Spotify Premium has become one of the most popular music streaming services, offering ad-free listening, offline downloads, high quality audio and more benefits over the free version. But with competition from Apple Music, YouTube Music, Amazon Music and others, is Spotify Premium still worth paying for in 2023?
This comprehensive review will examine the key features of Spotify Premium, pros and cons, pricing options, and how it compares to competitors to help you decide if it’s worth upgrading.
Outline of Spotify Premium Review
- Overview of Spotify Premium
- Pricing options
- Key features
- Bitrates for Premium vs Free
- Premium codecs – Ogg Vorbis, AAC, Spotify HiFi
- Downloads for offline listening
Library, Playlists and Personalization
- Your Library – Liked songs, albums, podcasts and artists
- Playlists – Discover Weekly, Release Radar, algorithmic playlists
- Personalization features and recommendations
Advertising and Restrictions
- No ads with Premium
- Unrestricted skips and unlimited offline listening
Platforms and Devices
- Availability on mobile, desktop, TVs, speakers, consoles and cars
- Connectivity with other apps and services
Podcasts and Other Content
- Huge catalog of podcasts
- Audiobooks and other exclusive content
Family and Student Plans
- Shared plan options for families
- Discounted Premium for students
Countries and Availability
- Regions where Spotify Premium is available
- Restrictions in some countries
Criticisms and Drawbacks
- Audio quality not as high as some competitors
- Song library not as extensive as Apple Music
- Privacy concerns over data collection
Spotify Premium vs Competitors
- Premium vs Apple Music, YouTube Music, Tidal, Amazon Music
- Feature and pricing comparison
Is Spotify Premium Worth it?
- Summary of key benefits over free version
- Value proposition compared to alternatives
- Final verdict on whether Premium is worth upgrading
The top reason to upgrade to Spotify Premium is gaining access to improved audio quality over the free, ad-supported version. Here’s an overview of the streaming quality differences:
Bitrates for Free vs Premium Spotify
- Free Spotify: Max bitrate of 160 kbps on desktop and 96 kbps on mobile
- Premium Spotify: Bitrate of up to 320 kbps on desktop and 160 kbps on mobile
Higher bitrates mean more detail and clarity in the music. While 160 kbps should be sufficient for most listeners using headphones or small speakers, audiophiles may notice distortion or lack of clarity, especially in complex musical passages.
Upgrading to Premium delivers a significantly better listening experience with crisp, CD-quality audio across devices.
Audio Codecs – Ogg Vorbis and AAC
Along with higher bitrates, Spotify Premium uses better encoding formats than the free version:
- Free tier: Ogg Vorbis codec at q3 (~96-160 kbps)
- Premium tier: Ogg Vorbis codec at q9 (~160-320 kbps) or AAC (~256 kbps)
Ogg Vorbis is an open source audio format that compresses efficiently while maintaining sound quality. At the highest q9 setting available for Premium users, it sounds significantly better than q3 used for Free.
Premium users can also select the advanced AAC codec for a boost in clarity and dynamics. Support for AAC means streaming happens in the same format as iTunes downloads.
Spotify HiFi – Lossless CD-Quality Streaming
In early 2022, Spotify announced it is actively working on a new Spotify HiFi tier that will deliver CD-quality, lossless audio.
HiFi will stream music in lossless FLAC format with a bit depth of 16-bit and sample rates of 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, and 96kHz – equivalent to CD-quality. This will provide greater fidelity and clarity for audiophiles than current Spotify Premium max quality settings.
No official launch date has been set for Spotify HiFi yet. It will likely cost more than the $9.99 Premium plan when released and compete directly against lossless tiers offered by Tidal, Amazon Music, and Apple Music.
Downloads for Offline Listening
One major advantage of going Premium is the ability to download music for offline listening when you don’t have an internet connection. This is perfect for plane rides, road trips, subway commutes and anywhere else you may not have signal.
Premium allows you to download over 10,000 songs on up to 5 different devices. Downloads are available for both mobile and desktop use. You can also download podcasts, playlists and albums to listen offline.
Downloading for offline combines with higher audio quality to make Spotify Premium shine for music lovers on-the-go.
Library, Playlists and Personalization
Beyond audio quality, Spotify Premium opens up deeper features for managing your music library, creating playlists and personalizing recommendations.
All Spotify members have access to building Your Library by adding albums, songs, artists and podcasts. But Free users are limited to only saving up to 10,000 songs in Your Library.
With Premium, that restriction disappears – you can fill Your Library with as many songs, albums, artists and podcasts as you want for quick access. This gives power users and super fans unlimited space to save music.
Your Library also automatically separates Liked Songs as well as any artists, albums or playlists you Follow for quick access. You’ll never lose track of music you want to replay with Your Library.
Playlists are one of Spotify’s top features, letting you create endless sequenced collections of songs and podcasts. Premium amplifies your playlist powers:
- Unlimited playlists – create as many custom playlists as you want
- Unlimited playlist length – add up to 10,000 songs or podcasts episodes per playlist
- Collaborate with friends on shared playlists
- Enjoy Discover Weekly – personalized new music playlist updated every Monday
- Follow playlist curators like Filtr and Digster to find new music
Two special automated playlists also come with Premium:
- Release Radar – weekly playlist of latest song releases from artists you follow
- Daily Mixes – playlists for each of your favorite genres and artists
With Premium, you have unlimited creative freedom to craft playlists for any activity, mood or occasion.
To help you discover new music, Spotify offers a variety of personalized playlists and recommendations. The free version only gives you limited access to these features.
Upgrading to Premium unlocks the full potential of Spotify’s algorithmic magic to match you with great music including:
- Better recommendations on homepage and radio stations
- More personalized and frequently updated Discover Weekly playlist
- Daily Mix playlists for your favorite genres and artists
- Concert recommendations based on your listening activity
Premium enables Spotify to learn your tastes better than ever and populate your app with music that speaks to you. The expanded personalization makes discovering new music a daily joy rather than chore.
Advertising and Restrictions
The constant annoyance of audio ads vanishing is reason enough for many to go Premium. Here’s a closer look at the advertising and restrictions you’ll escape by upgrading.
No More Audio Ads
Spotify Free inflicts frequent audio advertising interruptions into your listening – around 2-3 ads every 10 minutes of playback. These unpredictable disruptive ads can ruin the flow when you’re lost in your music.
With Premium, the ads vanish. You enjoy uninterrupted listening with zero distractions. For heavy Spotify listeners, ditching the audio ads alone can be worth the monthly fee.
On the Free plan, you only get 6 skips per hour on desktop and mobile. It’s frustrating getting limited on skipping tracks in radio mode or big playlists.
Premium removes skip limits entirely – you have unlimited control to skip songs to better customize streaming sessions.
Unrestricted Offline Listening
Free Spotify heavily restricts offline listening to just 3-5 daily skips after 6 months. With Premium, offline listening works seamlessly with unlimited skips and no restrictions. You can download all the music you want across devices to listen anywhere with no connectivity required and no playback limits.
Going ad-free and removing restrictions on skips and offline listening are some of the biggest perks of upgrading to Premium. The fuller freedom and control over your music is worth paying for.
Platform and Device Availability
A huge draw of Spotify is the availability across a wide range of platforms:
Spotify on Mobile and Desktop
You can stream Spotify from any web browser on Windows or Mac at open.spotify.com. On mobile, Spotify has apps for iOS and Android phones and tablets.
Premium features like offline listening work great across these platforms. You get the same great experience on desktop, mobile, and tablet.
Streaming Devices and Smart TVs
Spotify is available on most smart TVs, media streamers and Blu-ray/DVD players from brands like Samsung, LG, Sony, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Xbox, Playstation and more.
You can easily access Spotify through the device apps or cast it from your mobile Spotify app for seamless TV listening.
For gaming soundtrack accompaniment, Spotify is available on PlayStation and Xbox consoles. Playing Spotify in the background is a premium feature.
Smart Speakers and Home Assistants
You can voice control Spotify playback through smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple Homepod and Sonos speakers and soundbars. Just link your Spotify account and request songs, playlists, and more.
Spotify Car Integration
Many modern car models now offer built-in Spotify integration for accessing your playlists and streaming on the go. Spotify is also available on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay dashboards.
With wide availability across desktop, mobile, TV and audio platforms, Premium lets you enjoy Spotify anywhere life takes you.
Connectivity with Other Apps and Services
A valuable aspect of Spotify is connectivity with other apps and services:
- Last.fm – Track your Spotify listening stats and scrobble songs to your Last.fm profile
- Facebook – Share and discover music through Facebook connections
- Instagram – Share Spotify songs, videos and stories to Instagram
- Snapchat – Add Spotify music to your Snapchat stories
- TikTok – Add Spotify tracks to creations on TikTok
- Samsung SmartThings – Control Spotify playback through SmartThings ecosystem
- Nest – Use Spotify for alarm music for Nest products
- IFTTT – Automate actions with IFTTT applets triggered by Spotify activity
From social media to IoT smart homes, Spotify integrates seamlessly with many services for sharing and automation. Premium allows fuller access compared to the Free tier.
Podcasts and Other Content
Beyond 50+ million music tracks, Spotify is now a top destination for podcasts with exclusive shows.
Over 3 million podcasts are available on Spotify ranging from singles to serials. Top shows like The Joe Rogan Experience and Call Her Daddy launched as Spotify exclusives.
Premium users gain access to full podcast catalogs. You can download episodes for offline listening just like songs.
Spotify offers a growing catalog of over 300,000 audiobook titles alongside audiobook content exclusive to Spotify like the Harry Potter series.
Other Original Content
Other exclusive content you get access to with Premium includes behind-the-scenes artist content, meditation guides, Spotify Singles and more.
For music fans branching into podcasts, Spotify Premium provides an all-in-one destination.
Family and Student Plans
Spotify offers discounted Premium plans for families and students.
Spotify Family Plan
Spotify Family allows up to 6 people in a household to share one Premium plan through Family Mix playlist blending everyone’s tastes. At $15.99 per month, Family Plan breaks down to ~$3 per person vs $9.99 standard Premium price – great for families.
Spotify Student Plan
Verified students can get Spotify Premium Student for just $4.99 per month – a 50% discount off regular Premium price. You keep the discount as long as you’re enrolled in school. Add Hulu and SHOWTIME to make it an even better entertainment package.
Between Family and Student plans, Spotify offers great ways for larger households and students to save money on Premium streaming.
Countries and Availability
Spotify is available in 183 markets globally as of October 2022, with Premium in over 90 of those markets. However, some major countries still don’t have full access.
Where Spotify Premium is Available
Countries where Premium is fully available include:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- Most of Europe
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- South Africa
Countries Where Service is Limited
Some caveats on availability:
- China – Spotify recently launched in China but only offers the Free tier with ads.
- Russia – Premium not available since early 2022 due to sanctions.
- Iran – Spotify unavailable since 2018 due to US sanctions.
- North Korea – Spotify unavailable since 2010 and illegal except in border regions.
- Cuba – Spotify officially unavailable due to US embargo but accessible through workarounds.
- Crimea/Donbas – Premium not available in disputed territories since Russian annexation.
While Spotify has massive reach, its availability is still limited in some regions due to market restrictions. But the vast majority of world can access Spotify Premium.
Criticisms and Drawbacks of Spotify Premium
For all its pros, Spotify Premium isn’t perfect. Here are some of the leading criticisms users level against the paid service.
Audio Quality Not as High as Competitors
The max 320 kbps bitrate on Spotify is good enough for most but falls short of the lossless HD quality offered on Tidal, Deezer, Amazon and Qobuz.
Spotify HiFi promises to eliminate this audio quality gap when launched. But audiophiles still criticize Spotify’s current capped music fidelity compared to rivals.
Smaller Music Library than Apple Music and Tidal
Spotify’s 60+ million track library lags behind Apple Music (90 million+) and Tidal (70 million+). While the average listener may never notice, hardcore music fans can miss more obscure or niche artists and albums.
However, Spotify adds over 40,000 new tracks everyday so they are catching up in size. For most genres, the library selection satisfies.
Privacy Concerns Over Data Collection
Users concerned about data privacy may feel uncomfortable with Spotify’s collection practices, especially compared to Apple Music’s strict privacy standards.
While Spotify Premium ticks nearly every box, higher fidelity options, smaller libraries in some genres, and privacy implications remain the main drawbacks to weigh. But none are dealbreakers for most casual listeners.
Spotify Premium vs The Competition
How does Spotify Premium compare against rival services like Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, YouTube Music and Tidal? Here’s a full feature and pricing breakdown:
||Spotify Premium|Apple Music|YouTube Music|Amazon Music Unlimited|Tidal|
|Monthly price|$9.99|$9.99|$9.99|$7.99 (single)
|Audio quality|320 kbps Ogg Vorbis
256 kbps AAC|256 kbps AAC|256 kbps AAC|850 kbps (HD)
320 kbps|1411 kbps (HiFi)
320 kbps (Premium)|
|Music library|60+ million|90+ million|60+ million|90+ million|70+ million|
|Family sharing|6 people
|Student discount|50% off|N/A|N/A|N/A|N/A|
|Podcasts|3+ million|1+ million|2+ million|950,000+|500,000+|
Spotify stacks up well against the competition, offering a robust set of features at a standard $9.99 monthly price. Apple Music or Amazon HD may edge them out for audio purists willing to pay more. But Spotify remains an excellent option for most mainstream music and podcast listeners.
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Is Spotify Premium Worth It?
So after comparing everything Spotify Premium has to offer against free and competitor options, is it ultimately worth upgrading to the paid tier?
Pros of Upgrading to Premium
Here are the biggest benefits that make Premium worth it for many Spotify users:
- No ads – Enjoy uninterrupted listening without frustrating audio ads
- Higher audio quality – Up to 320 kbps brings crisp, detailed sound
- Offline downloads – Download playlists and podcasts for offline listening
- Unlimited skips and playlists – Removes all limits on library and playback
- Enhanced personalization – Better recommendations from advanced algorithms
- Mobile support – Full access on iOS and Android
Cons of Sticking With Free
Here are the biggest downsides to putting up with the Free tier:
- Audio ads – Frequent disruptive advertising
- Lower audio quality – Max 160 kbps music bitrate can lack detail
- Limited offline listening – Heavily restricted song downloads
- Limited personalization – Less refined recommendations and playlists
- Restricted Library – Just 10,000 saved song limit
- Desktop only – No mobile app access with Free
For heavy Spotify listeners, the upgrade to Premium is a no-brainer. Ditching the constant audio ads alone can be worth $9.99 per month for uninterrupted music enjoyment.
The boosted 320 kbps audio quality also brings much crisper, richer sound – especially worthwhile for music aficionados. Topping it off, you gain unlimited offline downloads, skips, and library space.
Casual listeners may be able to tolerate Free, but frequent users will want to upgrade for the full, unrestricted experience. While pricier options like Tidal HiFi and Amazon Music HD beat Spotify in pure audio fidelity, Spotify Premium hits the sweet spot for most mainstream music fans.
Overall, Spotify Premium remains a top value music streaming service and easy recommendation for anyone who loves listening to tunes and podcasts daily. The flexibility, features and extensive music and podcast catalogs make it the best way to fuel your audio obsession.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Spotify Premium have better sound quality than the free version?
Yes, Premium streams at up to 320 kbps compared to 160 kbps maximum on free Spotify, so you get improved clarity and detail in the music. Premium also unlocks advanced codecs like Ogg Vorbis and AAC for better audio at any bitrate.
Can you download music on Spotify Premium?
Yes, Premium lets you download over 10,000 songs, albums, playlists and podcasts for offline listening when you don’t have an internet connection. Downloads are available across mobile and desktop apps.
Is Spotify Premium worth it for students?
Yes, students can subscribe to Spotify Premium Student for just $4.99 per month, which includes ad-free listening, downloading, unlimited skips and all the same Premium features. Adding discounted streaming to free Hulu and SHOWTIME makes it a great deal.
Does Spotify Premium have more songs than the free version?
No, the song library is the same for Free and Premium tiers. The difference is Premium users have unlimited, unrestricted access to everything in the catalog. Free users can only shuffle play full albums and artist catalogs with ads.
What do you get with Spotify Family Plan?
Spotify Family Plan provides 6 Premium accounts for $15.99 per month. Family members living in the same household share one bill and a Family Mix playlist blending everyone’s music tastes. Parents can also control kids’ listening through Family settings.
Can you get Spotify Premium for free?
There is no fully free way to get Spotify Premium on a permanent basis. But Spotify frequently offers 1-3 month free trial periods for new Premium sign-ups. You can also get 3 months of Premium free when purchasing certain Samsung Galaxy phones. Students get big discounts.
Is Spotify Premium worth it compared to Apple Music?
Spotify and Apple Music cost the same per month at $9.99, so it comes down to features. Spotify has a larger podcast library while Apple has more songs. Spotify may be better for playlists and sharing while Apple excels at audio quality. Overall they are evenly matched for most users’ needs.
Can you get Spotify Premium on multiple devices?
Yes, your Spotify Premium account can be used to stream and download across up to 5 different devices simultaneously. So you can have it on your phone, computer, tablet, TV, and speaker system all linked to one subscription.
Does Spotify Premium sound better than Apple Music?
Apple Music streams at 256 kbps AAC which has a slight edge over Spotify’s max 320 kbps Ogg Vorbis. However, most listeners will have a hard time noticing a difference, especially on phone speakers or Bluetooth headphones. Spotify Premium delivers excellent, CD-like quality for most users.
Is Spotify Premium worth it for podcasts?
Yes, Premium gives you full access to Spotify’s catalog of over 3 million podcasts, including some exclusives. You can download podcast episodes just like songs to listen offline. If you listen to a lot of podcasts, upgrading is worth it.
Do you need Premium to connect Spotify to Google Home?
No, you can link and control your free or paid Spotify account on Google Home smart speakers. However, Premium allows ad-free listening and full voice controls like requesting specific songs and playlists. With the Free account your options are more limited.