Spotify Free vs Premium: Should You Upgrade?

Music streaming services like Spotify have become incredibly popular in recent years. Spotify currently has over 400 million monthly active users, with nearly half using the free ad-supported version of the service. However, Spotify’s premium subscription offers some compelling upgrades over the free tier. In this article, we’ll compare Spotify Free vs Premium to help you decide if upgrading is worth it.

Spotify Free

Spotify’s free tier provides access to the full music catalog and playlists, but with the following limitations:

  • Audio ads – You’ll hear audio ads between songs. You can’t skip or mute these ads.
  • Shuffle only for playlists – You can only play playlists on shuffle mode, not on demand.
  • No offline listening – You can’t download songs for offline playback.
  • Low audio quality – Music streams at up to 160kbps, which may sound noticeably lower quality.

On the plus side, the free tier still provides personalized playlists like Discover Weekly and Release Radar. You can stream any song, playlist, album or podcast on-demand (shuffle only for playlists). Basic social features like following friends and sharing songs are included.

Spotify Premium

Spotify Premium provides ad-free, high quality streaming and additional features for $9.99/month (student and family plans also available):

  • No audio ads – Enjoy uninterrupted music listening.
  • On-demand playback – Play any song, album or playlist on-demand in any order.
  • Offline listening – Download songs for playback offline, like on planes or subway.
  • High audio quality – Stream at up to 320kbps, nearly CD-quality.
  • Unlimited skips – Freely skip songs you don’t like.
  • Mobile app access – Listen on mobile devices with offline playback.
  • Device connectivity – Play music on speakers, TVs, gaming consoles and more.

Premium also includes some exclusive features like hi-fi tier streaming up to lossless quality [1], Spotify Connect [2], and early access to new releases [3].

Should You Upgrade to Spotify Premium?

Upgrading to Spotify Premium is worth considering if:

  • You listen to music often throughout the day.
  • Audio ads on the free tier bother you.
  • You want to download songs for offline listening.
  • Audio quality is important to your listening experience.
  • You want unlimited on-demand playback and skips.

However, Spotify’s free tier is still excellent if you:

  • Only casually listen to music or podcasts.
  • Primarily enjoy curated playlists and stations.
  • Don’t mind shuffle mode for playlists.
  • Don’t need advanced features like offline listening.

The ad-supported free tier can be a great option for cost-conscious users or light listeners. But frequent listeners will likely appreciate Premium’s upgrades and features. Try out Spotify’s free trial [4] to experience the benefits of Premium first-hand.



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