What is Spotify? Music, pricing, and features explained

Spotify is the first name that comes to mind when you think of music-streaming apps. Love it or hate it, Spotify is currently the most popular music-streaming service, boasting 456 million users and nearly 200 million subscribers, putting it ahead of competitors like Apple Music. But what exactly is Spotify, and how does it really work?

We’re answering all your questions with this deep dive into what you can expect from Spotify. 

What is Spotify?

People with headphones listening to Spotify on a MacBook.

If you spend even a little time online, you’ve probably heard of Spotify. It’s a popular free and paid music-streaming service that now also offers access to podcasts, videos, and highly tailored playlists. The biggest appeal here is that you don’t need to pay a single cent to stream the latest songs.

Spotify’s free version lets you listen to unlimited music, podcasts, and even videos, so you can explore your taste without shelling out a fortune. It does offer much more robust paid options (more on that below), but the free version is more than enough for the casual listener.  Spotify is also quite device-versatile, so you can use it on your smartphone, tablet, computer, laptop, TV, smartwatch, gaming console, and even in your car.

You get the expected, intuitive controls like play/pause, next/previous, loop a song/playlist, and save favorites. But that’s not all. There’s a lot that Spotify offers, so let’s break down what you can look forward to. 

Spotify features: music, podcasts, and more

Spotify's Discover Weekly page on the desktop app.

Spotify has a massive (really, really massive) library of content featuring over 80 million songs and 4.7 million podcasts, so there’s something for every listener here.

You can make your own playlists and share them with anyone, but the fun part is that the app will also make some playlists tailored to your taste, so you always have something new to explore. The Discover Weekly playlist gives you new stuff to try based on your past listening choices, while the Release Radar lets you find new songs from your favorite artists.  Want to find music to match an occasion?

You can filter the search based on genre and mood to find individual songs, public playlists, Spotify playlists, entire albums, and even podcasts. You can create collaborative playlists to get a mashup of your and your friends’ music tastes, which makes Spotify more social than other music streaming apps. Another touch of social integration is the Facebook login option and the ability to track what your friends are listening to so the whole experience feels a bit more communal.

Spotify has also added the lyrics for songs right in the app, so you can have a fun karaoke night without having to leave your couch. The content on Spotify tends to swing local, so you can access regional songs and holiday-themed content based on your registered location. For example, a user in the U.S. may find English chartbusters and Christmas songs on the homepage, while a user in India may find Bollywood songs and Diwali aartis.

This doesn’t mean you can’t access foreign content, though. Anyone from anywhere can access most of the library, and your recommendations will start matching your listening patterns over time. 

Spotify plans: Is Spotify free? 

Spotify Premium on a computer with headphones plugged in.Guillaume Payen/Getty Images

Spotify has a free, ad-based version that gives you full access to the current library, but you have to sit through ad breaks. Some users avoid this problem with an ad blocker, but you can also subscribe to Spotify Premium if you want the ads gone, in addition to receiving some cool features like song downloads and unlimited skips. 

Spotify plans start at £10 per month for individual users and £13 per month for two people living in the same house. This can be useful for couples, roommates, or friends sharing a subscription plan while still maintaining separate profiles. Families can get six accounts for £16 a month as long as everyone stays in the same house.

The best part of using the Family plan is that you can block explicit music and get access to Spotify Kids, which has fun, age-appropriate content for kids, so no more supervision is needed. Finally, you have the Student plan for £5 a month, which gives you Hulu (ad-supported) and Showtime subscriptions along with the usual ad-free listening, download options, and unlimited skips. 

How do Spotify downloads work?

Spotify download songs.

When you “download” songs on Spotify with a premium subscription, they’re available for offline listening but can’t be exported to other devices. So you can’t really buy the subscription for one month, download all the songs, and delete the app.

You need to use the app or the web player to access the content, even if you’re listening offline. The downloaded songs are stored on your device, so make sure you actually have the free space available before getting a subscription for offline listening. 

Spotify streaming quality 

Spotify desktop client showing the home and settings buttons.Daniel Martin/Screenshot

Spotify lets you choose your streaming quality, so you can pick between burning through more data with high-quality music or switching to lower quality if your connection is weak. Spotify Free gets you 128Kbps on the web player, while Premium boosts this to 256Kbps.

Desktop, mobile, and tablet streaming starts at 24Kbps on the Low mode and goes up to 160Kbps when set to High. Premium also starts at 24Kbps on the Low mode but goes up to 320Kbps when set to Very High, giving you much greater sound quality.  Podcast quality is standard at 96Kbps on most devices except the web player, where it’s boosted to 128Kbps.

On the Low mode, this can go down to 24Kbps to save data. 

Spotify Wrapped

Spotify Wrapped for 2021.

One of the most popular and highly anticipated features for Spotify users is the Spotify Wrapped roundup at the end of each year. This is a colorful, social media share-worthy analysis of what you listened to that year. It looks at your most-played songs, favorite artists, and most-listened-to genres.

People from all over the world share their rankings on social media, making it go viral every December. 

Spotify also creates a playlist containing your top songs of the year so you can listen to your favorite tracks on repeat. Along with your own data, you can also see what people as a collective listened to the most and stream the top tracks of the year. 

Spotify alternatives

Apple Music on multiple devices.

While Spotify is the best music streaming service right now, there are quite a few alternatives for you to choose if Spotify isn’t your thing. iOS users have Apple Music, which offers a huge library of content and podcasts, just like Spotify.

Amazon Prime subscribers get Amazon Music, which features about 100 million songs with no ads. YouTube Music is another great option for YouTube fans, and Tidal has always been a popular choice for those more finicky about sound quality.  

Editors’ Recommendations

betfair listed on couponmatrix.ukhatton-adventure-world listed on couponmatrix.ukjust-fashion-now listed on couponmatrix.ukmaplin-electronics listed on couponmatrix.ukpuma listed on couponmatrix.ukurbanara listed on couponmatrix.uk
betfair listed on couponmatrix.ukAn honest wager may just be your winning ticket at Betfair, the betting man’s hub for sports, casino games, cards and bingo. With hundreds of live events, games and variable bingo boards to test your luck against, you’ll want a Betfair promo code handy to maximise your potential winnings and come out even further on top. From the last wickets of a test match to the final spin of the roulette wheel, chase the thrills you enjoy best with Betfair.
hatton-adventure-world listed on couponmatrix.ukThere is so much to do at Hatton Adventure World! Originally a farm, Hatton has grown into a full blown day out of endless fun and activities. The year round centre makes it a major attraction of the Midlands, drawing in happy families time and again. From rides and slides, to meeting the animals, laser tag and strawberry or pumpkin picking, there is something for everyone in the family. With your Hatton Adventure World discount code, visitors big and small can get tickets for less and head off for a great day out.
just-fashion-now listed on couponmatrix.ukJustFashionNow is a fashion retailer that offers great discounts on the latest trends. You can save even more on your purchase by using a JustFashionNow discount code. JustFashionNow discount codes are easy to find and can be used to get significant savings on your order. Whether you're looking for a new outfit for a special occasion or just want to update your wardrobe, JustFashionNow is a great place to shop. Be sure to take advantage of a JustFashionNow discount code the next time you shop! At Groupon, we know that saving money is important to our customers. That's why we work hard to find the best discounts and promo codes for JustFashionNow. We search high and low to make sure you have access to the latest and greatest deals so you can save big on your next purchase. Check back often for new offers! JustFashionNow has a great selection of stylish clothing for every occasion. Check out their best sellers collection to see unmissable outfits that will revolutionise your wardrobe. And with JustFashionNow promo codes, you can save even more on your purchase. Check out our top picks!
maplin-electronics listed on couponmatrix.ukMaplin brings together the very best tech, making it easy and affordable to kit out your home with high quality accessories, appliances and tools. Make the most of a Maplin discount code to save on everything from bluetooth headphones to voice-activated lightbulbs - with a focus on innovative solutions, Maplin is the perfect destination for the tech-savvy - it’s a one stop shop for affordable picks to streamline your life and home.
puma listed on couponmatrix.ukFor stylish, performance enhancing footwear and sports gear, choose Puma. Do your current pair of trainers resemble something your dog may mistake for their favourite furry ferret toy? Have you forgotten what it’s like to get up in the morning and feel excited for a trainer-clad commute to work? Get that adrenalin kick and round up those pennies for a Puma discount code from us. Strong and comfortable shoes designed with athletes in mind keep feet supported and exercise safer.
urbanara listed on couponmatrix.ukUrbanara is a contemporary home furnishings brand with a focus on quality, craftsmanship and sustainability. Whether you're looking for a new bedding set, a cozy throw blanket, or some stylish new towels, Urbanara has everything you need to make your home look its best. And with our Urbanara voucher codes, you can get all of that and more for less. So don't wait any longer, start shopping at Urbanara today and see how much you can save! At Groupon, we know that saving money is important to our customers. That's why we work hard to find the best voucher codes and discounts for Urbanara products. We want to help you get the items you need and want without breaking the bank, and with our voucher codes, you can do just that. So whether you're looking for a new rug or a new set of dishes, be sure to check Groupon first for all the best deals on Urbanara products. If you're looking at using an Urbanara discount on one of their top-performing products, we highly recommend the Luxury Bamboo Towels. These towels are made from sustainable bamboo and are super soft and absorbent. They're also available in a variety of colours, so you can choose the perfect set for your bathroom. Our voucher code can be used to get an Urbanara discount on your next purchase, whether you're looking for new sofa cushions or some stylish new bedding. Thanks for choosing Urbanara!