Spotify Free vs. Premium

Spotify is synonymous with streamable music. The streaming giant serves as a trusted brand within the music industry, presenting free and premium subscriptions to millions of listeners. Features such as its sleek interface and social sharing set it apart from competitors

Compared with rivals like Pandora and Apple Music, Spotify leads in subscribers and provides the best no-cost option. In a 2019 poll, Statista reported Spotify had 113 million premium subscribers. According to VentureBeat, the service has around 248 million monthly active users. 

Compare Spotify plans

You can pull back the curtain and try a Spotify Premium trial for three months, absolutely free. Get to know which package version is the best for your needs.

Spotify Free Spotify Premium
Monthly priceFree with ads$9.99/mo.
Free trial lengthNone3 months
Student planNone$4.99/mo.
Family planNone$14.99/mo.
Number of songs50 million+50 million+
Number of podcasts1,000+1,000+

Spotify Premium cost

Stacked up against Spotify Premium, Spotify Free is a solid option for mobile streaming. If you’re willing to put up with a few ads, you can benefit from its vast library entirely for free. 

With Spotify Premium, you either pay $9.99/mo. or $99/year. The Spotify Premium Family plan provides six premium accounts and only costs $14.99/year. 

What’s more, students can score tunes at a reduced rate of $4.99/mo. with the Spotify Premium Student plan. 

Which Spotify streaming service is right for you?

Special features distinguish Spotify Premium from the free version of the service. The free version allows you to listen to any song right from your desktop. With the mobile app, you can’t choose your favorite tracks. Instead, you’re bound by the laws of shuffle. 

Spotify Premium lets you stream or download your favorite songs and podcasts on compatible devices anytime you want, no restrictions. 

User experience

Spotify’s Premium service provides higher quality audio streams than the free version. For casual listeners, the free version’s 96 kbps on mobile and 160 kbps on your desktop will provide sufficient sound quality. If sound quality is particularly important to you, the upgrade to Premium, along with its 320 kbps speed, might be worth the money. 

The Spotify interface is neatly arranged. You can access your settings on the upper-right corner of the screen or use the menu scrawled along the bottom. Your smartphone also works as a remote. 

Like most streaming services, Spotify casts to any Bluetooth-enabled device. Spotify is compatible with many of your favorite devices, including your smartphone, wireless speakers and more

Personalized Spotify packages

Edit and personalize Spotify by logging in to your account page. From there, you can revise and save your account details. You can link your account to your Facebook profile if you’d like to share personal details between the two platforms. 

You can also acquire add-ons to get the most out of your Spotify experience. Import music from any playlist with a program called Soundiiz, which works seamlessly in the background of your app. Another fun option is last.fm, an add-on that tracks songs across Spotify and other apps while improving discovery. 

Take full command of your Spotify account by understanding its controls. For starters, you can avoid sharing your music history by accessing the Private Sessions feature in your desktop and mobile app settings. If you open up your settings screen, you can also enable and disable Facebook sharing. Other notable controls include toggling your quality of music, archiving playlists and improving searching and sorting. 

Spotify extras

Songs and podcasts are open across Spotify Free and Premium. However, if you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, you’ll gain access to new songs and albums as they’re released. Free members have to wait two weeks. 

Not only can you create your own custom playlists with Spotify Free and Premium, but it curates personalized playlists just for you. Playlists like Daily Mix and Discover Weekly consist of your favorite tracks, and Spotify will even toss in a few songs it thinks you’ll like. 

New Music Friday is one of the many curated playlists provided by Spotify. It’s a selection of the 50 freshest, newest tracks hitting its service every week. 

The disadvantages

As a free member, you’re completely reliant on a strong internet connection. If you lose connectivity, you won’t have any downloads to fall back on. Also, you’ll have to wait two weeks after release to listen to new songs.

How to upgrade to Spotify Premium

  1. Open your Spotify app. 
  2. In the lower right-hand corner of the screen, select Your Library.
  3. Access Settings by clicking on the Gear icon. 
  4. Select the Go Premium button. 
  5. Tap Get Premium and fill out your payment information. 

The takeaway

Ultimately, the differences between Spotify Free and Premium won’t bother the casual listener. But, if music is one of your passions, or you’re the DJ among your friends, Premium is your jam. Premium’s great sound quality and the ability to download tracks make it a great choice if you’re serious about your tunes. 

Zack Kulm

Zack Kulm is a writer and contributor of soda.com. He covers a variety of topics from entertainment and gaming technologies to pop culture commentary. Kulm received a degree in English from Penn State University and Film Studies from Pittsburgh Filmmakers Institute. He also produces award-winning documentaries.