This article shows you the five best music streaming services you can install for free and fully control your music collection.
If you’re a music lover looking for free and open-source music server software to build your own self-hosted live streaming audio server for your extensive music collection, you’ve come to the right place.
Setting up your own music server with media server software is simple. But services like Spotify already offer similar functionality. So, why build your own?
Why Build a Self-Hosted Music Streaming Service?
The primary benefit of a self-hosted music server is control. In other words, your favorite music, your rules. Furthermore, no matter how extensive the collections of online music streaming services are, some artists or albums are always missing.
Not to mention the price. In most cases, you must pay a monthly or yearly charge to use these services. But, of course, this is no longer a concern if you have your streaming music server.
With that out of the way, let us present the five best free self-hosted streaming music services, in our opinion.
Navidrome is our favorite pick. The software has a simple and modern UI and is regularly updated and maintained.
It can be used as a standalone server to browse and listen to your music library via a web browser. On top of that, Navidrome lets you listen to your music collection from anywhere via various third-party compatible mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
The service is compatible with all Subsonic/Madsonic/Airsonic clients and consumes few resources. For example, Navidrome works well even on simple Raspberry Pi Zero or older hardware configurations. At the same time, it can handle substantial music collections.
Navidrome has an official demo available here if you want to try it out. The demo site can be accessed using the username “demo” and “demo” for the password. Please keep in mind that the demo does not enable all functionalities. For example, settings and transcoding are disabled.
Ampache is a web-based audio/video streaming software and file manager that lets you access your music and videos from nearly any internet-connected device. In addition, it is an open-source music streaming service that allows you to host and manage your digital music collection on your server.
Written in PHP, it can install right on your existing LAMP server. In addition, it features a Subsonic compatible API and will therefore function with any Subsonic compatible mobile app. On top of that, another advantage is that it supports Dropbox as a data source.
Apart from the advantages described above, the most significant is that Ampache can handle massive music collections containing tens or hundreds of thousands of media files.
If you want to try it, Ampache has an official demo available here. The demo site can be accessed using the username “demo” and “demodemo” for the password.
Airsonic is a free, web-based media streaming server that can be used to share your music with friends or to listen to your music while you’re out and about. Written in Java, it is based on the Subsonic codebase to provide a full-featured, stable, self-hosted media server.
Like Ampache, Airsonic is built to handle massive music collections, for example, hundreds of gigabytes. Furthermore, although it is optimized for MP3 streaming, it is compatible with any music or video file streamed over HTTP.
Additionally, because Airsonic and Subsonic share the same API, all Subsonic client applications also apply to Airsonic. The choices are vast. They can be found here.
Finally, we need to note that one disadvantage is that the Airsonic user interface feels dated and might sometimes be a little confusing.
Unfortunately, Airsonic does not offer an official online demo where you can view and discover its capabilities.
Madsonic, as the name suggests, like Airsonic, is yet another fork of Subsonic. It is a free web-based media library and media streamer written in Java, with jukebox functionality. Madsonic organizes, classifies, and plays your music files on any computer or mobile device.
Like all of the other proposals on our list, clients can connect via the built-in website or, as with Airsonic, with many other clients that support the Subsonic REST API. Because it is also a Subsonic derivative, its characteristics are comparable to those of Airsonic.
However, we should note that Madsonic seems to be more actively developed. Its most recent release is dated January 2022, while Airsonic is “stuck” with the most recent release from May 2020.
If you want to give Madsonic a try, the demo is available here.
Koel is a simple web-based personal audio streaming service that uses of some of the most cutting-edge web technologies to accomplish its work. The interface is fully responsive and so works flawlessly on any modern browser.
However, the significant disadvantage here is the limited number of client applications that allow you to play music directly from your Koel server. Of course, the application has official Android and iOS client apps available in the respective app stores, but both are paid.
So, despite its shining UI and the Koel streaming server being free to install and use, it is ranked last in our list due to the limited count of third-party apps and the fact that they are paid.
The demo is available here if you want to try Koel.
These are our top five recommendations for free self-hosted music streaming software. We hope that we have been of help in choosing which of them best suits your expectations and needs.
Please keep in mind that if you use any of the provided software to broadcast music over the internet commercially, you must ensure that you have copyright permissions to such music. However, personal or free music can be streamed without restriction.
So, which one is your preferred self-hosted music streaming service? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.