Spotify Free vs Premium: A Full Comparison

Know the difference between Premium Spotify and Free plans. Get a full comparison so you can choose which one is the right for you.
Spotify free vs premium plans comparison. Image showing woman laying listening to music on a laptop.

It can put you in the mood with deep, sexy beats or a pumped-up playlist to help you power through your workout. It can deepen your emotions, really getting you in your feels with sympathetic breakup tunes or soulful, angst-filled lyrics. Or improve your frame of mind with upbeat gotta dance music. 

It all depends on your playlist. It’s why access to the best music is crucial to our existence. We need music in our lives.

But it’s more than having access to the tunes you love best. The perks of subscription-based plans can win a lot of users over. But with a free version available, is it really worth it to pay for a premium plan? Let’s dig into Premium Spotify vs. Free plans to learn more about each option, and you can decide for yourself.

This article is part of our comparisons series that you can find on our comparisons page. The comparisons series is a series of articles that matches and contrasts the pros and cons between music streaming platforms and plans from those services so you can find which one is the right for you.

Spotify Free Plan

If you’re looking for something gratis, then the Spotify Free Plan might be right for you. It is entirely free. You will need to download the app or go to on your web browser to create an account. Spotify is easy to access and is available for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac users.

While it is absolutely free, there are some caveats. You will have to provide basic information to access your Spotify Free plan because Spotify will target you with audio ads played after every third song. You will also see banners promoting Spotify’s Premium plans.

Another drawback is the limitation of songs you can skip. Don’t like what Spotify is playing? After skipping six songs in an hour, you are all out of luck. You have to wait to get another skip privilege.

Some people are okay with this, and others might find it frustrating. Plenty think it’s acceptable at first but, after having a Spotify Free plan for a few months, realize they want something better. 

Spotify Premium Plans

So what is so special about Spotify Premium Plans? 

To start, no pesky ads interrupt your rhythm and disrupt your vibe. When you pay for your subscription, Spotify removes all the ads that are such a nuisance with the free plan. 

You can search for the songs you want to hear unencumbered and build customized playlists. You also have the luxury of sharing your playlists and creating collaborative ones with your friends. 

Spotify offers Individual, Duo, Family (up to 6 people under one roof), and Student plans, with pricing ranging from $5.99 up to $16.99 per month and $109 for an Individual annual plan. 

Spotify Free vs Premium: A Full Comparison article. Pricing table for Spotify Premium showing features for each plan Individual, Duo, Family, Student.
Source: Spotify

The number one difference you will encounter regarding the Spotify plan comparison is the ads vs. no ads. This is regarding both the visual banner ads and the audio ads you will hear after every third song.

Many people who transfer over from radio think, ‘but I’m used to ads.’ However, they soon realize that they’re not as tolerant as they thought they were, especially when you are using Spotify for situations such as parties, road trips, or workouts. After all, who wants to hear, “In a wreck, get a check” from a local attorney when you’re trying to have a good time.

Winner: Premium

Spotify Free vs. Spotify Premium: Playback controls

Playback control, does it matter? If you’re on the Spotify Free plan, you have limited shuffle play, meaning you can’t turn on a specific song that you want to listen to. You are at the mercy of the random shuffle order of an album. 

If you don’t want to hear a particular song while on shuffle mode, you’re limited to 6 song skips per hour. Meanwhile, Spotify Premium subscribers can happily skip as many as they desire. 

Winner: Spotify Premium

Spotify player desktop design. Spotify free vs premium article comparison.

Differences of Spotify Free vs Premium Table Board

Check out this Spotify plan comparison for a side-by-side look at how the two plans differ. 

Spotify FreeSpotify Premium
Monthly PriceFree$10.99 ($12.99 for Duo plan, and $16.99 for a 6-person Family plan, $5.99 Student plan)
Annual PriceFree$109 (Individual plan) 
LibraryOver 80 million songs, plus 4.7 million podcasts, and 300K audiobooksOver 80 million songs, plus 4.7 million podcasts, and 300K audiobooks
AvailabilityPCs, smartphones, connected devices, Smart TVs, PS3 & PS4, Android Auto, Spotify Car Thing, Apple CarplayPCs, smartphones, connected devices, Smart TVs, PS3 & PS4, Android Auto, Spotify Car Thing, Apple Carplay
Special FeaturesMobile streamingAd-free listening; Offline listening; Unlimited Skips; Mobile Streaming;
FlexibilityOnline play only; Can’t choose music sequence orderOnline and Offline play; Choose which song and in which order to play; Play playlists as it is
Personalization Create playlistsCreate playlists; Play songs in the playlists in order
Sound Max 160kbps, Desktop 128Max 320kbps, Max desktop 320
Table showing all the differences between Spotify Premium plan and Spotify Free, including pricing and features.

Spotify Free vs. Spotify Premium: Supported devices

As long as you have an account created, Spotify is one of the most easily accessible apps there is. You can listen to Spotify virtually anywhere. Blast your tunes from your PC, tablet, smartphone, smart TV, and even your game consoles. That goes for the Spotify Free plan and any of the Premium plans.

Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, or Spotify’s Car Thing can play Spotify whether subscribed to the free or premium version.

Winner: Tied

Premium Spotify vs. Free: Social features

Spotify’s social features are a winner when compared to other music streaming services. Spotify makes it easy to share songs and playlists on social media and with friends. 

Surprisingly, the features are nearly identical when comparing the free and premium plans. Both can create shareable links, post to Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat as well as co-create collaborative playlists. 

Spotify Social feature banner
Source: Spotify

Where Premium users win out is Spotify Premium has Family Mix and Duo Mix playlists, which use an algorithm to recommend songs based on what family/duo members are listening to.

Winner: Premium

Have that perfect playlist on Spotify but want to share it with someone that doesn’t use Spotify? The TuneMyMusic Share feature is the best option to do it. It creates a dedicated smart link page where people can access the playlists you want to share and also have them add it to their account, no matter which music streaming service they use.

Spotify Free vs. Spotify Premium: Curated content

With the exception of the Duo/Family mixes exclusive to Premium plan subscribers, the customized playlists on your home page work the same for both Free and Premium plans. 

These are playlists created from your listening habits, built from songs you’ve recently enjoyed or music you may like based upon your music taste pulled from songs in the Discover Weekly mix. Free or paid curation or discovery features work the same. However, with the free plan, you get whatever Spotify throws at you since they shuffle their playlists with similar music.

If you ever find you have given up on Spotify and need to transfer your playlist to another music streaming service, TuneMyMusic have you covered and makes music transfer easy, too.

Winner: Draw

Spotify Free Plan vs. Spotify Premium: Sound quality

To many people, you will notice little difference in the sound quality between the free and premium plans. At least not when playing your music at a normal noise level and with an average pair of headphones. 

However, if you have a discerning ear, top-of-the-line headphones, or you have the music cranked, you might notice a difference between the two if you were to play them side by side. 

Spotify audio quality settings dashboard on a mobile screen.

The Spotify Free plan streams its music at a max of 160kbps and 128kbps on a desktop, while the Premium plans go up to 320kbps. 

Winner: Premium 

Spotify Free vs. Spotify Premium: Offline listening

This is an easy one. Only Spotify Premium allows you to download songs and podcasts to your device and listen anywhere, anytime, regardless if you have a data signal or Wi-Fi. It’s important to note that with offline listening you still need the Spotify player. The music is not stored on a separate file to be played in a different app. Spotify music stays on Spotify (unless you use TuneMyMusic to transfer your playlists!)

Winner: Premium

Spotify Free vs. Spotify Premium: Scorecard

Spotify FreeSpotify Premium
Music Library
Playback Controls
Supported Devices
Social Features
Curated Content
Sound Quality
Offline Listening
Total 48
Spotify Free plan compared to Spotify Premium plan subscription with a final score at the end giving one point to each checked feature.

The Verdict of Spotify Free vs Premium Is

Of course, it always comes down to your budget and what you will and will not tolerate when comparing Spotify free vs premium. But budget aside, there is a clear winner regarding the Spotify plan comparison. 

If you want to hear Spotify’s very best-the, the latest and greatest songs curated just for you, get the best sound quality and listen ad-free on or offline, Spotify Premium plan is the way to go. 

Transfering Your Music Library Between Music Platforms

If you’ve had Spotify Premium and aren’t that impressed and think you can do better, don’t leave all your playlists behind. TuneMyMusic can easily transfer your music from one music streaming service to another. 

TuneMyMusic supports Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, and many more. You simply cannot go wrong.