Can I play music from a USB stick to my Android phone?

A USB stick, also known as a USB flash drive, is a small removable storage device that plugs into a USB port. USB sticks are commonly used to store and transfer files, such as documents, photos, videos, and music, between devices. Audio files for music are generally in formats like MP3, WAV, FLAC, M4A, etc.

Many Android phones have USB ports and support USB On-the-Go (USB OTG), allowing users to connect external USB devices like keyboards, game controllers, and USB sticks. With a USB OTG cable or adapter, you can plug a USB stick loaded with music files directly into your Android phone. This article introduces how to play music files stored on a USB stick using your Android phone.


Connecting a USB Stick to an Android Phone

To connect a USB stick or flash drive to an Android phone, you need an adapter or OTG (On-The-Go) cable. Most modern Android phones support USB On-The-Go which allows you to connect USB accessories like flash drives, keyboards, game controllers, and more directly to your device.

The most straightforward way is to use a USB OTG adapter. This is a small adapter with a female full-size USB port on one side and a male micro USB or USB-C connector on the other side to plug into your Android phone. Simply plug your flash drive into the adapter, connect it to your phone, and you’re ready to access the files on the drive.

For example:

“Connect a flash drive (or SD reader with card) to the full-size USB female end of the adapter.” (Source)

Instead of an adapter, you can also use an OTG cable that has full-size USB on one end and micro USB or USB-C on the other end to connect directly. This combines the adapter and cable into one. An OTG cable is convenient if you plan to regularly connect USB devices to your Android phone.

Once connected via OTG cable or adapter, the phone should recognize the USB drive and prompt you to open it in the File Manager app. We’ll cover accessing files in more detail next.

Enabling USB OTG on Android

USB OTG (USB On-The-Go) allows Android devices to act as a USB host, so they can connect to external USB devices like flash drives, keyboards, game controllers, etc. To use a USB device with your Android phone, you first need to enable USB OTG support.

USB OTG support needs to be enabled in your phone’s settings. The steps vary slightly depending on your Android device brand and model, but generally involve:

  • Going into Settings > Connections > USB Settings
  • Toggle on “USB OTG”

On Samsung Galaxy devices, enable “USB Accessories” in Connections. For Huawei devices, enable “OTG Connection” in the Advanced Settings. You may need to reboot your phone after enabling USB OTG. If you don’t see an OTG setting, your device may not support USB OTG functionality.[1]

Once enabled, connect your USB flash drive or accessory to your phone’s USB port. Most Android devices will automatically detect the connected device and prompt you to take action like opening a file manager. If your phone doesn’t automatically detect the USB device, you may need to reboot your phone or double-check if USB OTG was enabled properly.

Supported Audio Formats

Android generally supports common audio formats like MP3, AAC, FLAC, and more when playing back audio files from external USB storage. According to the Android developers documentation, the following audio formats are commonly supported:

  • MP3 – Mono or stereo, bitrates up to 320 kbps
  • AAC – Mono or stereo, bitrates up to 320 kbps
  • FLAC – Lossless compression format
  • OGG – Free open source container format
  • WAV – Uncompressed PCM audio
  • MIDI – Musical Instrument Digital Interface format

Support can vary across Android versions and device manufacturers. For example, Android 10 added support for MPEG-4 containers like .mp4 and .m4a files. The Android developers documentation provides a detailed matrix of supported formats across Android versions.

Using a File Manager App

A file manager app provides an easy way to browse and open files stored on a connected USB drive. Once the drive is connected via an OTG cable, a file manager will show the drive and its folder structure. From there, you can navigate to music files like MP3s and open them directly within the app. Many file manager apps like USB OTG File Manager and USB OTG File Manager have built-in music players to play songs right from the USB drive.

The advantage of using a dedicated file manager app is that they are optimized for browsing external drives and have extra features for handling music files. This includes album art, playlists, queue management, equalizers and more. They allow you to easily play music in the background while using other apps. Most file manager apps are free or inexpensive on the Google Play Store.

So in summary, a capable file manager app provides a handy interface for accessing music on a connected USB drive and playing it directly on an Android smartphone. With the USB connectivity and file management combined in one app, it offers a seamless way to listen to music collection stored on a USB stick.

Using a Music Player App

There are many great music player apps for Android that support playing audio files directly from external USB storage. Some popular options include:

HiBy Music – HiBy Music is designed for high quality audio playback and supports a wide range of formats including FLAC, WAV, etc. It can access music files on external SD cards and USB drives.

BlackPlayer – BlackPlayer is a highly customizable Android music player that lets you browse and play music files stored on external SD cards or USB drives. The Ex version unlocks additional features.

USB Audio Player PRO – This app is designed for bit-perfect audio playback from USB DACs and supports Hi-Res formats. You can point it to music files on external storage.

These music players either detect external storage automatically or provide options to select SD card or USB drive as the audio source. They support common formats like MP3, FLAC, WAV, etc. Overall, there are many great choices for playing music directly from USB storage on Android.

Transferring Files to Internal Storage

Once you have connected your USB stick to your Android phone and enabled USB OTG, you can transfer music files from the USB stick to your phone’s internal storage for playback. Here are the steps:

Open the File Manager app on your Android phone. Locate the USB drive under “Storage devices” or “External storage.” Navigate to the folder containing your music files. Select the files you want to transfer and tap the copy icon.

Next, navigate to the Music folder on your phone’s internal storage. This is often in a Downloads or Media folder. Paste the music files into this folder.

Alternatively, you can use the built-in Android File Transfer application if you are connecting your Android phone to a computer via USB. This allows you to simply drag and drop files between the USB drive, computer and phone storage. See this Google support article for details.

Once transferred, you can access the music files from your Android phone’s music player app and add them to playlists. The files will remain in internal storage even when the USB drive is disconnected. This provides a convenient way to load music onto your phone from an external USB source.

Spotify and Other Streaming

One option for listening to music from a USB drive on your Android phone is to use offline downloads from streaming services like Spotify. Spotify allows Premium subscribers to download playlists, albums, and podcasts for offline listening (Source). These downloaded songs can then be transferred to a USB drive and played directly through your Android phone.

To do this, first download your desired Spotify content while connected to the internet on your phone. Next, connect your USB drive and use a file manager app to copy the Spotify files from internal storage to the drive. Make sure to copy the entire Spotify folder if downloading playlists or albums. Finally, disconnect from the internet so streaming is disabled, connect your USB drive, and open Spotify to play the downloaded content (Source).

Other streaming services like Tidal, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, and Pandora also allow offline downloads for premium subscribers. The process is similar – download content, transfer to USB drive, then play offline. This gives you access to your streaming library when internet connectivity is limited.

Troubleshooting Tips

If you are having issues playing music from a USB stick on your Android device, here are some troubleshooting tips to try:

– Check that USB OTG is enabled on your device. Go to Settings > Additional Settings > Developer Options and enable USB debugging. Some devices may require you to download an OTG enabler app. (Source)

– Try connecting your USB stick to a different port on your Android device. Some devices may only support USB OTG on certain ports.

– Make sure your USB stick is formatted correctly. It should be formatted as FAT32 or exFAT for maximum compatibility.

– Verify that your music files are in a supported audio format. Common formats like MP3, AAC, FLAC, etc. should work. Unsupported formats may not play.

– Reboot your Android device and try reconnecting the USB stick. This can reset any connection issues.

– Try a different USB stick and cable. A damaged or faulty USB device could cause playback problems.

– Check for updates to your Android version and music player app. Updates sometimes address USB audio issues.

– As a last resort, you can transfer files from the USB to your device’s internal storage for playback. This eliminates any USB connection issues.


In summary, yes, you can play music from a USB stick on an Android phone. Here’s a quick recap of how:

  • Enable USB OTG support on your Android device in Settings if needed.
  • Use a file manager app to access the files on your USB stick.
  • Open a music player app and navigate to the USB music files to play them.
  • Alternatively, transfer the files to internal storage first before playing.
  • Make sure your USB stick and audio files are compatible formats supported by Android.

With the proper setup and apps, listening to music stored on external USB drives is easy on most modern Android phones. While streaming services like Spotify are popular, having your own music collection on a USB stick gives you more control and options for listening offline.

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