Spotify Free vs Premium: Is Premium Worth it?

In Short
  • Spotify Premium unlocks many features over the free tier.
  • Some of them include ad-free playback, offline downloads, better music quality, and many other features.
  • Discover Music and Social features remain unimpacted and are free for everyone.

Spotify is easily one of the most popular music streaming platforms out there thanks to its vast music library, social features, and an excellent app that’s not only extremely user-friendly but has many useful features. That said, all good things come at a price and if you want to use all Spotify features to their fullest, you might want to get Spotify Premium, but is it really worth it? Here’s our Spotify Free vs Premium comparison.

Updated: Refreshed price list as announced on June 3, 2024.

Spotify Free vs Premium: Functional Differences

Where Premium sets itself apart from the Free tier is in functionality. Ad-free playback is a huge reason to consider Premium, but that’s just the start of roadblocks. In the past few months, the platform has pulled many features that were previously available in the free tier, now locked behind Premium.

No Skipping, Sire!

Spotify Premium offers the ability to skip to parts of songs or select the song you want to start playing instantly. The inability to skip songs on the free tier is the biggest roadblock due to which you might sometimes just rage-quit the app. It’s what Spotify wants you to face, so that you think about purchasing the Premium plan, the next time you launch app.

Skips done

Although, a few of the curated playlists are an exception to this rule. These include “Made for You,” “Discover Weekly,” “Daily Mix,” and playlists that are generally curated for you by Spotify’s algorithm.

The free version doesn’t even allow you to see which song is up next in the queue by sliding and peeking in the player. The desktop app is a different story. The last time we checked, it still allowed unlimited skips. Knowing Spotify and their recent tactics, don’t be surprised if that changes soon. The platform has also started locking lyrics behind Premium.

There’s no such limit on how many songs you can skip or peek at on Spotify Premium, and neither is there a cap to the playlists.

Uninterrupted Music – No Ads

We could still see people using the platform with no skipping allowed, and sometimes you have to sacrifice to save some bucks. Well, wait until the platform bombards you with some annoying ads that are purposefully meant to disturb your peace of mind. It won’t take long for a peaceful music-listening exercise to yield the opposite way and leave you distressed.

On the contrary, there are zero ads on Spotify Premium (unless you listen to podcasts). That’s what Spotify Premium has always been about, even before the platform took away the features free users used to enjoy. It didn’t take them long enough to acknowledge the unwavering resolve of people to bear the annoying ads by locking other features.

Take ’em Offline!

The other standout feature that Spotify has banked on is the Offline listening feature. As the name suggests, Premium allows you to download your playlists and listen to them when you have no internet.

How to Listen to Spotify Offline

This can come in handy when internet connectivity is scarce where you live, or if your mobile plan doesn’t offer you much data, and you have to rely on home Wi-Fi to take music offline. There’s unfortunately no way to download music offline on Spotify’s free tier.

Jam Together

One of the features that was recently added to the service was Spotify Jam. It lets you invite your friends with a Premium subscription to add and listen to the same music together with a common queue to which everyone can update their music recommendations.

Spotify Free vs Premium: Is Premium Worth it?

Spotify previously allowed Premium users to host free users and allow them to add music to the queue, but that has now been removed. Hence, to use the Jam feature, you will have to buy the Premium subscription.

In the time I spent experiencing the feature, it’s pretty darn good, and if you’re someone who listens to music with friends, you will love the Jam feature.

A Capsule to Track Your Stats

Spotify Capsule

Spotify Premium gets you access to Spotify Capsule which allows you to keep track of the time you spent listening to music in a month, your top artist, and your top song. It also shows you the usual time of the day you listen to music on your device with a daily average. Consider it a mini Spotify Rewind of sorts.

Spotify Free vs Premium: Music Quality

Spotify has many selling points, and sound quality isn’t a major one. Free Spotify plays music at 128kbps on the web and up to 160kbps on apps. Both aren’t high bitrates, and the difference in quality between the same and YouTube Music’s default 256kbps bitrate on mobile are quite significant.

Spotify Premium bumps the bitrate up to 320kbps on apps and 256kbps on the web for better sound quality. However, the platform still doesn’t offer lossless audio. While Spotify had announced the Hi-Fi tier’s arrival back in 2021, it still hasn’t made it.

The bottom line is, that Premium will offer you a noticeable bump in sound quality, and if you’re someone who puts sound quality slightly above other features, Premium might be worth considering.

Discovery and Social Features

Discovery features are what make Spotify stand out from the rest of the streaming services. This includes the curated playlists and song suggestions, including different categories of music based on moods and genres. Spotify’s Radio feature is great, as it uses the algorithm to create a personalized list of songs, artists, and playlists. These features are available on both Free and Premium plans as of now.

Similarly, the platform also offers social features such as Spotify Blend and collaborative playlists that are accessible to both free and premium users. Other social features like looking at what your friends are listening to or their library are also free to all Spotify users.

Spotify Free vs Premium: Pricing

Spotify’s free tier doesn’t require any form of payment and is completely free, but with ads and other restrictions we mentioned above. Premium, on the other, hand, has four plans — Individual, Duo, Student, and Family. We’ve explained all the plans, features, and their prices in our dedicated How Much Does Spotify Premium Cost post, but here’s a quick rundown on the major plans available:

  • Individual: $11.99 / month
  • Student: $5.99 / month
  • Duo: $16.99 / month
  • Family: $19.99 / month

All prices are exclusive of taxes and the above list has been updated as per the price hike that Spotify revealed in June 2024. Individual and Student plans are free to try for the first month if you haven’t tried Premium yet. Spotify’s Student plan comes at a discounted price and offers a Hulu subscription. The Duo and Family plans offer Premium features over multiple accounts.

Is Spotify Premium Worth it?

As much as I detest Spotify for locking away previously-free features behind a paid subscription, I must admit that there’s a lot going in favor of the Premium plan. The Ad-free playback, combined with the ability to freely skip songs, listening to songs offline, and at a higher quality with collaborative features, makes Premium subscription worth the price.

What are your thoughts on Spotify Premium? Let us know in the comments below.

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