How do I keep music playing in the background on my Android?

Playing music in the background on Android devices is useful for listening to songs while using other apps, but it can be tricky to configure properly. Android has restrictions in place that pause background audio playback in certain situations to optimize battery life. However, there are ways to keep music persistently playing in the background on Android using music player apps, services, notifications, and other audio playback options.

In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of the background audio playback limitations in Android and several methods to keep music continuously playing in the background. We’ll cover using music player apps with background playback enabled, creating an Android service for persistent playback, using notifications to keep playback going, and leveraging ExoPlayer or Media Browser Service. We’ll also discuss techniques for getting around background restrictions and testing background audio playback.

Using a Music Player App

One of the easiest ways to play music in the background on an Android device is by using a music player app. Popular options like Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube Music allow you to listen to music while using other apps or when your phone screen is off. These streaming services offer both free, ad-supported tiers as well as paid premium options that provide features like offline listening.

Simply open your preferred music app, start playing a song or playlist, then switch to another app or lock your screen. The music will continue playing in the background. Most music apps include easy access playback controls in the notification shade, allowing you to pause, skip tracks, adjust volume and more without having to reopen the app.

Enabling Background Playback

One of the easiest ways to enable background audio is to adjust the settings in your music app. Most music and audio apps include a setting to allow audio playback to continue when the app is in the background or the screen is off.

To enable this in popular apps like Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, and others, open the app’s settings and look for an option like “Background audio”, “Background playback”, or “Keep audio playing when app is closed” and toggle it on. This will persist audio playback even when you leave the app.

Some apps may require a paid subscription for this feature. Apps like Spotify allow background audio for free on mobile, while YouTube Music requires a Premium subscription.

According to the Android developers documentation, apps need to request permission for background audio playback. So as long as the app developers have enabled this feature, it can be turned on in the app’s settings (source).

Using a Service

One way to keep music playing in the background on Android is by creating a background audio service. A service allows an app to perform long-running operations while not interacting with the user interface. Services can be started and stopped as needed, and continue running in the background even when the user switches to another app.

To play audio in the background, you can create a service that initializes the MediaPlayer class and handles audio playback. The service can bind to activities in your app so they can control music playback. By starting the service when your app starts, and stopping it when your app is destroyed, you can keep audio playing continuously.

An example of creating an audio service in Android can be found at this reference. The service manages connecting to MediaPlayer events, handling playback actions like play/pause, and responding to clients binding to it. This allows the UI and business logic to be separated from the audio playback code.

The main challenges with using a service are properly handling lifecycle events and performance. The service needs to monitor for actions like the user stopping playback, as well as correctly releasing resources when backgrounded. Performance tuning may also be needed for smooth audio playback depending on the device.

Persistent Notification

One way to keep music playing in the background on Android is to use a persistent notification with a foreground service. A foreground service displays a notification that cannot be dismissed by the user. This allows the music playback to continue uninterrupted even when the app is in the background or the screen is off.

To implement a foreground service, first create a notification channel and build a notification object. When starting the service, call startForeground() and pass the notification object. Android will then show this notification persistently while the service is running. The notification title and text should indicate that music playback is ongoing.

As per the Android documentation, “A foreground service performs some operation that is noticeable to the user. For example, an audio app would use a foreground service to play an audio track. Foreground services must display a Notification.” This ensures the user is aware that background processing is occurring.

The notification also enables the music playback to continue uninterrupted. As mentioned in the Android developer guide, “A foreground service is a service that’s considered to be something the user is actively aware of and thus not a candidate for the system to kill when low on memory.”

So using a persistent notification with a foreground service allows music playback to continue seamlessly in the background on Android. Just be sure the notification clearly conveys that playback is ongoing.


Exoplayer is a popular open source library developed by Google for media playback on Android. It provides a flexible framework for playing audio and video both in the foreground and background. Exoplayer can help enable continuous music playback in your Android app.

To implement background audio using Exoplayer, first add the Exoplayer dependency to your app-level build.gradle file. Then initialize an instance of SimpleExoPlayer, set it up with the appropriate renderers, and attach it to a MediaSession. Be sure to properly handle lifecycle events like onStop() to release resources when your app is backgrounded.

When playing audio, set the priority to Priority.HIGH to tell the system it should keep playing the audio stream even while in the background. You can also optionally show a persistent notification to give users playback controls. Exoplayer handles the audio focus changes and seamlessly keeps the music going.

See this Stackoverflow answer for a detailed code sample: ExoPlayer background audio with foreground video?

Media Browser Service

One way to keep music playing in the background on Android is by creating a media browser service. A media browser service allows media apps to discover, browse, and play media content provided by applications (according to this Reddit post). The media browser service runs in the background and is accessible to other apps through the MediaBrowserServiceCompat API.

To implement a media browser service, you need to extend the MediaBrowserServiceCompat class and override key methods like onGetRoot() and onLoadChildren(). The media browser service will then appear to other media apps as a source of browsable media content. By running this service in the background, you can continue playing music even when your app is not in the foreground.

One downside is that a persistent notification is required while the media browser service is running. But this allows the music playback to continue uninterrupted. Overall, implementing a media browser service is an effective way to keep music persistently playing in the background on Android.

Getting Around Restrictions

Recent versions of Android have imposed strict limits on background services and processes to improve device performance and battery life. However, this can make it challenging to keep music playing when the screen is off or the app is in the background. There are a few workarounds to get around these restrictions:

Use a music player designed for background playback – Apps like GoneMAD Music Player are optimized for continuous playback and implement persistent notifications and other techniques to keep running.

Try alternate service types -Foreground services are exempt from many limitations. Using a foreground service with a notification can allow more flexibility. Additionally, media browser services have fewer restrictions.

Exoplayer – The Exoplayer media library allows apps to leverage improvements in Android background handling. Using Exoplayer along with a foreground service provides robust playback.[1]

Test in the background – Thoroughly test background behavior across different Android versions. Constraints vary across OS versions and manufacturers. Account for Doze mode and App Standby to maintain playback.

Testing Background Audio

Once you have enabled background audio playback in your app, it is important to test that it is working properly. There are a few ways to confirm that background audio continues playing in your Android app:

One method is to simply begin playing audio in your app, then press the Home button to minimize the app. Listen to confirm the audio continues playing. You can also open another app while your app is minimized to ensure the audio persists.

Another option is to enable developer settings on your test device and turn on the “Don’t keep activities” option. This will destroy your activity as soon as it loses focus, providing a stricter test of background audio. With this enabled, background audio should continue even when your activity is destroyed.

You can also test receiving a phone call while audio is playing in your app. The audio should pause during the call, then resume automatically once the call ends. This confirms the system properly handles background audio focus.

For a more rigorous test, you can install profiling tools like the Android Profiler in Android Studio. This allows you to visually inspect threads and memory usage to confirm your background service is running and providing audio as expected.

Thoroughly testing background playback in different scenarios ensures your app provides a smooth listening experience even when not in the foreground.


In summary, there are a few main ways to keep music playing in the background on Android devices. The easiest options are to use a music player app with background playback enabled or a persistent notification. However, some apps restrict background audio, so more advanced options involve using an Exoplayer, Media Browser Service, or similar background audio service.

The optimal solution depends on your specific device and Android version. Older Android versions are generally more permissive of background audio. Newer versions require extra steps like notifications or background services. Testing different music apps can help determine which allows uninterrupted playback.

Overall, with the right music app or audio service, it is possible to keep music persistently playing in the background on Android. Just be prepared to try a few different options to find the best experience for your device. Persistent notifications or dedicated background audio services tend to provide the most robust long-term playback.

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