Humm.ly's music-based, tailored approach lets you ease tensions and mellow out

Ellen McAlpine, CNN Underscored
Updated Thu May 21, 2020

If you've been experiencing extra stress and anxiety during these challenging times, there are lots of options to help you find ways to relax, including Humm.ly, an app that focuses on using music to ground you and calm you. For $39.99, you'll get a lifetime subscription to Humm.ly and all the app has to offer. It's a music-therapy app with over 200 tracks. Not only can you find music, but there are also guided meditations designed by music therapists and world-class music producers.

We've been using Humm.ly for a week, and we're pretty into it. It has a sleek and simple user interface that allows even a first time user to find tracks that can deliver a calming effect. As a whole it differs from the other relaxation apps out there. The music-based approach gives it an edge and allows you to tailor the experience based on what you need. We think it's a great fit for working from home too.

Navigating the app

Humm.ly

The Humm.ly app, available for iOs and Android devices, is easy to navigate. When you first open the app, you'll get pop-up explanations of everything it can do. At the top of the screen you'll see your usage streak, the amount of "honey" (the app's reward system) you have, and a tracker of consistent mindfulness. The app sets a consistent mindfulness goal for you, and if you achieve that, you'll earn a certain amount of honey. As you collect honey, you unlock new meditations and videos.

Scrolling down, you'll see an icon labeled Find The Right Track For You (we'll get into that part later). You'll then see Take A Path To Mindfulness, which is a left to right scrolling tab of options. These options include categories like Self Motivation, Dream Big, and Personal Growth, among others. When you click on each of these, you'll find a curated list of meditations and tracks to listen to. All of these tracks will be relevant to the broader category you picked.

Underneath, you'll find the Explore section. You'll see a page for new content, your favorites, and then other broad categories, like Relax, Daily Routine, Grow and Music. As you explore, you'll find more curated guides and lists of tracks, plus courses you can follow for specific goals.

We really enjoyed the interface of Humm.ly. It was a breeze to navigate around and the color scheme is a pleasing aesthetic. It's easy to find tracks again once you've listened to them, and even faster to find them if you've saved them in your favorites. When you start playing a track, it'll appear on the screen. If you lock your phone screen, you'll find the track control (pause, play, volume increase and decrease) on the lock screen, the same as you would with music from your music apps. You can also share tracks with friends, another thing we really liked about Humm.ly. In a time when we're staying connected virtually, sharing motivational and inspiring tracks like the ones on Humm.ly can make the difference in someone's day.

Customizing your experience

Humm.ly

Humm.ly lets you fully customize your experience. On your homepage you'll see a section called Find The Right Track For You. When you click Start, you'll answer two questions regarding your general mood and what you're feeling stressed about. You're also asked what areas you'd like to focus on, and given four options. Once you choose an option, Humm.ly finds meditations you might enjoy based on your responses. This is a great feature if you don't feel like scrolling through the app looking for a new track.

As you accumulate honey, you get access to new tracks and videos. This is a cool feature of the app, because it keeps you engaged in your Humm.ly experience. Plus, the consistent access to new content lets you add to your favorites and discover new tracks, so you get the most out of the app. If you have an Apple Watch you can connect Humm.ly to it and keep track of your heart rate while you listen to tracks. This is an awesome feature and helps you stay grounded during meditations. If you're having trouble relaxing and getting into it, your heart rate will show on your tracker.

The tracks

Humm.ly

The tracks on Humm.ly are exactly what you'd expect from a meditation app. There's calming background noise and a soothing voice speaking. What was great about Humm.ly is that you're able to control the volume of background noise versus narration in the app. This is nice if you find the background music distracting, or if you would rather hear more of the music than the narrator.

Track length definitely ranges. On average, the videos are somewhere between 8 to 10 minutes. These seemed like good lengths to us. They're super easy to fit into your schedule, even if you need something to calm you down between conference calls or Zoom happy hours. If you don't want to listen to a narrated meditation but are looking for calming background music, Humm.ly offers this as well. There's a small tape recorder icon on the top right corner of the screen. If you tap on this, the app will shuffle tracks to find you one. Note that it will immediately start playing, so be prepared.

Humm.ly really does have a track for everything. There's a very wide range in topics to choose from, and the subcategories get even more specific. Whatever you're using the app for, you'll end up discovering a new way to relax. It's great that there are curated lists for certain topics and that Humm.ly keeps track of how many courses you've completed in certain categories. With the current situation, it can be easy to get overwhelmed, but Humm.ly is there to provide you with comforting tracks and meditations.

Bottom line

The price tag of $39.99 for a lifetime subscription seems a little hefty, but Humm.ly is an app that will continue to deliver benefits over time. Plus, meditation is a healthy habit to build and keep up. The app is consistently finding new tracks for you. In these stressful times, an app like Humm.ly is a great purchase.

Note: The price above reflects the retailer's listed prices at the time of publication.