This article was published on December 21, 2012

15 of the best music apps of 2012

15 of the best music apps of 2012
Paul Sawers
Story by

Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.

The Next Web has covered thousands of apps throughout 2012, from nifty new browser extensions, to fully-fledged features on the latest game-changing Android and iOS apps.

Music, as always, seems to attract the attention of many designers and developers, with a slew of slick apps rolling out this year. So, we sifted through the archives and pulled out some of best.

Don’t miss our other 2012 lists for more great recommendations.


Lanyard is a beautiful way to keep and share memories of the gigs you’ve been to.

This Web app (native mobile apps and a Spotify app are soon to launch) allows you to search for gigs that you’ve been to in the past, and then add a gallery of photos, a rating out of five and short comment on your thoughts about the show.

➤ Lanyard


Radical.FM entered public beta in November, to challenge Spotify et al with a very ambitious donation-based business model.

The Web-based platform offers a holistic broadcasting platform, combining a personal service aimed at DJs (“RadCasting”) and Talk Show hosts (“Talk”), with curated radio à la Pandora, on-demand playlists similar to Spotify and a distribution channel for indie artists. It’s completely free to use, with no advertising either.

It pretty much ticks all the boxes you’d want from any music service, except it does all seem a bit too good to be true. Here’s hoping it can make a success of it based entirely on donations from the music-loving public.



Instinct launched its sweet interactive guitar-tuition Web app to the public earlier this month. With its built-in pitch-detection tool, you simply play along to your computer’s microphone and the app tells you whether your guitar’s in tune, and also whether the note you’re playing is the right one for the song.

There are eight different courses at the time of writing, from absolute beginner all the way up to 12-bar blues.

➤ Instinct


Qusic is a Web app that ensures you never miss a new music release by your favourite artists.

Much in the way that Songkick (whose data Qusic utilises to identify a user’s music tastes) makes sure you’ll never miss a gig by one of your favorite bands, by alerting you whenever they have a gig scheduled in your town, Qusic ensures you’re kept up to date with new releases by using information available via Spotify’s API and sending you regular email updates.



Richseam is a music discovery platform that’s built around artists’ connections and collaborations. It surfaces these connections and collaborations with a view towards helping you discover new artists and music – so if your favorite jazz band’s drummer also played guitar in a crazy punk outfit, well, Richseam’s Web app will help surface this information.



Mixtaping.FM is a simple Web app that does a pretty good job of reimagining the mix-tape for the digital generation, taking the full analogy beyond that of the music itself, onto cover art and liner notes too.

Through tapping existing (legal) online music channels, Mixtaping.FM has the potential to build a great service. Sure, it is just as easy (maybe even easier) to build and share playlists within the aforementioned services (Spotify and Rdio), but by throwing an audio cassette layer into the mix (pardon the pun), it’s a really fun way to create compendiums of compositions.




Algoriddim, the company that created the Apple Design Award-winning Djay app for iPad, released a similarly impressive product for making video mashups back in June, called Vjay. It later launched for other iOS devices, too.

Videos can be placed side by side within the app and beat-matching makes the process easier to create a live performance or something that can be shared with friends over the usual social channels.

Users can choose to mix with existing videos or record on the iPad’s camera to create their own content. The original Djay app provided a pretty slick and simple to use interface for scratching and adapting tunes and Vjay does similar things with video and audio together.

➤ Vjay: iPad | iPhone/iPod Touch

Indie Shuffle

Indie Shuffle’s iOS app taps the SoundCloud API to provide curated, ad-free playlists based on similar artists and genres. Users can launch their playlists starting with a specific genre, browse the ‘Popular’ list, or check out the latest recommendations. Each song also has a review written by one of their staff-writers.


In addition to viewing by ‘Latest’ or ‘Popular’, you can simply browse the catalogue by genre or view your favorites – the latter of which requires you to log-in using your Facebook credentials. A little bit annoying, but not a deal-breaker.

Indie Shuffle | iOS

Sonarflow iTunes

Sonarflow iTunes is a gorgeous, visual music-discovery app for iOS.

The mobile app, which integrates with your iTunes account, sets about finding music based on the artists and genres you already listen to. It offers a very visual, and fairly intuitive, user interface for exploring both your music, and other music on iTunes.

In Discovery Mode Sonarflow recommends artists and songs based on the music on your device – so if you have Bob Dylan on there, you’ll see little bubbled-suggestions of artists such as Neil Young or Woody Guthrie.

Forget lists and searches, this is all about swiping and pinching as Sonarflow throws suggestions at you in an aesthetically-pleasing, dynamic-wordcloud kind of way.

Sonarflow iTunes | iOS


WhoSampled scans the music on your iOS device to tell you who has sampled, remixed and covered each song. It really is that simple.

WhoSampled | iOS


Beatsurfing is a 3-dimensional Organic MIDI Controller Builder for the iPad, that allows people to control any MIDI-enabled device (including software, hardware or even selected iPad apps through Virtual MIDI) and even ‘draw’ their own behaviors.

Beatsurfing – The Organic MIDI Controller Builder – Official Teaser from Vlek Data on Vimeo.

It was designed to be used for live performances and studio productions.

Beatsurfing | iPad


Chirp is a file-sharing app that sends things to your friends via the gift of song.

This iOS app is quite brilliant, considering it doesn’t make you do anything crazy to share a photo, link or note. It’s a functionality similar to that of music app Shazam, in that it listens for things to be added to your queue. The items have a uniquely identifiable tone, so if your friend has Chirp open too, the tone will be processed and the item will be shared with them.

The tones that Chirp generates uniquely for each of your items can be heard from other Chirp users, so you could share a link with ten people at a restaurant simply by playing the tone to them. Just tap the + button, thenpick something to share:

Chirp | iOS


One year almost to the day since Songkick rolled out its iOS app in June 2011, the live music discovery platform finally arrived on Android.

Songkick is a service that scans music on your device and lets you know about gigs and concerts in your area based on your music taste. You can also integrate it with Spotify, Facebook, Google Music, Pandora and if you’re not one to store music physically on your device.

We like Songkick. A lot.

Songkick | Android


CrowdStream is a free app for live events that can also put a few more pounds (or dollars) in the pockets of artists. The basic premise is to bring fans together around the artists they like and encourage them to interact during live events, such as concerts.

It’s worth checking out if you’re looking to meet new people based on a shared taste in music (or other live performance). Don’t miss our other 2012 lists for more great recommendations.

➤ CrowdStream: Android | iOS


This app was more about the potential than what it offers, as we noted at the time when we covered this. It scans sheet music and plays it back to you, though from our testing it was far from flawless.

What I would say about this app, over and above how it actually performed at the time, is that the idea itself is awesome and it hints at the potential of such an app, if it can be honed and improved.

The developers says that they plan to continue working on this for years to come “making it better and more useful”, noting that they are already working on editing/deleting/adding notes, as well as improving the user interface.

SnapNPlay | Android & Demo Version [Free]

Interested in other apps?

Hopefully you’ll be able to find at least a few apps here that have thus far escaped your radar. And if you want to check out the best productivity, lifehack, travel, media, education, employment and photo apps of 2012 too, be sure to keep tabs on our upcoming roundups over the next week or so.

Image credit: Thinkstock

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