How to Plan the Cost of Developing Music Streaming Apps


Creating an effective budget for your music streaming app development is crucial to achieving your goals on time and within budget. However, accurately projecting costs for a custom app can be challenging due to the many variables that affect expenses. This guide aims to simplify the cost-planning process by providing strategies and considerations to help you create a thorough yet realistic budget to create an audio streaming app.


We will discuss various approaches you can take to estimate costs, ranging from top-down estimates based on industry averages to bottom-up costing that breaks down individual tasks and functions. We’ll cover the key cost components you should include in your budget plans, such as development expenses, music licensing fees, infrastructure costs and ongoing maintenance. We’ll also highlight factors that influence development costs, like the number and complexity of features, the technologies used, and the size and skills of your development team. The insights and best practices in this guide will help you avoid underestimating or overestimating costs for your project.


A brief overview of the music streaming app industry


Music streaming apps have become incredibly popular in recent years. They allow users to listen to practically any song on demand in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. Some of the biggest music streaming services include Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, and Pandora.


Streaming services make billions of dollars in revenue each year through subscriptions and advertisements. In 2019, Spotify had over 124 million subscribers paying $9.99 a month on average. Apple Music had over 60 million paid subscribers in 2019. According to official data, Spotify has 515 million monthly active users as of Q1 2023.


Music streaming apps have transformed how people listen to and discover music. Users can build personalized playlists and radio stations based on their preferences. The apps give listeners access to millions of songs instantly from any device with an internet connection. They have also allowed smaller, independent artists to reach wider audiences and generate revenue from streaming royalties.


While revenue from subscription fees and ads has grown exponentially, artists and record labels argue that they receive an unfairly small portion of the revenue. On average, artists receive around $0.006 – $0.0084 per stream. This has fueled debates over how streaming royalties should be distributed.


The music streaming app industry continues to grow rapidly and compete for listeners, with music streaming app development services regularly adding new features and exclusive content. The pandemic and related lockdowns in 2020 likely accelerated this growth as people spent more time at home listening to music. It remains to be seen how the widespread availability of vaccinations and a return to normal activity will impact streaming usage going forward.


Importance of cost planning in app development


Cost planning is an essential part of app development that helps determine the overall budget and ensure a project remains on budget. Without proper cost planning, app development projects can easily go over budget and become too expensive.


Accurate cost planning requires estimating how much time and resources will be needed for each part of the music-streaming app development process. This includes designing features, developing the codebase, testing the app, and marketing. Costs of things like software licenses and cloud infrastructure must also be considered.


There are several types of costs involved in app development. Direct costs are things like salaries for music app developers, designers, and testers. Indirect costs include office rent, utilities, and equipment. Other variable costs depend on the complexity of the app, such as how many features it will have and how much storage and bandwidth it will require.


Proper cost planning allows businesses to create a realistic budget for their app, identify areas where costs can be reduced, and avoid cost overruns during development. It helps set the scope of the project to match the available budget. For example, businesses can decide to start with fewer features that cost less to develop.


Cost planning also lets businesses predict the return on investment of an app to see if it will be profitable. This includes estimating how many users the app will have and how much revenue it will generate through subscriptions, in-app purchases, or advertising.


Steps to Plan the Cost of Developing Music streaming apps


Developing a music streaming app requires careful cost planning to ensure a successful project launch. The following are some key steps to effectively plan the costs to create an audio streaming app:


Market Research and Analysis


Market research is important for companies. It helps them make better business decisions about new products, marketing, and growth chances. Companies do market research by talking to customers, looking at sales data, surveying people, watching competitors, and interviewing experts. The goal is to learn what customers want, what problems they have, what they buy, and why they buy it.


The market analysis evaluates the size and potential of the market to create an audio streaming app. It looks at trends, what is driving demand, and growth opportunities. Types of market analysis include an industry analysis of the whole market size, a competitive analysis to compare competitors, a SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and a segmentation analysis that divides the market into groups.


Market research and analysis provide a foundation for companies. The information helps them decide what makes them different and which customers to focus on. It can also help set goals, choose how to sell products, and what prices to charge.


Defining Project Scope


Defining the scope of a project is crucial for success. It establishes the boundaries of what work will and will not be done as part of the project. A clear scope helps set expectations, budgets, and timelines. It also serves as a baseline for evaluating project performance and impacts.

To define the project scope, gather requirements from stakeholders through interviews, questionnaires, and workshops. Document all identified tasks, deliverables, limitations, and assumptions. Create a scope statement that clearly outlines what is and is not included in the project. Some examples of what to define in the scope are project goals and objectives, deliverables, and specifications. It also includes responsibilities, priorities, costs, risks, constraints, acceptance criteria, metrics, and change management processes.


Validate the scope by getting approval from key stakeholders. Make sure there is a shared understanding of what the project will achieve, what trade-offs were agreed upon to meet budget and schedule needs, and what success looks like. Monitor the scope throughout the project and manage changes formally using the change management process.


Hiring a Development Team


Hiring the right development team is critical for building a successful app. The process starts with defining the skills and roles you need. For an app, this typically includes a music streaming app development company, backend API developer, designer, and tester at minimum. You may also need additional roles like data scientists and DevOps engineers depending on your app’s complexity.


Once you have identified the necessary roles, you can begin searching for candidates. Post job ads on platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, and tech-specific communities. Screen resumes carefully to check for relevant skills and experience. Shortlist the most qualified candidates and conduct initial phone interviews to assess personality fit, communication skills, and understanding of requirements.


For the final candidates, conduct in-person or video interviews and have them complete practical coding challenges or take-home assignments. Check references and confirm the experience. When making offers, negotiate competitive salaries and equity packages to attract the best talent. Have new hires sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and transfer intellectual property rights to protect your app idea.


Estimating Development Costs


Accurately estimating costs is crucial for ensuring your music streaming app development budget is realistic. There are two main approaches: top-down and bottom-up costing.

Top-down costing uses industry averages based on similar past projects to come up with an initial budget estimate. While quick, it’s often imprecise due to differences in features, technologies, and team skills.


Bottom-up costing involves a more granular breakdown of tasks and their estimated hours and costs. For an app, this includes designing features and wireframes, developing the front-end and back-end, testing, and anything extra like user acquisition marketing. Estimate hours and costs for each task based on team members’ salaries and other expenses. Add a buffer of around 30% for uncertainties to get the final estimate.


Other factors that affect costs are the number and complexity of features, the technologies used like platforms, databases, and frameworks, the number of team members and their skills, and the project timeline. Costs also vary widely depending on where the team is based. For the most accurate estimate, combine top-down and bottom-up costing. Start with industry averages, then drill down into the specific tasks for your app.        


Creating a Development Plan


Creating a development plan is crucial for building a successful app. The plan to create a music streaming app outlines the timeline, milestones, resources, and tasks needed to move from idea to finished product. It ensures everyone is aligned on the project objectives, scope, and priorities.


A good development plan starts with defining the product vision and requirements. Identify key features, functionality, design needs, and performance goals. Break down high-level tasks into specific development stages like planning, designing, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance. Assign owners to each task and estimate timelines.


The next step is allocating resources like a music streaming app development company, designers, testers, infrastructure, and tools. Review your estimated budget to ensure resource allocation is feasible. Identify any risks to the timeline or budget and make contingency plans.


Finally, create a detailed development schedule that lays out each stage and task in sequence. Identify dependencies between tasks so nothing holds up progress. Set internal milestones to track progress, make adjustments, and catch any issues early.


User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) Design


User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design are important aspects of app development. UI design focuses on how the app looks and functions – the colors, layout, menus, buttons, and visual elements users interact with. The UI needs to be simple, intuitive, and consistent. Good UI design makes the app attractive and easy to navigate.


User experience (UX) design focuses on how users feel when using the app. It considers aspects like usefulness, ease of use, learnability, and satisfaction. UX design aims to optimize the user journey through the app to achieve goals efficiently and with joy. UX designers conduct user research, and create user personas and maps of user flows to inform the design.


The UI and UX are closely intertwined. Good UX design incorporates a well-thought-out UI that users can interact with intuitively. The UI needs to support the desired user experience through effective visual design and interactive elements. The design process typically begins with UX, establishing high-level user needs and goals that inform the UI. UI designers then translate UX recommendations into usable visual designs and interactive prototypes for testing and refinement. An iterative process ensures the final UI enables the ideal UX, creating an app that users enjoy and find effective.


Back-end Development


A Back-end music app developer builds the behind-the-scenes parts of an app that handle complex tasks like data storage, management, and security. Their work to create a music streaming app is unseen to users but crucial for the app’s functionality.


The back end of an app usually consists of a database to store data, an API to communicate with the front end, and application logic to handle data requests from the API. Back-end developers work with tools like databases, web servers, programming languages, and frameworks to build these components. Common database options are SQL, MongoDB, and Firebase. Popular programming languages are PHP, Python, Node.js, Java, and Ruby.


The duties of a back-end music streaming app development company include designing database schemas, developing APIs, and scaling the system to handle higher traffic loads. Back-end developers often work closely with front-end developers and UX designers to ensure the app functions properly as a whole and meets requirements. Testing, documenting, and maintaining code is also part of their role.

While front-end developers focus on how an app looks and works for users, back-end developers focus on what happens behind the scenes to make the app work efficiently and securely at scale. Both roles are crucial for building a high-quality app.


Front-end Development


Front-end developers are responsible for the parts of an app that users interact with directly – the user interface. They apply skills in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and front-end frameworks to transform design mockups and wireframes into working user interfaces.


The work of a front-end music streaming app development company typically involves writing HTML to create the basic structure and layout of the UI. It also involves styling it with CSS, adding interactivity with JavaScript, and utilizing front-end frameworks like React, Vue, or Angular. They integrate the UI with the back-end API to fetch and display data to users.


Front-end developers collaborate closely with designers, product managers, and back-end developers. Designers provide visual design specifications and wireframes that front-end developers translate into code. Product managers identify features and functionalities, while back-end developers ensure the API can support the UI requirements.


Front-end responsibilities also include maintaining and optimizing existing code, testing to identify and fix bugs, improving performance, and keeping up with new front-end techniques and technologies. While the front-end music app developer focuses on what users see and how they interact with an app, a robust, well-designed back-end is still required to supply data and handle other tasks behind the scenes. Both front-end and back-end developers are critical to building a complete, high-quality app.


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Testing and Quality Assurance


Testing and quality assurance (QA) are critical parts of the music streaming app development process. They help ensure the app works as intended, meets requirements, and provides a good user experience.


Testers perform different types of tests at various stages of development. Unit testing checks the functionality of individual code units. Integration testing checks how components work together. System testing evaluates the full app. Usability testing evaluates the app’s ease of use and user interface. Security testing checks for vulnerabilities. Performance testing evaluates the app’s speed and reliability under pressure. Testers typically create test cases and report bugs for developers to fix.


An effective testing strategy in the process to create a music streaming app incorporates automated and manual testing. Automated tests run quickly and are repeated often. Manual testing focuses on complex scenarios and usability. A blend of continuous testing throughout development and final testing before launch helps catch most issues.


A music app developer works closely with testers to fix bugs and pass tests. Test progress and results are used as metrics to evaluate the app’s stability and quality. Only apps that pass all tests should be released.


After launch, app monitoring and customer support help identify bugs and other issues for testers to reproduce and developers to fix. Regular testing of updates is also important to maintain a high-quality app over its lifetime.


Deployment and Launch


Deployment and launch mark the end of the development process and the beginning of the life of an app. Proper deployment planning is essential to ensure a smooth transition from development to production.


Developers configure the deployment environment to match production. This includes settings up hosting for the back end, integrating with payment gateways, and registering the app-on-app stores. Performance and security testing is done to mimic real-world usage.


Automated deployment using tools like Jenkins helps catch errors early and reduce manual work. Developers create a deployment checklist covering all steps from building and testing to publishing. The checklist helps catch any missing tasks before launch.


Maintenance and Updates


Once an app is launched, maintenance and regular updates are needed to keep it running smoothly, fix issues, and improve the user experience. Proper maintenance planning and processes help extend an app’s lifespan and keep users engaged.


App maintenance involves monitoring app performance, uptime, and stability. Any bug reports from users need to be logged, reproduced, and prioritized for developers to fix. Security vulnerabilities also need prompt fixes to prevent data breaches. Regular maintenance also includes minor enhancements, UI tweaks, and backend optimizations.


App updates, on the other hand, involve releasing new versions of the app with significant feature additions or major design changes. Updates are important for keeping the app relevant, staying competitive, and retaining users. However, careful testing is required before releasing any update to avoid breaking the app or degrading its performance.




Careful cost planning and budgeting are essential for developing a successful music streaming app. By following the steps outlined above, you can make reasonable cost estimates, identify areas to reduce expenses and set the scope of your project to match your budget. Remember to revisit your cost plan throughout development to catch any potential overruns early. With proper cost planning, you can minimize financial risks and launch an app that achieves your goals on time and budget. So, start planning now to set your music streaming app up for success from the very beginning.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


How much does it cost to create a music streaming app?


The cost to create a music streaming app depends on many factors including complexity, features, and functionality. In general, budgets can range from $50,000 to $500,000 or more for professional Music streaming apps. The main cost components include development cost which is usually the biggest expense and depends on the complexity of features, the number of developers needed, and the development timeframe. Music licensing fees need to be paid to include music from major record labels in the app. Costs also include cloud infrastructure to support app users and music library, marketing to acquire an initial user base, legal and consulting fees, app maintenance, and customer support costs. While a basic music streaming app may cost $50,000-$100,000 to develop, a full-fledged app with a large music library, advanced features, and high user traffic will likely have a much higher development budget.


How long does it take to develop a music streaming app?


The time it takes to develop a music streaming app depends on several factors, including its complexity, features, and the development team’s experience. In general, here are the stages and timeframes to expect:

  • Planning and requirements gathering: 2-4 weeks
  • Design and wireframing: 2-4 weeks
  • Backend development: 4-12 weeks
  • Database setup: 1-2 weeks
  • Frontend development: 4-12 weeks
  • Testing and quality control: 2-4 weeks
  • Music library setup: Ongoing
  • App store listing and marketing: 1-2 weeks


So, for a basic music streaming app with standard features, development may take around 3-6 months. But for a more complex app with advanced functionality, AI integrations, social sharing features, and a large music library, development can easily take 9-12 months or more.


Other factors that affect the timeframe include:

  • The development team’s size and experience
  • The programming language and frameworks used
  • The complexity of the app’s architecture and features
  • The quality of the initial requirements and design


By properly planning upfront and having realistic expectations, you can work with your development team to set an appropriate timeline for your custom music streaming app project.


Is a music streaming app profitable?


Whether a music streaming app is profitable depends on several factors including the business model, customer acquisition costs, and the ability to scale. If the app charges a monthly subscription fee, that revenue can be significant as the subscriber base grows through customer acquisition costs to gain subscribers can be high. 


Running ads in the app can generate revenue but per-user ad revenue tends to be lower for music apps compared to other apps. Royalties paid to record labels, music publishers, and artists for the music in the library can significantly cut into revenue. The more users gained, the more revenue potential but scaling up operations and infrastructure costs can also rise quickly with growth. Offering premium features like high-quality and offline listening modes can command higher subscription prices but also increase development and hosting expenses. 


While major Music streaming apps are immensely profitable, new Music streaming apps face challenges in gaining traction and covering the high costs of building a large music library, acquiring users, and paying music royalties. Profitability often depends on reaching a large scale.


What is the future of music streaming?


The future of music streaming looks promising with continued growth and innovation. The subscriber base for Music streaming apps is expected to increase rapidly as more people cut cables and turn to streaming services for music and video. Streaming services will add features like music video streaming, curated playlists, song recommendations using artificial intelligence, and better personalization to keep users engaged. 


Audio quality and formats will improve offering high resolution to provide an immersive listening experience. Technologies like spatial audio, Dolby Atmos and 360-degree audio offering an immersive listening experience may become more mainstream. Music streaming services will increasingly integrate with other apps and devices like smart speakers, fitness trackers, and messaging apps to expand their reach. 


Music streaming app development services may also experiment with new subscription tiers, bundles with other services, and free options supported by advertising to attract more users. In summary, music streaming is poised to become more pervasive and integrated into daily life as innovations in technology, features, and business models evolve the industry.