Free Spotify users don’t have much control over what they listen to. Shuffle play is the only mode you can access and you only get a limited number of track skips.
This means that you’re more often than not going to be hearing songs or artists you don’t like. Premium users can play any songs they want, in any order they want them. You can skip tracks to your heart’s content.
Since music is such a personal thing, we can’t imagine the majority of people will enjoy being forced to listen to songs they don’t care for. That’s a big selling point in favor of going premium.
The Latest Music
If you care about listening to the newest music as soon as it releases, then Spotify Premium is worth it for you. While it doesn’t apply to all songs, there are some high-profile new releases that don’t become available for up to two weeks for free users.
Most of us use our smartphones or other mobile devices to listen to music these days, but they aren’t always in range of an internet connection. Perhaps you want to listen to music on public transport or when on holiday, away from the internet.
If you’re using the free version of Spotify, you’ll need an internet connection to keep the music playing. With Premium, you can download your favorite songs, albums or playlist to your device and listen to it anywhere.
You can also download high-quality versions of your music, so in general downloaded music will offer amazing quality and clarity. Even streaming audio benefits from the Premium treatment.
Free users of Spotify are limited to 96Kbps streams. That’s far below CD quality. If you pay for a premium subscription, you can push that all the way to 360Kbps.
Even if you don’t have an especially nice set of headphones, the difference is still day and night. It’s absolutely worth getting access to this higher-quality audio. Even non-audiophiles can easily hear the difference.
Is Spotify Premium Worth $9.99?
Most people probably don’t think of $9.99 as a large amount of money, but just because something is cheap doesn’t mean you should waste your cash.
We think that the price is absolutely justified, especially coming from a time where you could barely buy a single album each month for $10.
Even in the age of iTunes, where you would buy songs in digital form outright, you’ll only get a few single songs for the money. So from a pure value point of view, Spotify Premium represents an incredible deal.
Not only can you listen to your favorite music at any time, but you can discover and listen to new music without having to specifically pay for it.
There are basically two downsides, which apply to all streaming services. Firstly, if Spotify goes out of business, you’ll lose access to your curated music collection.
Secondly, you have no control over what music ends up on the service. This means that your favorite music may be taken off Spotify or never be released on it in the first place.
We don’t see that as a problem given the price tag, but for individual users these possibilities may be deal breakers.
For everyone else, we think Spotify Premium is absolutely worth it, with any one of the key features improving on the free experience to such an extent that the price is justified.
The Family Plan Changes The Game
While the value of the single-user Premium plan may be debatable, it’s important to remember that Spotify offers much cheaper per-user prices for family groups.
The Family Plan costs $14.99 at the time of writing and covers six family members. That’s about $2.50 per user if you make use of all six slots.
The Family Plan also comes with other interesting features, such as shared family playlists. Even in a household with only two members, the reduction in cost is dramatic.
More than enough to shift the scale in favor of the Premium option. There is also a Spotify for Kids.
Spotify doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it has many competitors such as YouTube Music and Apple Music. Some of these services also have free tiers, so if you’re trying to save money but can’t deal with some of the limitations Spotify Free has, it’s worth taking them into account.
A key alternative is the free version of YouTube Music. While it still relies on advertising, it offers unlimited song skipping and you can choose any songs you want to play.
So if your main gripe with Spotify Free is the lack of control, rather than the adverts, YouTube Music Free might be the right choice.
On the other hand, the free YouTube Music Tier doesn’t allow background playback. So it’s a question of which compromises you’re willing to live with as a free user.