There are quite a few flaws with Apple’s mobile products, and one that drives me crazy is their reliance upon iTunes for all your music syncing needs. If you want a song on your iPhone, you pretty much have to use iTunes to get it on there. Either that or buy it directly from the iTunes app on your device.
Now, don’t get me wrong, iTunes is a good way to buy and organize your music library, but sometimes you just don’t want to be locked down like that. So what are the alternatives? You’ll probably be surprised, but there’s actually more than one way to put music on your iPhone without using iTunes!
There are some free, big-name cloud services that will let you upload your music collection to play on your iPhone, on or offline, and I’ll be covering three of them below before we get to other options.
Google Play Music
Currently, there’s only an official Android app for Google Play Music, but an iPhone version is in the making and should be out very soon. Until then, you can use their web app in your iPhone’s web browser to play your tunes.
To upload your music library to Google Play Music, you’ll need to download the Music Manager onto your computer. Getting it on your iPhone is as simple as using the web app player. If you can’t wait for more control over your music, like downloading onto the iPhone for offline playing, you can download third-party apps like gMusic ($1.99), GoMusic ($0.99), or Melodies (free).
Also, if you sign up for a trial of All Access (Google’s version of Spotify) before June 30, 2013, you’ll get one free month and pay $7.99 a month thereafter, instead of the normal $9.99 per month. If you’re not much for streaming songs and making custom radio stations, the free version should suffice.
Google Play Music is a great way to listen to your own music library from wherever you are, not matter what device or computer you’re using at the time.
If you’re not a Google person, Amazon also has a cloud music service that works with your iPhone called Amazon Cloud Player. However, unlike Google’s offer for 20,000 songs, Amazon only allows a measly 250 songs from your own music collection to be uploaded to the cloud. After that, you have to pay $24.99 per year for up to 250,000 songs. This does not include MP3s purchased from Amazon, though, which are free to keep in the cloud player.
One major drawback is that if you want to purchase any music, you have to visit visit Amazon’s website using the Safari web browser. You cannot purchase MP3s via the Cloud Player app. But on Amazon’s website, you can browse the ample library of over 20 million songs and albums.
Once imported or downloaded, your songs are immediately uploaded to the Amazon cloud, where they can then be played via the Amazon Cloud Player app, and they work offline as well.
You can also leave the browser and open other apps or navigate to anywhere on the device and the music won’t stop playing! (I’m looking at you, YouTube.) If you don’t want to use your browser, you can download the free Dropbox app and play your music there, too. It’s a little smoother than using the browser and also continues playback when you leave the app.
Another nice feature is the ability to “star” songs or groups of songs for offline play. Dropbox is a super easy way to get new songs onto your iPhone and play them anywhere, anytime. If only you could create playlists, I may never need another music player again.
Don’t want to use any of the big services? Here are a few programs you can use in place of iTunes to transfer music from your computer to your iPhone.
CopyTrans Manager for Windows
CopyTrans Manager also transfers your iTunes library to its own music player. This is great for people who already have a bunch of music on iTunes and are afraid of losing those songs by using another service.
Media Monkey for Windows
You can download the free version or opt for the Gold edition, which runs for $24.95. The Gold edition includes a few extras like the automatic library organizer and faster CD burning speeds. If you don’t want to buy Gold outright, you can also get a free copy by completing an offer with one of Media Monkey’s partners (Apple, Gamefly, GAP).
Media Monkey only recently added compatibility with Apple products, but it’s got all the features of iTunes and more. Check their list to see if your device is compatible.
Don’t want to mess with a computer at all? These apps can help you manage your music directly from your iPhone.
iBolt Downloader & Player
Once the app is installed you can use the internal browser to find a place that offers free downloads (like last.fm, for example). Just click on the download link and download the song to your phone and the iBolt player.
MP3 Music Downloader Free
You can edit song names and add them to playlists, and there are no limits or download restrictions.
You can add songs directly from your iPhone’s iTunes library into the player, which is super convenient. The app also comes with a car mode which features a bunch of gesture-based functions. It is add supported, but you can remove ads by buying the pro version for $0.99.
If you don’t want to spend the money, there is an iFile alternative method you can try out.
What sets this app apart from the others is its ability to add downloaded songs to the internal music library. All the other apps utilize separate libraries for the songs you download, forcing you to go back and forth to add songs and create playlists.
Thanks to this awesome feature, MewSeek is the priciest app on this list at $4.99, but if you plan on using it frequently it’s worth it. MewSeek is compatible with iOS 4, 5 and 6.
Of course, one of the most convenient ways to “add” music to your phone is via a streaming music player. Pandora, TuneinRadio, Rdio, and Spotify are a few popular music apps that let you stream music on your iPhone.
Just sign up for any of these free services and begin listening to new music instantly. The free versions of most of these applications do come with intermittent ads, but they can be removed with a paid app upgrade or monthly subscription.
And don’t forget about YouTube, either. The app and the website are both pretty good for finding new, old, and hard to find music and playing it wherever and whenever you want. You may not be able to store those songs on your iPhone, but you do have access to a seemingly unlimited media library on the go.
Know any other ways to download or transfer music to your iPhone without iTunes? Have you tried any of these apps or programs already? Let us know in the comments section below.