Is it free to put music on Apple?

Apple offers several different services and platforms for listening to music, and each one has different rules around what is free or paid. The quick answers are:

  • For music you already own, you can add it to Apple Music or the Music app for free.
  • Streaming music from Apple Music requires a paid subscription.
  • Downloading music from the iTunes Store requires paying per song or album.

But let’s dive into the details…

Adding Your Own Music to Apple Devices

If you have music files stored on your computer, you can add them to your Apple device for free through the Apple Music or Music app. This lets you listen to music you already own on any Apple device logged into your Apple ID.

To do this:

  1. Connect your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to your computer using the charging cable.
  2. Open iTunes on your computer (or Finder if using a Mac).
  3. Select your device in iTunes or the Finder sidebar.
  4. In the music library section, drag and drop songs/albums from your computer into your device.
  5. Sync your device to finish adding the music.

You can add up to 100,000 songs this way for free. Your music files stay on your computer, while copies are added to your device.

This gives you access to your personal music collection on any Apple device, without paying anything additional. It does require you to own the music files already.

Streaming From the Apple Music Catalog

Apple Music is Apple’s music streaming service, similar to Spotify. It gives access to a catalog of over 90 million songs.

Apple Music requires a paid subscription. Current pricing is:

  • $9.99 per month for an individual plan
  • $14.99 per month for a family plan (up to 6 users)
  • $4.99 per month for the Voice plan (limited to Siri requests only)

With an Apple Music membership, you can stream any song in the Apple Music catalog on demand. This does not require owning the music yourself — the entire Apple Music library is available as part of the subscription.

Some key things Apple Music provides:

  • Streaming access to 90+ million songs
  • Curated playlists and radio stations
  • Music videos and other exclusives
  • Offline listening – download songs temporarily
  • Integration with Siri and Apple devices

So while you can listen to a huge music library, the streaming access requires the paid membership. There is no free tier like some competing services offer.

Purchasing Songs/Albums on iTunes

The iTunes Store allows you to purchase digital music to download and own forever. Pricing is usually $0.69 to $1.29 per song, or $5.99 to $14.99 per album.

When you purchase a song or album on iTunes, the file is saved on your devices and available even without an internet connection. So this gives permanent access that streaming does not.

But you do have to pay per song or album. iTunes music purchases are not part of any free or subscription model.

Options for Free Music

While Apple’s core music services require payments, there are some free options to access music on Apple devices:

  • Apple Music Free Trial – Apple Music offers a 3 month free trial, giving full access to the streaming catalog.
  • Radio – The Radio tab in Apple Music streams free radio stations based on genre, artist, or song. Limited song skipping is allowed.
  • Music Videos – Many official music videos can be viewed for free in the Browse tab of the Music app.
  • Podcasts – Get free music-focused podcasts from Apple or third parties covering genres, artists, history and more.
  • SoundCloud – The third-party SoundCloud app provides free streaming access to user-uploaded music.
  • YouTube – Use the YouTube app to find free music videos, concerts, covers, and more.

While limited, these do allow you to access some music on Apple devices without spending money.

Using Cloud Storage as a Music Library

Another option is to store your music library using cloud storage like iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox. You can upload music files to cloud storage using the desktop apps.

Then on your Apple device, download files or use the cloud service’s app to stream music as needed. This avoids manually syncing music to each device.

Most cloud services offer limited free storage that can hold thousands of songs. So it serves as a way to access your library anywhere, without requiring Apple Music or iTunes purchases on every device.

Just beware of storage limits, streaming quality, and downloading large files on mobile data. But used wisely, cloud storage is a handy free option.


While Apple’s premium music services like Apple Music and iTunes require paid subscriptions or purchases, there are still a few ways to access free music:

  • Add your personal music library across devices for free through Apple Music or the Music app syncing.
  • Use free trials like the 3-month Apple Music offer (with cancellation).
  • Access radio stations, videos, podcasts and some third party services like YouTube free of charge.
  • Store your library using cloud storage apps and their free tiers.

For the full Apple Music streaming catalog, downloads from iTunes, and integration with Apple devices, payments are required. But with workarounds like cloud storage and selective use of Apple’s free offerings, you can minimize costs while still enjoying music on your Apple device.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I upload my CDs to Apple Music?

Yes, you can upload your CD music to Apple Music using iTunes or Finder on a Mac. Simply insert the CD, then upload the tracks that appear to your iCloud Music Library. This will add them to Apple Music so you can stream the songs or download them on devices. Uploading your CDs does not cost anything extra.

What music can I listen to for free on Apple Music?

The Radio tab on Apple Music offers free streaming radio stations. You can also listen to free music videos and previews of songs in the Apple Music catalog without subscribing. Podcasts and other third party apps like YouTube or SoundCloud also provide free music.

Can I try Apple Music or iTunes purchases before paying?

Apple Music offers a generous 3 month free trial, giving full access to the streaming catalog. iTunes does not have a free trial, but you can preview 30 second clips of songs before purchasing them.

What are the limits for adding my own music?

You can add up to 100,000 songs to Apple’s apps and services through syncing or Apple Music. There are no file format restrictions. Note that iCloud Music Library is limited to 100GB of storage space shared with other iCloud data.

What is the difference between Apple Music and iTunes?

Apple Music is a streaming service with access to over 90 million songs. iTunes is a digital music store where you purchase and download songs and albums to own permanently. Both are run by Apple but work differently.

Comparing Apple’s Music Services

Service Price Library Ownership Offline Use
Apple Music $9.99+ per month 90+ million No, streaming only Yes, for downloaded playlists
iTunes Purchases $0.69-$14.99 per song/album 75+ million Yes, yours forever Yes, always available
Music App Free Personal library limit Yes, your files Only with synced files

Ways to Get Music onto Apple Devices

Method Cost Music Library Sync Across Devices
Buy songs on iTunes Pay per song/album iTunes catalog Yes
Apple Music Subscription $9.99+/month Apple Music catalog Yes
Upload personal files Free Your own library Yes, via iCloud
Sync with iTunes/Finder Free Your own library Manually
Cloud storage apps Limited free tiers Your own library Yes

Top Tips for Free Music on Apple

  1. Use the Apple Music 3-month free trial to sample the catalog before paying.
  2. View free videos in the Music app and YouTube.
  3. Stream radio stations for free discovery in Apple Music.
  4. Listen to podcasts about music, artists, and more.
  5. Use SoundCloud to find free songs uploaded by artists.
  6. Store your library in iCloud or another cloud service.
  7. Upload CDs and existing files to Apple Music if you own them.
  8. Follow artists on social media for free teasers and releases.
  9. Check for deals on paid plans, iTunes gift cards, or discounted subscriptions.
  10. Take advantage of any free Apple promotions or trials.

While Apple Music and iTunes favor paid options, using these tips can maximize the amount of free music access on Apple devices.

Criticisms of Apple’s Paid Music Services

While Apple Music and iTunes provide access to tons of music, there are some drawbacks to their paid models:

  • Recurring subscription cost – Apple Music is expensive for those not wanting streaming.
  • No ownership – Streaming music via Apple Music means you don’t truly own songs.
  • No free tier – Services like Spotify offer ad-supported free streaming.
  • Album-focused – iTunes still emphasizes album purchases despite popularity of singles.
  • Costly for power users – Paying per song/album on iTunes adds up for those wanting a large library.
  • Lock-in effects – Apple Music gives little incentive to use other streaming services.

However, Apple does need revenue to license all the music available on its platforms. And it provides high quality streams, songs to own, and extensive catalogs. Overall Apple Music and iTunes both offer great music access if you are willing to pay.


While Apple would prefer you pay for an Apple Music subscription or iTunes purchases, there are ways of getting free music onto Apple devices:

  • Use the 3 month Apple Music free trial to sample the catalog (don’t forget to cancel!).
  • Access free radio stations, music videos, and podcasts included with Apple apps.
  • Upload your personal music library using iTunes/Finder syncing or Apple Music.
  • Leverage free storage tiers on iCloud or other cloud services to hold your library.
  • Take advantage of occasional free Apple Music trials or promotions.

Balancing these options with paid Apple Music, iTunes purchases, or other streaming services can maximize your music access without breaking the bank. Just don’t expect unlimited on-demand Apple Music streaming for free. Payments are necessary to unlock the full catalogs. But with the right approach, you can hear a lot of music on Apple devices at no cost.