Spotify is the world’s most popular music streaming service with over 1 billion downloads on Android and iOS devices! It not only boasts a humongous music library but also a plethora of podcasts you can listen to!
Like most music streaming services, Spotify has two models for you to choose from – Spotify Free and Spotify Premium. If you’re one of the many people confused between choosing the Free or Premium option, this article will put you in a better position to make your decision by comparing the two across many key factors! Who comes out the winner in the battle of Spotify Free vs Premium?
What Are the Differences Between Spotify Free and Spotify Premium?
There are a number of differences between Spotify Free and Spotify Premium. Let us dissect them one by one!
1. Spotify Free vs Premium – The Annoying Ads
Hands down, one of the most annoying aspects of Spotify Free, is ads. Imagine listening to a calming song and then being hit by an ad with all the absurd sounds to ruin your vibe! It almost takes away from a seamless music-listening experience and makes you feel like listening to your car radio.
But that’s exactly what Spotify intends to do – compel you to buy their Premium plan to get rid of the ads (after all they make ad revenue from the same)! Spotify Premium ensures no ads between or during music playback.
For some, this feature of Spotify Premium itself would be enough to get it. But, others with a higher tolerance for ads may still need more from Premium to pivot!
2. Spotify Free vs Premium – Superior Sound Quality?
Spotify Free streams music at a bitrate of 160 kbps when used with good quality headphones, and at an even lower bitrate of 128 kbps on their desktop website.
This takes a leap with Spotify Premium, which streams music at a bitrate of 320 kbps on the app and at 256 kbps on the desktop version! We’ve covered more about this in our guide discussing if Spotify is Hi-Res Audio or not!
In layman terms, Spotify Premium has more data points present in their audio files, and therefore provides better sound quality overall! But it’s only to be considered as a distinguishing factor if you plan on listening to the music with high-grade audio equipment. You can truly enjoy Spotify Premium using some of the best audiophile headphones or speakers on the market.
Spotify has announced Spotify Hifi that will be their tier for lossless audio streaming. This will be a significant leap in the audio quality but that’s for a future discussion.
3. Spotify Free vs Premium – Personalization and Curated Content
Personalization is a very important aspect for any streaming service as all users want a tailored experience. No one likes to dig around for the things they’d like!
Spotify Free users can rejoice here, as regardless of your current subscription type, you will get personalized playlists. These playlists will depend on the listener’s listening preferences and habits including what you play, you skip, you save, you like or you share.
The app also considers the music choices of people with similar preferences as yourself to give you your curated playlists!
Here are some of the curated playlists that users come across on Spotify:
- Daily Mix – This includes the music users have been listening to as well as some fresh tracks of similar taste.
- Discover Weekly – This playlist is updated every Monday with 30 songs that Spotify believes are of the user’s preferences.
- On Repeat – These are songs that users have been blasting for the most time in the last 30 days.
- Release Radar – Upcoming artists or tracks that are of a similar taste to the user’s liking.
- Repeat Rewind – This playlist intends to send users back in time by playing those songs that they used to stream a lot in the past! It’s the perfect hit of nostalgia!
On a side note, if personalization is important to you, we recommend trying Receiptify. It allows you to watch your most-listened-to songs in the form of a receipt!
4. Spotify Free vs Premium – Music Library
Spotify is known for its huge library with millions of songs and podcasts for you! For the most part, the content library for both Spotify Free and Spotify Premium users is the same.
But, there are some songs that Free users might not have immediate access to. Spotify allows its artists to set up a 2-week paywall for their latest releases. If an artist chooses to do so, these releases will only be available to Premium users for the first two weeks since their release.
Why does Spotify do this? Artists earn less from a Spotify Free stream, in comparison to a Spotify Premium stream. So, this allows artists to earn more at the time of release of a new song.
Therefore, if you’re someone who wants the latest songs at the earliest, or wishes their favorite artists earn more, choose Spotify Premium. Otherwise, Spotify Free is the better option, if the 2-week wait isn’t bothersome to you.
6. Spotify Free vs Premium – Offline Listening
One of the main features where Spotify Premium stands out is the ability to download and listen to songs, even when offline! Spotify allows Premium users to download up to 10,000 tracks at one point, each, on 5 different devices.
The same is not the case for Spotify Free users as they do not have access to listening to songs offline on Spotify. Though, the case for podcasts is different as both Free and Premium users can download podcasts to listen to.
So Spotify Premium definitely has an edge over Spotify Free in this regard. Imagine being unable to download songs for listening on a flight journey. Scary, isn’t it?
7. Spotify Free vs Premium – Track Skipping
Rationing skips, now that is something we’ve heard for the first time. But it holds true in the case of Spotify Free, particularly on the mobile app. Free users are only allowed to skip 6 tracks per hour, whereas Premium users have unlimited skips available!
The exception to this rule is when you are playing Spotify playlists that do not have the “shuffle” sign next to them. You can freely navigate within that playlist regardless of being a Free or Premium user.
Also, desktop users get an edge over mobile users as regardless of their subscription type, they get unlimited skips.
The inability to skip more than 6 songs per hour can be a real hindrance to a good listening experience. We recommend you save your skips for the songs that you really can’t stand to bear. Clear winner for us when it comes to song skipping – Spotify Premium.
8. Spotify Free vs Premium – Social Integration
Spotify boasts superiority in terms of social integration. It allows users to make listening a more collaborative experience. There are four features in particular that give Spotify the edge over its competitors in “social” regard:
1. Collaborative Playlist
A Collaborative playlist on Spotify allows multiple users to add, remove, and reorder songs. So, multiple people can contribute to the same playlist, making it a great option for groups of friends, family, or even coworkers to share their favorite songs.
You can use these for parties, events, or any other social gatherings. This feature is available for both Spotify Free and Spotify Premium users.
How to Make a Collaborative Playlist on Spotify?
- Create a Playlist or go to an existing one on Spotify.
- Click the click on the person icon or the three dots icon on your iOS, Android or Desktop App.
- Tap “Invite Collaborators.”
- This link is active for 7 days and you can share it to invite your friends to the “collaborative playlist.”
2. Friend Activity
Friend Activity is a Spotify feature that allows users to see what their friends are listening to on Spotify. You can access this feature by connecting your Spotify account to your Facebook account, or by following other Spotify users.
Once you connect with friends, you can see their recent activity, such as the songs and playlists they have been listening to, on your Spotify home page or on the “Activity” tab in the Spotify mobile app.
Friend Activity also allows you to share your own music activity with your friends and see their reactions, likes, and comments. Additionally, you can also see which songs, artists, and playlists are trending among your friends. Friend Activity is available for both Spotify Free and Spotify Premium users.
As the name suggests, Blend allows you to blend your music with a friend of yours. They update daily based on the listening habits and activities of all the people added to a Blend. Not only your friends, you can create blends with artists as well.
This feature is also available to both Spotify Free and Premium users.
How to Create a Blend on Spotify?
- Tap “Blend (Genre)” when you search for Blend on Spotify.
- Click “Create a Blend.”
- Click “Invite” and share it with the friends you want to Blend music with.
Group Sessions on Spotify is a feature that allows multiple users to listen to music together in real-time, irrespective of their location. You can invite up to 5 people at a time. This is the music version of watching a movie together on Netflix Party or Discord.
It allows one user to start a session, then invite others to join, and everyone in the session can control the music and add songs to the queue. This feature is only available to Spotify Premium users.
How to Start a Group Session on Spotify?
- Play a song on Spotify and then click “Devices Available” at the bottom of your screen.
- Click on “Start a Remote Group Session.”
- Click on “Invite”
Fact Check: Spotify Duo or Spotify Family Plan – If you were a Spotify Premium member on either the Duo or Family plan, before May 2022, you had access to the “Duo Mix” or “Family Mix.” These were playlists curated by Spotify based on the activities of all members part of the said plan.
But, Spotify eventually got rid of the Duo Mix and Family Mix to make way for Blend.
To conclude, Spotify Premium gives users access to multiple additional features in comparison to those using Spotify Free. Premium users get an ad-free experience, can play songs offline, have more social sharing options, can skip unlimited tracks and have access to slightly better overall sound quality than Free users.
How Much is Spotify Premium?
Spotify has multiple Premium plans for users. These include:
- Spotify Premium Individual
- Spotify Premium Family
- Spotify Premium Student
- Spotify Premium Duo
Each plan has a different cost and gives you access to certain different elements. Let’s discuss them one by one!
1. Spotify Premium Individual Subscription
Spotify Premium Individual plan is the most standard Premium plan out there. It costs $9.99/month and includes all of the features mentioned above.
2. Spotify Premium Duo Subscription
Spotify Premium Duo plan is the perfect choice for couples, siblings or roommates. The Duo plan is intended for two people but under the condition that they share the same address. The Duo plan costs $12.99/month for two users and is relatively much cheaper than buying two Individual plans which would cost $19.98.
If you’re wondering if you can outsmart Spotify by buying a Duo account for two people with different addresses, we’re sorry to disappoint you. Spotify uses a verification process to ensure that all users on the plan share the address, failing which the person with the different address than the “Plan Manager” (person initiating the purchase) will lose access to the plan.
Both users under the Duo plan get their own accounts and need not share their credentials. Also, both can simultaneously use Spotify.
3. Spotify Premium Family Subscription
As the name suggests, the Spotify Premium Family plan is intended for families living under the same roof. The plan gives you access to 6 premium accounts at a relatively much lower cost. The plan costs $15.99/month for 6 accounts which would individually cost $59.94.
The conditions to use the Family plan are similar to that of the Duo plan. All users must be at the same address. Spotify has a similar verification process for the Family plan members, failing which the users with a different address lose access to the Premium plan.
The Premium Family plan comes with parental control wherein parents have the ability to block explicit content. There is also a Spotify Kids app intended for kids (of course).
People often end up buying the Family plan seeing how much the overall saving is. But, under-utilization of a family plan will ultimately result in paying more overall. So, only buy this plan if you feel all members will actively be using Spotify.
4. Spotify Premium Student Subscription
Spotify has a Premium plan for students that costs a mere $4.99/month. Students often focus a lot on saving money and Spotify helps them in doing so by bringing down their Premium plan cost by 50% for students.
Not only is the Premium Student plan more affordable, but it also comes with 2 additional subscriptions – SHOWTIME and an ad-supported version of HULU (only applicable to students in the US).
Eligibility – College/university students are eligible for a Premium Student plan so long as their college is accredited by SheerID. Spotify uses SheerID for their verification process for Student plans. There is a max cap of 4 years per person for availing the Spotify Premium Student plan.
Students can continue to use their Student plan, even in case they pass out while a student plan is active. However, they will not be able to renew it any further once this plan expires.
How to Cancel Spotify Premium Subscription?
Canceling a Spotify Premium Subscription is simple, just follow the steps below.
How to Cancel Spotify Premium Subscription on Spotify?
- Login to your Spotify Account.
- Navigate to “Your Plan” and click “CHANGE PLAN.”
- Navigate to “Cancel Spotify.”
- Tap “CANCEL PREMIUM.”
Canceling your premium account won’t immediately downgrade your Spotify account to Free. Your account will be downgraded at the end of your current active Premium plan.
How to Cancel Spotify Premium Subscription on Apple iPhone or iPad?
- Go to the Settings App.
- Click on Your Name at the top of the screen.
- Click on Subscriptions.
- Tap your Spotify Subscription.
- Click “Cancel Subscription.”
How to Cancel Spotify Premium Subscription on Mac?
- Open the Apple AppStore App.
- Click Your Name on the bottom left.
- Click on View Information or Account Settings (different for different users)
- Navigate down to Manage and click Subscriptions.
- Tap your Spotify Subscription.
- Click “Cancel Subscription.”
How to Get Spotify Premium for Free?
Who doesn’t like things for free? Many people wonder if they can get their hands on a free subscription of Spotify Premium. Well, we have good news – you can!
Let’s check out some of the cleaner and legal ways to get your hands on a Spotify Premium Plan for free.
Note: We strongly condemn the use of illegal methods for obtaining free subscriptions.
1. Free Trials on Spotify
Much like many other premium streaming platforms, Spotify also gives their new users free trials for testing out their premium plan. Users can go to the Premium tab on the Spotify website. Spotify is giving out a 30 day free-trial on every Premium plan they have on offer.
Users can simply cancel the subscription just before the free-trial ends. So, they won’t have to pay anything.
Note – This is only applicable to NEW USERS who have not tried Spotify Premium before.
2. Borrow Spotify Premium
Spotify allows users to login one account on multiple devices. So, if you have a close friend or family member who won’t hesitate to share their Spotify Premium account with you, you can use their Spotify Premium for free.
However, Spotify restricts two devices to stream music on their platform simultaneously. A simple way-around for this issue is having one device use Spotify in “Offline Mode.”
3. Samsung Galaxy Spotify Offer
Spotify are running a joint campaign with Samsung wherein users will get 3 months of Spotify Premium for free on buying select Samsung devices.
This offer is valid till May 30, 2023 and only for people that are currently not subscribers of Spotify Premium.
4. PayPal Spotify Offer
Similar to Samsung, PayPal is also running a joint campaign with Spotify. Users will get 3 months of Spotify Premium for free on signing up with PayPal.
This offer is valid till September 15, 2023 and only for users with an active US PayPal account!
Note – If the subscription isn’t canceled within the 3 months, users will be charged the standard $9.99 at the end of this 3-month period.
5. AT&T Unlimited Plus Offer
Users can choose Spotify Premium as their entertainment option on AT&T Unlimited &More. The benefit of using this offer is that it stands as long as you have a AT&T Unlimited subscription.
Simply go to your Account Management page on AT&T Unlimited and select Spotify Premium as the entertainment option to use Spotify Premium completely free.
Note – The offer is not available in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands.
6. Walmart+ Spotify Offer
This offer is similar to the PayPal and Samsung offer, the difference being Walmart+ offers users a 6-MONTH free trial of Spotify Premium. All you have to do is buy a Walmart+ paid plan and follow the steps shown on the offer page!
The offer is valid till March 6, 2023. It does not apply to users who have already tried Spotify Premium or those who have a Walmart+ trial membership.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Spotify has launched its real-time lyrics feature in a tie-up with popular song lyrics app Musixmatch. This feature is available for both Free and Premium users. Users can access this feature by swiping up on the “Now Playing View” on any song.
On canceling your Spotify Premium, you will lose access to all your downloaded songs on Spotify. This is because Spotify is a music-streaming service. Upon cancellation, Spotify deletes all cache files.
Yes, regardless of your subscription type, you can share playlists with others on Spotify.
Final Words on Spotify Free vs Premium
Spotify Premium definitely feels worth it for a seamless music-listening experience. It has a number of features (as mentioned above) for Premium users to make their spending worth it.
As per Statista, Spotify had 195 million premium subscribers by the end of 2022, 23 million more in comparison to 2021.
This clearly goes to show that users find Spotify Premium worth the money. We personally do feel that the Spotify Premium Individual plan is pricey, but if you manage to get any of the other 3 plans, it becomes much more affordable. Also, Spotify has multiple free-trial options that you can choose from, to ascertain if spending the money on Spotify Premium is worth it to you.