on proposing suitable music for every moment of user's life.

Why it is nearly impossible to repeat Spotify's success


The streaming market is not as easy to enter as it may seem. Here at IDAP we get a lot of clients that want a Spotify-clone. However, despite that is simple on the tech side, there are a lot of processes involved that remind in the background. If you want to have a successful streaming application, you have to dig deeper where no one has dug before.

Spotify did not become famous in one day. They have spent nearly 5 years, acquired machine learning, created a system of algorithms that analyzes user's preferences and offers a playlist for a day.

Therefore, it would be difficult to compete with the giant of the music streaming industry. Instead of trying to success at something that is already made, try to find your own niche that will help people of a specific profession or interest.

Conclusion

Summing up, the initial cost of building a simple Spotify-like music streaming app starts from $16 000, and can only grow and grow some more. We at IDAP have no problem in building the technical part of any streaming application, both video and audio.
However, no matter how much money you invest into another Spotify clone, the probability of its success is very low. The magic of Spotify is unique and not cloneable. It is something that cannot be technically built, as it is driven by idea.

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