Spotify Free vs Premium: Is the Upgrade Worth It?

Are you considering upgrading to Spotify Premium? This article compares Spotify Free and Premium and makes an assessment of whether the upgrade is worth it. (In short, yes it is!)

Spotify is an app that allows you to listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks. Spotify offers a free version that lets you listen to any song you want on demand. 

The subscription-based version is called Spotify Premium and it costs $9.99 per month.  

Spotify has an app for iPhone, Android, and desktops. You can also find the app on games consoles

Features of Spotify Free vs Premium

This section compares the two versions and outlines what features you will find in each. 

Spotify Free

Access to the entire Spotify Audio Library

Spotify Free gives you access to the entire 70+ million songs and podcasts for free thanks to the service’s ad-based model. What a joy, you can listen to pretty much any song ever recorded for free! Yay. From old classics to the latest chart hits, Spotify has it all. They are constantly adding new content, all of which can also be accessed on a free account. 

It seems too good to be true, but there are a couple of downsides to using the free version of Spotify. The main downside is the adverts…

Ad-Supported Listening

In the free version of Spotify, after listening to a few songs (usually around 5) you’ll hear adverts, although they’ll only run for 30 seconds or so. For the most part, you won’t see more than three adverts in one break. The adverts are pretty annoying and do break up the listening experience. Although, you can’t really complain because you haven’t spent a dollar! 

However, you’ll also have to put up with banner and audio advertising. There are banner pop-ups on the web version, although these aren’t particularly intrusive, or as annoying as the audio ads. 

There are many other restrictions found in the free version of Spotify, however, they differ depending on whether you are using the desktop or mobile app.

Limited Audio Quality

Spotify free offers a good range of audio quality, although not as high as Spotify Premium. 

With a free Spotify account, you get access to four levels of audio quality. 

  1. Automatic: (based on network strength)
  2. Low – 24kbps
  3. Normal – 96kbps
  4. High – 160kbps

Premium accounts get access to a Very High setting, which streams at 320kbps.

For the most part, this is fine, it definitely does the job, and most material sounds much better than the same release on Youtube. Again, it’s not much to complain about because you aren’t paying for it. 

No Downloads

Spotify Premium lets you download music to listen offline, without an internet connection. 

In Spotify Free, you can’t download music for offline listening, although you can download podcasts.

This is a bit annoying as it means you can only listen to music on the free Spotify when you have a web connection, so if you are roaming this can drain your mobile data fairly rapidly. 

Spotify Premium

A premium Spotify subscription lands you a huge range of benefits. This section looks at the features offered by a Spotify Premium Subscription

Ad-Free Listening 

You can enjoy the full Spotify music library without ever having to see or hear another annoying advert again. Listen to all your favorite music uninterrupted. This is one of the main reasons to upgrade from Free. If you hate listening to ads as I do, then you can’t go without the sub. Also if you ever plan on using Spotify at a party or in a venue, removing the adverts is essential. And for $9.99 a month, that’s a steal!

Higher Quality Music

Spotify Premium also gives you access to higher quality music files in special ultra HD formats.

 Bitrates for Free Spotify are capped at 128kbps, and for the mobile app, they are at 162kbps, whereas Premium Spotify allows you to stream at 320kbps from your computer or mobile device. 

Spotify Premium’s music has a greater depth of sound since it offers more full-range data. The audio quality is noticeably improved and offers a much greater sense of realism, detail, and immersion in the music. 320kbps is a nearly lossless audio format, so you can hear the exactly as the creator intended!

Download Music

Spotify premium also lets you download your favorite music to your phone or laptop, letting you travel around and listen to your collection without needing to stream from the internet. 

This lets you save on mobile data, so you can download on WiFi, then listen to your music on the bus without having to use up your phone’s data allowance. This is a lifesaver for people who spend a lot of time out of the house. 

I like to download my favorite albums and playlists so I can go running or traveling without needing to drain my mobile data allowance. This is an essential feature if you either have a small data allowance, or you love being outside and away from wifi!

Pick and Play any track on Mobile

Unlike Spotify Free, the premium subscription lets you listen to any track on mobile. There are no restrictions to what content you can access from the Spotify Mobile Application. Similarly, there are also no ads on the mobile app. 

In the free version, the mobile app limits the content you can listen to. You won’t have access to every song, but rather a selection of playlists. This is not the case with Premium, where you can access the entire Spotify library from the mobile app!

More advanced playback control

Spotify Free only allows you to listen to music on your mobile device in shuffle mode. You may, however, listen to a preview of every tracklist and ‘hide’ the tracks you don’t care about. 

Free users get access to 15 pre-made playlists that may be customized at their discretion. Discover Weekly, New Music Friday, Release Radar, and Daily Mixes are among the many playlists available.

For desktop app users, Spotify Free is more forgiving, allowing you to play any song from any playlist you desire.

With Spotify Premium, you’ll be able to skip songs at will and listen to them at your leisure. You really get a whole extra layer of control and playlisting. You aren’t stuck to the predefined playlists, and you can create and share tracks as you please. 

Travel with your music abroad

In Spotify Premium, you can travel abroad with your music collection with no restrictions. In Free Spotify, you will have issues listening to the entire library when in other countries. This is not an issue in Premium!

More Social Features

Both free and premium users of Spotify may make use of Spotify’s robust social features. You can check what music your friends have been listening to on the, and you and your friends can build playlists together, as previously indicated.

Premium customers only have access to Group Sessions, which enables you and five guests to create live listening parties! This is a really fun feature if you have friends who are as enthusiastic about music as you are. In the age of working from home and social distancing, this feature is even more fun!

Spotify Free vs Premium Comparison Chart

FeaturesSpotify FreeSpotify Premium
Over 70 Million SongsYesYes
Audiobook and PodcastsYesYes
Travel abroad with SpotifyFor 14 DaysYes
Play tracks on mobileSome selected playlistsYes
Advert-Free listeningNoYes
Download MusicNoYes
Download PodcastsYesYes
Ultra High-Quality AudioNoNo

Which service is the winner

Obviously Spotify Premium is the better service. The price is only a minor cost that most people can afford, and it’s definitely worth it if you are a music fan. Having this level of convenience is found nowhere else. You literally have all the best music and podcasts in the world waiting at your fingertips. 

If you are on a tight budget, Spotify Free is still good. You can still access most of the content, but you just have to deal with the advertisements every couple of songs. 

If you find yourself getting annoyed by the ads, then $9.99 a month isn’t much to pay to take them away. It saves a lot of time and annoyance in my experience. I never looked back after upgrading!

Biggest benefits of a premium account

There are a bunch of benefits offered by Premium, I think these are the most important!

  • Premium offers a better sound quality. 
  • Premium lets you download songs for offline listening. 
  • In addition, there are no ads on Spotify Premium. 
  • You can also create a personalized station based on your mood.

All of these factors combined make Premium very worth buying!

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Conclusion – Get Spotify today!

If you are interested, you really won’t regret the upgrade. If you love music then it’s essential. Just having access to this amount of music is mind-blowing!

Here are the available Spotify Premium Plans and their monthly costs. Find out more here


Is Spotify premium worth it?

In my opinion, absolutely. Free Spotify is good, but annoying with all the advertisements and limitations. A premium subscription only costs $9.99 a month, which is a minor expense given the amount of content you get access to. 

Is Spotify free forever?

Yep, Spotify Free accounts are free forever, and you won’t be charged later down the line. You can sign up for temporary Premium trials, which may eventually result in a charge, although these are optional, and can be canceled at any time. 

What is the catch with free Spotify?

The main catch is the ads and the lack of downloading. Every couple of tracks you will hear an advert, even if you skip the track before it ends. 

Can you hear the difference between Spotify Free and Premium?

Yes, Spotify Premium gives you access to higher quality audio files, that have a noticeable improvement in audio quality due to the increased bit rate. You can read more about this earlier in the guide. 

About Andrew

Hey Folks! Myself Andrew Emerson I'm from Houston. I'm a blogger and writer who writes about Technology, Arts & Design, Gadgets, Movies, and Gaming etc. Hope you join me in this journey and make it a lot of fun.

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