Playing a song by Adele using the Melodista app on an iPhone 14 Pro.

Your MP3s on iPhone without iTunes, USB cable, or streaming

One year ago, I shared a method to transfer your music collection to Apple Music without the hassle of a USB cable or a traditional computer—a particularly relevant solution for people like myself who had a #soloiPad (no PC or Mac) lifestyle. Using a Windows virtual machine and an annual iTunes Music Match subscription, I found a workaround that, while incurring additional, albeit minimal costs, proved effective.

The discontent surrounding the iTunes and USB cable requirement is a common sentiment, often cited as an iPhone drawback. Despite the rise of streaming services like Spotify, there remains a sizable audience preferring to enjoy their existing music library without committing to a monthly subscription.

This issue hit close to home when my dad sought a way to add songs to his iPhone without relying on iTunes. Drawing from my experience with a solution I adopted for my iPhone 14 Pro last year, I recommended steering clear of Apple Music. Instead, advised him to opt for a third-party offline music player that seamlessly imports songs over the Internet, offering playback even without an internet connection. Like many iPhone users, he wasn’t aware that this was even a possibility.

With numerous third-party apps available in the App Store, I personally explored several options and settled on Melodista. Its attractive, Apple Music-inspired user interface, simplicity, and minimal ads in the free version made it my top choice. I decided to support the developer by purchasing the ad-free version for $10, ensuring a lifetime of uninterrupted use.

Recognizing that the process might seem daunting, especially for those unfamiliar with such procedures, I created a step-by-step video guide. This tutorial covers essential tasks like downloading the app for cloud storage (I use Microsoft OneDrive) and connecting it to the Apple Files app, iPhone’s built-in file manager. The process also includes downloading Melodista and importing music from cloud storage.

Watch the video below for a comprehensive walkthrough.


Feel free to leave a comment with any questions or feedback. Here’s to enjoyable music listening without the iTunes hassle!

A Viable Better Alternative to Melodista

Another noteworthy third-party offline music player to consider is the venerable VLC app. Although I initially attempted to use VLC last year, I couldn’t figure out how to import my music collection. However, I recently discovered that the process is straightforward—simply copy MP3 files into a local folder named VLC, which is generated upon downloading, installing, and launching the app. This can be easily accomplished using the Files app.

VLC offers many advantages over Melodista:

  1. It has the capability to play songs by genre.
  2. You can copy folders containing MP3s into the local VLC folder. Melodista will only recognize songs—and not songs in folders—that are copied into its local folder.
  3. There are additional sorting options, including: alphanumeric, by album, duration, and date of release. (Both Melodista and VLC can play playlist songs in random order.)
  4. It works with Apple Carplay.
  5. The app supports left/right and up/down finger-sliding gestures anywhere on the screen to rewind/forward and change the volume, respectively.
  6. It has an equalizer with 17 different presets.
  7. The app can also play videos.
  8. VLC is entirely free, with no need for payments to eliminate ads. (Consider supporting the developers through a donation; you can do this via Preferences within the VLC app.)

On the flip side, VLC lacks a home screen widget. Melodista, on the other hand, displays the album art of the current or last song being played in its widget.

Starting in November 2023, I plan to use this app for a while and assess whether I prefer it over Melodista. So far, it looks promising.

Update November 21, 2023: I can already say I much prefer VLC over Melodista. I’ll probably remake the video above using VLC instead of Melodista.

Playing a song by Adele using the Melodista app on an iPhone 14 Pro.
Playing a song by Adele using the Melodista app on an iPhone 14 Pro.