Why does my music app take up so much space?

Why Music Apps Eat Up Storage Space

It’s frustrating when you realize your music app is taking up gigabytes of storage space on your phone. With limited onboard storage on most devices, many users find their music app can quickly eat up a large chunk of available space without warning.

In this article, we’ll explore the main reasons why music apps like Apple Music, Spotify, and others can take up so much storage, even if you don’t have that much music saved locally.

App Size

The base app code itself requires storage space on a device. A music app contains program code that allows it to play audio files, access playlists, stream from the internet, and provide all the functionality users expect. More complex apps with additional features will have larger base install sizes than simpler apps. For example, Spotify’s mobile app is around 150MB on Android while more lightweight music players like Winamp are under 50MB.

Popular streaming music apps today like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music tend to require at least 100MB or more when first installed. This is because they contain code to handle music playback, offline caching, social features, recommendations, metadata processing, video support, and more. Simple music players with just basic playback functionality can potentially be under 10MB.

So while the base app itself may not take up tons of storage, modern feature-rich music apps have grown in size over the years as users expect more functionality. The app code that enables all this consumes device storage on top of any music files cached or downloaded.

Cached Music Files

Music apps like Apple Music and Spotify will locally cache or download songs you’ve recently played for quicker access without having to stream them over the internet each time (1). This allows you to listen to music smoothly even when you don’t have an internet connection. According to discussions on the Apple support forums, Apple Music can use around 500MB after just a day of usage as it begins caching your recently played tracks (2). The app continues storing these cached song files which can quickly add up, especially if you listen to the same playlists repeatedly. As noted on reddit, this caching behavior can result in Apple Music consuming over 30GB of storage space after extensive use (3).


(1) https://www.reddit.com/r/AppleMusic/comments/16l4ibk/why_is_apple_music_taking_up_33gb_of_storage/

(2) https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7108112

Download Settings

The download settings in music apps allow you to choose different quality options for streaming and downloading songs. Selecting a high bandwidth or high quality setting like “High,” “Extreme,” or “Lossless” will result in much larger file sizes.[1] This is because higher quality audio uses less compression and higher bitrates, which significantly increases the amount of data per song.

For example, a standard quality MP3 song may be around 5MB, while a high quality lossless audio file of the same song can be over 40MB.[2] So if your app is set to use lossless or HD quality audio, the amount of storage space used will increase dramatically.

Other enhanced audio formats like Dolby Atmos also require more storage space when enabled. Atmos adds spatial and surround sound data to songs, so a standard MP3 track becomes much larger with the Atmos metadata added.

Check your app’s audio settings and experiment with reducing the download quality. This should decrease the size of cached/downloaded songs and reduce the overall storage space used.

Album Art & Metadata

One factor that contributes to the storage space used by music apps is album art and track metadata that gets downloaded with each song. While each image or text file may be small, collectively this additional data can build up and take up a meaningful amount of storage.

For each track downloaded, the app will store album artwork, title and artist information, genre tags, playback data, and other metadata. This allows the app to display images, track info, playlists, and more. But each piece of metadata takes up space on your device storage.

According to LG, issues can arise when metadata files become too large, such as song information failing to appear when playing music [1]. So there are practical limits on metadata size that music apps must adhere to.

While small on their own, multiplied by thousands of tracks these metadata files contribute to the overall storage footprint of the music app.

Offline Playback

One major factor that contributes to music apps taking up significant storage space is the ability to play music offline without an internet connection. To enable this offline playback capability, songs and playlists must be downloaded and stored locally on your device. According to Spotify’s support article, they recommend having at least 1GB of free storage for their app [1]. Even just a few playlists intended for offline listening can quickly add up and eat into your available storage.

For example, if each song averages around 3.5MB as noted on Quora [2], storing 10 playlists with 50 songs each for offline use would require around 1.75GB of device storage. So if you are an avid user of offline playback features in your music apps, the locally stored audio files can accumulate and ultimately result in the app taking up significant storage real estate compared to other apps on your phone or tablet.

User Music Libraries

Many people store their personal music libraries in apps. Large collections, especially lossless audio, can take up significant storage.1 The average size of a personal music library is around 5,000 songs.2

With lossless formats like FLAC, each song can be 30-50MB. So a 5,000 song collection could take up 150-250GB. Even highly compressed formats like MP3 use 3-5MB per song. Users with large libraries of tens of thousands of songs may find their app storage quickly filled up.

There are a few solutions users can take to reduce the storage footprint of their music libraries. Using a streaming service and downloading selectively can help. Optimizing download settings to use smaller file sizes is another option. Manually deleting the cached audio for tracks the user doesn’t listen to frequently can also free up space.

Music Videos

Streaming and downloading music videos uses significantly more data and storage than audio alone. Brief 30-second clips can easily be 25-50MB, while a 5-minute music video may be 80MB or more depending on the resolution. High definition 1080p videos take up the most space.

According to forum discussions, reducing video file sizes significantly without losing quality is difficult. Even with compression, music videos will be much larger than audio files for the same length of content. For example, a 3-minute compressed video may still be 90% the size of the original file.

Given the large file sizes, storing an extensive offline music video library or caching numerous videos will quickly use up storage space on a mobile device. This is especially true as video resolution continues to increase. Managing video storage and limiting cached content can help reduce overall app size.

Caching from Streaming

One factor that contributes to the large storage footprint of music apps is the caching of streamed music. When you listen to music through streaming, the songs are temporarily stored in a cache on your device so they can play instantly when requested and not have to be streamed again. This cache can gradually build up over time as you continue to use streaming services.

This type of caching from streaming is often overlooked compared to downloading music for offline playback. But as noted on Reddit, streaming caches can grow quite large over time, with some users reporting caches of over 10GB from Spotify streaming alone (source). While downloaded music is a more obvious source of storage usage for apps like Spotify, the cached data from streaming can quietly take up significant device storage as well.


In summary, music apps can take up significant storage space due to cached music files, album art, metadata, and offline playback capabilities. Even with streaming services, the app needs to cache songs for quick playback which can amount to gigabytes of data over time. Old cached music files that are no longer needed can build up and should be cleared out periodically to free up space.

There are ways to limit how much space the app uses, like enabling optimize storage and setting a maximum cache size. However, the tradeoff is that more frequent re-downloading of songs may be required. Completely turning off offline playback and removing downloads can reduce the app size but loses key functionality.

Overall, while music apps require substantial storage for an optimal experience, users can manage the space with cleaning tools, limiting downloads, and only keeping music cached that is regularly needed offline. Checking app size periodically and optimizing settings can help strike the right balance between keeping plenty of music available while minimizing the storage footprint.

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