It has been almost 15 years since Spotify first launched in 2008. Much has changed, and today the platform is among the most popular music streaming services, with a considerable lead over other options like Apple Music and Tidal.
But what exactly is Spotify, what does it offer, and is it worth your hard-earned money? This guide serves as the place to find answers to all of your Spotify questions. Let’s get into it!
What is Spotify?
Spotify is a digital music streaming service. It gives you instant access to its vast online library of music and podcasts, allowing you to listen to any content of your choice at any time. It is both legal and easy to use.
You will find millions of songs from a variety of genres and artists: from obscure indie rock to top 40 pop, to movie soundtracks and classical music. It also has a complex algorithm to recommend music based on your listening history, as well as curated playlists and internet radio stations.
Podcasts are just as plentiful, so whether you love listening to true crime stories or to tech discussions, there is something for everyone. In fact, the company is investing heavily in podcast content, purchasing podcasting networks Gimlet Media and Parcast. It even dropped over $100 million on an exclusive multi-year deal with the Joe Rogan Experience.
Best of all, you can use Spotify completely free of charge. The service has a Premium subscription plan, but you can also enjoy an ad-supported version of the platform without spending a cent. To better understand the differences, check out the Spotify Free vs Spotify Premium section of this article.
Is Spotify free?
The basic, ad-supported version of Spotify is completely free. It offers unlimited access to the full catalog of music and podcasts but comes with a few drawbacks.
The most intrusive are frequent ad breaks. These can really kill your groove if you’re listening to a party. You’re also limited to just a few song skips, and audio quality is slightly lower at 160kbit/s.
Why upgrade to Spotify Premium?
Subscribing to Spotify Premium is a great way to get rid of pesky ads, but there is more to the paid version of the service than you might expect. Here is why Spotify Premium might be worth it for you.
- No advertisements anywhere: this includes both audio and banner ads.
- Better audio quality: if you are an audiophile, Spotify Premium’s upgrade from 160kbit/s to 320kbit/s could be well worth it.
- Downloading songs (sort of): Spotify Premium allows you to download songs for offline listening. If you cancel your subscription, however, you will no longer have access to them.
- Unlimited skipping and no forced shuffling on the mobile app. The free version of Spotify shuffles all playlists and even adds single tracks to shuffled playlists, while only giving you six skips per hour. This only happens on mobile apps, but it’s frustrating regardless. With Spotify Premium, however, you can skip to your heart’s content.
- Ad-supported Hulu access: You can have this bonus feature if you live in the US.
How does Spotify work?
If you are yet to give Spotify a try, there is no better time than now. All you really need is an internet connection and a Spotify account. Here is how to create one:
- Open the Spotify sign-up page on your PC or your mobile browser. You will be asked to enter a valid email address, create a password, and choose a username. You will also be required to enter your date of birth and gender. Once you’ve done that click the green Sign up button.
- You can then choose a subscription level. If you are new to Spotify, you can test Premium for three months for free. We recommend giving it a try because it offers a ton of perks you won’t find on the free version.
- All that is left is to download and install the free Spotify app. There is a desktop program and of course an Android app. Once you have installed the Spotify app, you can start listening on the device of your choice. Your listening history and playlists will be available and synced across devices. If you don’t want to use applications, you can also listen to Spotify in a browser tab through the Spotify web player.
Be warned that the audio quality dips a bit for both paid and subscription versions of the service when using the web player versus the Spotify app. Spotify Free will max out at 128kbit/s on the web player, with Premium only reaching 256kbit/s.
Discovering music and playlists
But what about finding music and fun podcasts? Once your Spotify account is set up, your home page is your gateway to discovery. You can browse popular playlists, including top hits from your country, and more. Scrolling down will reveal suggested mood playlists, popular albums, trending hits, podcasts to try, etc.
The more music you listen to, the more customized the experience will become. Once you’ve used Spotify for a while, you will have a Recently played section with all the songs and playlists you enjoy on a regular basis, a Based on your recent listening section with recommendations and Your heavy rotation with the songs you play the most. Daily Mix playlists will also be generated based on your listening activity. You can find them in the Made for you section of your home page.
If you don’t like the generated playlists, however, you can create your own. Doing so is incredibly easy. On the desktop, simply click the Create Playlist option on the sidebar, or visit Your Library in the Spotify app to find the option there. Make sure you give your playlist an appropriate name because you will be given suggestions based on it. For example, naming a playlist 80s rock will give you Twister Sister, Guns and Roses, Bon Jovi, and other popular 80s rock artists’ tracks as recommendations.
Don’t worry about finding every single song you want to add when creating the playlist. You can add extra songs later by just tapping or clicking on the three dots menu button next to a song and selecting Add to Playlist. If you really enjoy a playlist created by someone else, on the other hand, you can heart it so it appears in your playlist section too.
You can also avoid making playlists altogether if themed collections are not your thing. Hearting songs will automatically save them to your Liked Songs where you can find them at any time. Following artists directly is an option too. Doing so will notify you when your favorites release new content.
How much is Spotify Premium?
While ad-supported Spotify is always free, the standard Spotify Premium plan costs $9.99 per month in the US, €9.99 in Europe, and £9.99/month in the UK.
There are no price discounts when paying bi-yearly or yearly, but you can save some money if you choose the Spotify Premium Family plan. It costs only $15.99/month for six separate Premium accounts that can be used by family members living under the same roof. If you’re a couple, you can pay a little less for a shared Spotify Duo account for $12.99. College students also pay less, with up to 50% off.
So, how much is Spotify Premium? let’s break it down:
Individual — $9.99 per month. Includes access for one user, ad-free music listening, offline listening, and on-demand playback
Duo — $12.99 per month. Includes access for two users from one household, ad-free music listening, offline listening, and on-demand playback
Family — $15.99 per month. Includes access for up to six users from one household, ad-free music listening, offline listening, on-demand playback, explicit music blocking, and access to Spotify Kids (a separate app just for kids)
Student — $4.99 per month. Includes access for one user, ad-free music listening, offline listening, on-demand playback, and access to Showtime.