If you’ve been using Spotify’s free plan to stream music, you know it carries a sleek interface, tons of music, great discovery features, and more.
You’ve probably wondered whether paying for Spotify Premium is worth a monthly subscription, or if you’re better off sticking to the free plan to save money. Let’s look at what each tier offers, and decide if Spotify Premium is worth the extra investment.
Spotify Free Benefits
Spotify Free is your ticket to Spotify’s massive collection of music without paying a dime. All you need is a Spotify account (you can log in with Facebook).
On desktop, you won’t feel too limited by Spotify Free. Free lets you choose any artist, album, playlist, or song that you’d like to listen to. Aside from ads every few songs, Spotify doesn’t lock anything out of its free tier. If you’re into social features, you’ll have full access to song sharing and checking out what your friends are listening to.
On mobile, it gets a bit more restrictive. Using an iPhone or Android device, you’ll still have access to the Spotify catalog, but you’re forced to listen to everything in Shuffle mode. That means you can’t listen to an album straight through. However, some select Spotify playlists let you choose songs on-demand.
However, if you’re on an iPad or Android tablet, you’ll enjoy the same on-demand access to music as on desktop. Of course, it still has ads, but you’ll be able to listen to any playlist or album without shuffling.
Using Spotify Free, you must be online to listen to music. This means no listening in airplane mode to save data, though Spotify Free does have a Data Saver mode.
Spotify Free has a few other small restrictions on mobile. You can’t follow friends, access Spotify Radio, add local files, or watch videos. You’re also limited to six skips per hour when shuffling.
Spotify Premium Benefits
Upgrading to Spotify Premium is where Spotify really shines. Premium is the only paid tier that Spotify offers; it dropped the old Unlimited plan years ago. With Premium, you don’t see any ads (audio or visual) at all.
Spotify has ads about how great their service is without ads.
— Matt Fulchiron (@TheFullCharge) July 18, 2016
Aside from removing the ads, Premium also unlocks full access on your mobile devices. You can listen to any song anytime on your phone the same way that you listen on your desktop. Since you’re not limited to shuffling anymore, you can skip tracks, access Radio, and see everything the app has to offer.
You’ll also enjoy the high-quality streaming that Premium offers. By default, the player runs at 160kbps on desktop; Premium allows you to up this to 320kbps, which is about the best compression rate you’ll actually notice.
For mobile, Low quality is 24kbps, Normal quality is 96kbps, High quality is 160kbps, and Extreme quality is 320kbps. Free users can select Normal or High, but only Premium lets you select Extreme on mobile. You can adjust the settings for streaming and saving offline independently.
Speaking of which, Premium’s other huge benefit is offline listening. This allows you to save up to 3,333 songs each on three different devices. You can save any album or playlist for offline listening. The caveat is that you must go online once every 30 days to keep your offline music valid. This is just a check so that Spotify knows you’re still a Premium member.
Finally, Premium allows you to use Spotify Connect, which controls Spotify music across multiple devices. With Connect, you can control what’s playing on your laptop using your smartphone, or pair Spotify with dedicated hardware, such as speakers or your PS4. This is a great feature for controlling the tunes at a party and makes for seamless transitions between listening on your phone and computer.
Of course, Spotify Premium still carries all of Spotify’s great music discovery tools available in Free.
How Much Is Spotify Premium?
The standard price for Spotify Premium is $10/month. While there’s no legitimate way to get Spotify Premium for free, you can get discounts in a few ways.
Spotify’s Family Plan
The most discounted Premium option is the Spotify Family plan. This shareable account lets you add up to six people for a grand total of $15/month. This means that the more people you add, the less the cost per person. Everyone maintains their own account, so there are no usage conflicts or having someone mess with your playlists.
Spotify states that everyone on a Family Plan must live at the same address. While it only uses the honor system to verify this, some have reported Spotify asking for proof of residence from those on a family plan. It’s up to you whether you’re OK with violating the rules to join up with a few buddies.
I'm such a clutch friend. I bought the Spotify family pack just so my friends could have premium
— laur (@lrnpnzn14) July 14, 2016
Spotify for Students, and Hulu
If you’re a student (at an eligible university, with proof), you can get Premium for just $5/month using Spotify Student. Spotify sweetens this deal by including subscriptions to Hulu and Showtime as well. Since Hulu’s Limited Commercials plan normally costs $8/month and Showtime is $11/month, you’re getting quite the deal.
If you like the idea of this bundle but aren’t a student, check out the Spotify Premium plus Hulu plan. For $13/month, you get access to Spotify Premium and Hulu Limited Commercials, which saves you $5/month compared to buying them separately.
Spotify Premium Trials and Promotions
If you want to try before you buy, there’s a 30-day free trial of Premium that you can check out anytime. Doing so requires entering payment information, and Spotify will automatically renew the subscription after your month is up. Head into your account settings to shut that off so you aren’t charged if you decide Spotify isn’t for you.
Keep an eye out for Spotify promotions, too. The company often offers three months of Premium for just $1, but these only apply for users who have never tried Premium before. Sometimes, other companies offer discounts on Spotify Premium. For instance, Sony offers 10% off Premium if you’re a PlayStation Plus member.
How to Upgrade to Spotify Premium
When you’re ready to make the jump to Premium, just head to the Spotify Premium page. Click Get Spotify Premium and you’ll need to sign into your account if you’re not already. Proceed through the payment with your credit card or PayPal, and you’ll become a Premium member.
You’ll then have access to Premium on all the devices you use your Spotify account on.
It’s important to note that if you’re an iPhone user, do not subscribe to Premium through the Spotify app on iOS. Apple takes a cut of every in-app purchase from the App Store, so if you sign up on your iPhone Spotify Premium is $13/month instead of the usual $10/month. Avoid this ridiculous charge and use Spotify’s website to upgrade if you choose to do so.
Is Spotify Premium Worth It?
If you use Spotify with any frequency during the month, Spotify Premium is a great investment. For the price of one digital album per month, you get high-quality music, the ability to save music to your phone (which could pay for itself in data charges), and no ads to interrupt.
With a Family Plan, it becomes an even more attractive deal. Even with just two or three people, paying $7.50/month or $5/month is an awesome deal for unlimited music streaming.
I'm mad at myself for waiting this long to sign up for Spotify premium. So worth it. @Spotify
— Dalton Trout (@DTrout22) July 14, 2016
It’s not odd at all to get your music almost exclusively from Spotify. It saves space on your computer because you don’t have to amass a huge collection of MP3s. You can check out a new artist and decide you don’t like it without wasting $10, plus it’s easy to share music with friends and access your collection across multiple devices.
There are only two scenarios in which Spotify Premium isn’t worth the cost: you already subscribe to another music streaming service, or you only use Spotify a little bit each month. If you already have a massive music collection and only use Spotify to check out a new artist here and there, you might not care about the ads or mobile access. In that case, Premium wouldn’t be worth the cost.
Spotify Premium Is a Great Deal
Stop spending $10 on every album you buy and get access to millions of songs that you can listen to anytime, anywhere, and as much as you want. Spotify Premium is the ultimate app for anyone who likes music, and is one premium app that’s worth paying for.
Find out much more in our unofficial Spotify guide, or check out how to pick the best music streaming service for you for other options.