What is the app that plays music in the background?

What is a Background Music App?

A background music app is an application for mobile devices that plays music in the background while allowing the user to simultaneously interact with other apps on their phone or tablet. The key feature of these apps is the ability to listen to audio tracks continuously while performing other tasks like texting, gaming, browsing the web, or using productivity apps.

Unlike streaming music apps like Spotify or Apple Music which take over the device’s audio, background music apps mix their audio with the system audio output. This allows their music playback to be layered under other sounds from the device without stopping. For example, background music won’t pause when receiving a notification or phone call. The music simply continues uninterrupted, acting as a soundtrack to whatever else the user is doing.

Some popular background music apps for iOS and Android include Anthm, AudioPocket, CloudBeats, and many others. These apps provide curated playlists and radio stations across various genres and moods that users can play in the background to enhance their daily mobile experiences.

Top Background Music Apps

Some of the most popular apps for listening to background music include:

Spotify – Spotify is one of the most widely used streaming music platforms. It offers a huge music library and the ability to create playlists for any mood or activity. Spotify has a free version with ads, and a paid Premium version without ads starting at $9.99 per month (Source).

Apple Music – For iPhone users, Apple Music integrates directly into iOS and offers streaming from a catalog of over 90 million songs. Like Spotify, Apple Music has a free tier with ads and paid subscription plans starting at $9.99 per month. It allows downloading music for offline listening (Source).

Amazon Music – Amazon Music comes free for Amazon Prime members and gives access to 2 million songs ad-free. The premium Unlimited plan unlocks over 90 million songs and podcasts for $7.99 per month. Downloads are available for offline listening (Source).

Google Play Music – Google’s music app allows uploading personal song collections to the cloud. It also gives access to millions of tracks to stream or download. Google Play Music costs $9.99 per month after a free trial (Source).

Pandora – Pandora pioneered the music recommendation radio model. It creates customized stations based on artists or songs you enter. The free version has ads, while Pandora Plus costs $4.99 per month with no ads. Pandora Premium unlocks on-demand listening for $9.99 per month (Source).

How Background Music Apps Work

Background music apps are designed to keep playing audio even when the app is no longer in the foreground. This allows you to listen to music continuously while using other apps on your device. The key to this functionality is properly handling audio focus in Android and AVAudioSession in iOS.

When a background music app starts, it will request audio focus from the operating system. This allows it to play audio over any other apps by default. When another app requests audio focus, like a video call, the background audio will automatically duck its volume or pause. Once the other app releases audio focus, the background audio resumes at normal volume.

Background audio apps also handle operating system interrupts like phone calls and notifications to duck or pause audio as needed. Special sessions like AVAudioSession allow the background audio to continue playing at a reduced volume during interrupts while another app uses the audio output.

Properly managing audio focus and audio sessions is what gives background music apps transparent, uninterrupted playback while using other apps. The audio keeps playing until the user closes the app fully or the device is restarted.

Benefits of Listening to Music While Working/Studying

Listening to music while working or studying can provide several benefits that boost productivity, focus, and mental health. Multiple studies have shown that background music can increase focus and improve cognitive functioning.

One key benefit is that music helps increase focus and productivity. According to research from Indeed.com, employees who listen to music while working are more productive as music aids memory retention and ability to focus (Source). Additionally, listening to music while working from home creates a pleasant environment that boosts productivity levels, as noted in an article on LinkedIn (Source).

Listening to music also elevates mood and reduces stress. Studies show that even heavy metal or rock music can relax the mind and body by lowering stress hormone levels (Source). Background music provides a positive distraction that can make repetitive or mundane tasks more enjoyable.

For students studying, music can help improve focus and information retention. The right type of music can act as a stimulant that boosts alertness and attention span. Students able to study with music in the background may experience improved memorization and better exam performance.

Considerations When Selecting a Background Music App

There are several key factors to consider when choosing a background music app:

Library Size – A larger library gives you more options to find the perfect background music for your needs. Look for apps that provide thousands of tracks across various genres like ambient, acoustic, electronic, jazz, etc. Cloud Cover Music recommends choosing an app with at least 100,000 tracks.

Playlists – Pre-made playlists can help you quickly find music for specific activities like studying, relaxing, working out, etc. Some apps like Epidemic Sound curate playlists for different moods and uses.

Offline Listening – Being able to download tracks for offline listening is essential if you won’t always have an internet connection. Make sure the app allows saving music locally.

Price – Subscription plans, one-time purchases, free tiers, etc. Compare pricing models to find one that fits your budget. Free apps like iMovie offer limited libraries while paid services provide more features.

Platform Support – Choose an app that works across your desired platforms like iOS, Android, desktop, etc. for seamless listening everywhere.

Controlling Background Audio

One of the key features of background music apps is the ability to control the audio playback. This includes adjusting the volume, skipping tracks, play/pause, and other playback controls.

Most apps allow you to set the volume level of the background audio separately from your device’s main volume. This way you can have the music quiet enough to not be distracting while still loud enough to hear. Apps like FilmoraGo have options to adjust volume incrementally for precision.

Playback controls like play, pause, and skip are essential when using a background music app. You’ll likely want to pause the music when recording audio or talking on the phone. Playback controls let you quickly pause and resume without fully exiting the app. Skipping tracks is helpful for when a distracting or unpleasant song comes on.

Advanced apps allow individual volume control and playback options for each open application. This way you can have louder or different music for creative tasks versus focused work. Overall, control over background audio volume and playback provides versatility when using these apps.

Background Music vs Streaming Music

When choosing a background music app, one of the key considerations is whether to use a streaming service or music you own and have downloaded. Streaming services like Spotify and Amazon Music offer access to vast libraries of music through a monthly subscription. This allows you to easily find a wide variety of playlists and songs to use as background music without having to purchase individual tracks or albums.

However, streaming does use mobile data or WiFi. According to SoundGuys, streaming Spotify on “Normal” quality uses up to 150MB per hour which can add up over time. So streaming large amounts of background music may lead to extra data usage charges depending on your mobile plan. Downloading owned music avoids this issue.

Purchasing and downloading select albums or playlists from services like iTunes or Bandcamp allows you to own that music and listen without needing an internet connection. This gives you full control and avoids streaming large amounts of data. However, you have access to less variety and have to manually manage your music library.

Ultimately it comes down to your data limits and how much variety you need. For occasional background music, owned music may be best. But streaming services provide more flexibility to change up your playlists regularly.

Using Background Music Legally

When using background music in an app, it’s important to be aware of licensing and copyright laws. Many popular songs are copyrighted, which means you need permission from the rights holder to use them legally. There are a few options for legally using background music:

Get a direct license from the artist or record label. This allows you to use their music directly in your app. However, licenses can be expensive and time-consuming to obtain for multiple songs.1

Use production music libraries. These provide pre-cleared music that can be licensed for commercial use. Prices are usually more affordable than direct licenses. Popular production music libraries include AudioJungle, PremiumBeat, and Soundstripe.2

Use royalty-free music. This also provides pre-cleared music for commercial use, often at lower costs. But the selection may be more limited. Some sources for royalty-free music are Bensound, Free Music Archive, and Incompetech.

When using any background music, be sure to follow the terms of the license agreement. Provide proper attribution if required. Using copyrighted materials without permission can lead to legal action, even for background music in apps.

Top Background Music Playlists

When selecting a playlist to listen to in the background while working, studying, or relaxing, the type of music can greatly impact focus and productivity. Here are some of the top playlists tailored for different needs:

For increased focus:

  • Lo-fi hip hop – Relaxing beats with minimal lyrics for tuning out distractions. Many lo-fi playlists on Spotify and YouTube.
  • Acoustic music – Gentle guitar or piano melodies without overpowering vocals. Try the Acoustic Concentration playlist on Spotify.
  • Nature sounds playlists combine gentle background music with rain, ocean waves, bird sounds, etc. Search Spotify or YouTube.

For creative focus:

  • Upbeat instrumental music gives energy without distracting lyrics. Check out the Focus Flow playlist on Spotify.
  • Movie or video game soundtracks designed to enhance focus while screenwriting, coding, or art. Many options on streaming platforms.

For relaxation:

  • Spa music with gentle piano, nature sounds, and ambient chill vibes. Peaceful Piano on Spotify.
  • Soothing vocals like acoustic covers of popular songs. Covers Unplugged on Spotify.

For parties:

  • Top hits and remixes from multiple genres keeps guests happy. Check Today’s Top Hits on Spotify.
  • Throwbacks and classics everyone will sing along to. Search “throwback party” playlists.

For sleep:

  • Nature sounds, rain, ocean waves, or ambient noise blocks distractions. Many sleep playlist options on Spotify and YouTube.
  • Calming piano, guitar, or light jazz gives a soothing mood. Try Sleep playlist on Spotify.

For studying:

  • Focus-enhancing playlists like lo-fi hip hop, acoustic, or soundtracks. Search “study music” on any platform.
  • Nature sounds provide ambient noise without lyrics. Rain or coffee shop background noise works well.

With countless curated playlists on streaming platforms, it’s easy to find the perfect background music to enhance any mood or activity.

The Future of Background Music Apps

Background music apps are poised to integrate more advanced technologies like AR, VR, AI curation, and voice control in the coming years. According to a16z, generative AI will have a major impact on the music industry, with new apps using AI to create personalized and adaptive music experiences https://a16z.com/the-future-of-music-how-generative-ai-is-transforming-the-music-industry/.

Apps may leverage AR and VR to detect a user’s environment and activity, and then generate appropriate background music to match. This could create more immersive audio experiences. AI curation will also allow apps to learn a user’s music taste and preferences, and recommend highly personalized playlists and stations without any input needed.

Voice control is another area of expansion, providing hands-free ways to manage background audio. Users may be able to request certain songs, adjust volume, or skip tracks just by speaking. As technology advances, background music apps will likely shift towards more adaptive, intelligent, and multi-sensory experiences.

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