Spotify Free vs. Premium: Is Paying Worth It?

Spotify Free vs. Premium: Is Paying Worth It?

July 28, 2021, a week ago


Spotify has announced that its free version is now going to have playback limits. This has increased the gap in content between the free and premium Spotify platforms and once again raises the question if the price for premium is actually worth it for the extras it brings, or if the free version is better simply because it's free.

There is also the fact that other streaming platforms such as Apple Music have upgraded their services. The decision to choose between Spotify and another streaming service or even between Spotify Free and Spotify Premium is getting quite heated. A brief of the similarities and differences between Spotify Free and Premium would help to give an idea of what that $9.99 a month on Spotify Premium is worth. It is important to understand for artists how the platform will develop further and is it valuable to invest sources in

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Spotify Free is, well, free. Just sign up and enjoy access to the music and podcasts in Spotify’s library. But Spotify has sold itself on value and even the premium version is very attractively priced. As has been mentioned, the basic Spotify Premium pack costs $9.99 a month. However, there are a few days available from Spotify to lower the price. Students can pay $4.99, Premium Duo is a 2-in-1 set that’s $12.99, and a6 asking family deal costs $15.99. There's also a yearly $99 package that effectively cuts the monthly price down to $8.25. All of which is very attractively priced. It's also worth mentioning Spotify Free is totally free, so there's that.

Offline Listening

Another very major difference between Spotify Premium and Spotify Free is the ability to download songs to a device and listen anytime, anywhere even without Wi-Fi or a data connection that is only available to Premium users. Spotify Free users can only play and listen to music with a Wi-Fi connection while online.

Library and Availability

Both free and Premium versions of Spotify have full access to its catalog of over 70 million songs and podcast titles. There are no tracks or albums exclusive to the premium version. However, Spotify has made it possible for artists to restrict access to a release for a 2 week period that makes it available to premium users only. For those who want to listen to the very latest releases as soon as they're dropped, this might be a deal-breaker. The restriction is optional, so only a few artists use it.Both Spotify Premium and Free are available on smartphones, PCs, connected devices, smart TVs, PS4 and PS5, Xbox Series, Apple Carplay, and Android Auto. These are all supported devices on both versions. But only Spotify Premium has access to Spotify’s voice-activated in-car connectivity device, called Car Thing.


Possibly the biggest difference between free and premium Spotify other than price is premium’s total ad-block. Both visual ads that show up when scrolling through the app and video shorts that play in-between songs are totally blocked. Spotify Free has no ad blockers. Considering it can only be enjoyed online, an ad-free experience on Spotify Free is not possible.

Special Features

Some unique features that Premium users on Spotify have access to that are unavailable to those using the free version.

Playback controls on the free version are restricted to shuffle play in albums only. There's no way to pick a specific song from the start, only a random selection order.The free version has limited skips, with just 6 song skips available per hour. Only Spotify-curated playlists identified by the absence of a shuffle symbol can free users to skip songs unrestricted. Premium users have unlimited skips.

There is also the anticipated arrival of Spotify HiFi, and though there's no word on pricing, packaging, or lossless songs availability, it is expected Spotify will follow the trend of folding the feature into Premium.

Social Features

Spotify has been a market leader in social connectivity between friends and across social platforms. In this aspect, there really isn't a distinction between free and premium.

It was creating shareable links, posting songs on Twitter and Instagram, connecting to other music apps like Shazam, and collaborating with other users on playlists are all features that are available to both free and premium users of Spotify.

Both versions also provide several Daily Mix collections, which combine recently heard songs and similar, not yet heard songs that may also be enjoyed. The Discover Weekly feature focuses on new tracks and artists from frequently visited genres.

The Duo and Family packs offered on premium have an extra feature called Duo Mix and Family Mix, which recommends songs based on what individual accounts are listening to.

Sound Quality

On a set of headphones, from a Bluetooth speaker or even through a car stereo, Spotify Premium has the advantage of a higher quality audio option. Streaming at 320kbps is available, compared to the free version’s 160kbps on the mobile app. On the desktop app, the bit rate drops to 128kbps.

The audio quality argument will probably be revisited when Spotify HiFi launches, but for now, premium users have a clear advantage in audio quality. In conclusion, choosing between Spotify Free and Premium really boils down to what a person is willing to do without. After all, both free and premium have full access to over 70 million songs and podcasts, social connectivity and accessibility across social platforms and the whole raft of special discovery features Spotify developed. However, Spotify Premium has a higher sound quality, is totally ad free, and offers some special unlimited features where the free version has restrictions. Spotify Premium can also be had in a few very cost-effective packages that narrow the price gap that is the free version’s price advantage considerably.

The fact that Spotify Free is totally free is still its biggest advantage. If Spotify HiFi turns into the premium package, it’s likely that the price for premium will increase.On the other hand, if Spotify HiFi arrives as a separate, more expensive third tier, Premium would be a very attractively priced middle ground.