When you think of music-streaming apps, Spotify is the first name that comes to mind. Love it or hate it, Spotify is currently the most popular music-streaming service, with 551 million users and over 220 million subscribers, putting it ahead of competitors like Apple Music. But what exactly is Spotify, and how does it actually work? We’re answering all your questions with an in-depth look at what you can expect from Spotify.

What is Spotify?

People with headphones listening to Spotify on MacBook.
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If you spend even a little time online, you’ve probably heard of Spotify. It is a popular free and paid music-streaming service founded in 2006 in Stockholm by Swedish friends Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon. Fun Fact: The name came about accidentally when the partners were shouting names back and forth from different rooms of one’s Stockholm flat, and one misheard one of Lorentzon’s suggestions as “Spotify.” He later reiterated the meaning as a combination of place and identity, and there you have it.

Spotify today is a bundle of streaming services that offers access to podcasts, videos, and highly customized playlists inspired by your unique use. With multiple plan tiers to choose from, the free version of Spotify lets you listen to unlimited music, podcasts, and even videos, so you can explore your tastes without spending anything, but you do have to deal with ads and limited functionality. Will have to endure (more on that below). It offers far 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, looping songs/playlists and saving favorites. but that’s not all. There’s a lot available on Spotify, so let’s find out what you can expect.

Spotify Features: Music, Podcasts, and more

Spotify's Discover Weekly page on the desktop app.
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Spotify has a massive library of content that includes over 100 million songs and 5 million podcasts in every genre imaginable, so there’s something for every listener. You can create your own playlists and share them with anyone, but the fun part is that the app will also create a few playlists tailored to your tastes, so you’ll always have something new to explore. However, Spotify is all about discovery, and few others do too. The Discover Weekly Playlist gives you new things to try based on your past listening choices, while the Daily Mix and Release Radar let you discover new songs from your favorite artists based on your listening habits. Spotify recently added a new AI-powered feature called DJ that creates a kind of radio station around your music tastes voiced by Javier “X” Jernigan, Spotify’s head of cultural partnerships. It’s a fun new way the streaming giant is helping users discover themselves.

Do you want to find music to match any occasion? You can filter the search by genre and mood to find individual songs, public playlists, Spotify playlists, entire albums, and even podcasts. You can create collaborative playlists to get a mix of you 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 little more communal. Spotify has even integrated the lyrics into the app, so you can enjoy a fun karaoke night without leaving your couch.

Content on Spotify is localized, so you can access regional songs and holiday-themed content depending on your registered location. For example, a user in the US might find English chartbusters and Christmas songs on the homepage, while a user in India might find Bollywood songs and Diwali Aarti. However, this does not mean that you cannot access foreign content. Anyone from anywhere can access most of the library, and your recommendations will begin to match your listening patterns over time.

Spotify does a great job of keeping what users want in its UI, with a recent redesign (its first in a decade) bringing an Instagram- or TikTok-like scrolling interface to the mobile app, as well. Adding video clips and audio previews to songs.

Spotify Plans: Is It Free?

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

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

In July 2023, Spotify raised its prices across the board. Spotify plans start at $11 per month for individual users and $15 per month for two people living in the same household. This can be useful for couples, roommates, or friends sharing a subscription plan while maintaining separate profiles.

Families can get six accounts for $17 per month, as long as everyone lives in the same household. 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 not much supervision is needed.

Finally, you have the $6 per month Student plan, which gives you the usual ad-free listening, download options, and unlimited Skips, as well as a Hulu (ad-supported) and Showtime subscription.

How do Spotify downloads work?

How to download music and podcasts from Spotify: Downloading a playlist.
Image used with permission of the copyright holder

When you “download” songs on Spotify with a Premium subscription, they are available for offline listening but they cannot be exported to other devices. So you can’t actually purchase a subscription for a month, download all the songs, and delete the app. You’ll need to use the app or web player to access the content, even if you’re listening offline. Downloaded songs are stored on your device, so make sure you actually have free space available before getting a subscription for offline listening.

Spotify streaming quality

How to download music and podcasts from Spotify: Setting the download quality.
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Spotify lets you choose your streaming quality, letting you choose between burning more data with higher quality music or switching to a lower quality if your connection is weak. Spotify Free gets you 128Kbps AAC on the web player, while Premium bumps it up to 256Kbps.

Desktop, mobile and tablet streaming starts at 24Kbps on Low mode and goes up to 160Kbps when set to High. Premium also starts at 24Kbps on low mode. But when set to Very High, it increases to 320Kbps, giving you better sound quality. The big question many people may have is whether this quality level is good. It really depends on you. CD-quality sound is equivalent to 1,411 kbps, but most people either can’t tell the difference or don’t care. High-resolution audio, such as tracks that are available with services such as Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music, Deezer, and Quboz, are often labeled as “better than CD” quality and are significantly superior in sound quality. . If the most pristine and detailed sound you can get is the most important thing to you, you might want to look elsewhere.

Podcast quality is standard at 96Kbps on most devices except web players, where it is increased to 128Kbps. On Low Mode, it can go down to 24Kbps to save data.

Spotify Wrapped

Spotify for 2021 wrapped.
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One of the most popular and most anticipated features for Spotify users is the Spotify Wrapped roundup at the end of each year. It’s a colorful, social media share-worthy analysis of what you heard 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 with your top songs of the year so you can listen to your favorite tracks over and over again. As well as your own data, you can also see what people collectively listened to most and stream the top tracks of the year. However, if you can’t wait until the end of the year, you can always use a site like Stats for Spotify to take note of your habits throughout the year.

Spotify Alternatives

An iPhone with the Rolling Stones playing on the Tidal app.
Derek Malcolm/

Although Spotify is the best music streaming service right now, there are many alternatives for you to choose from if Spotify is not your thing.

apple music

Spotify’s biggest rival, Apple Music, offers a huge library of content and podcasts, just like Spotify, although its podcasts are accessed through Apple’s separate app, simply called Podcasts. Its Personal plan is a dollar more than Spotify’s $11 per month, and has no free tier, but what sets it apart from Spotify, as mentioned above, is its inclusion of high-resolution lossless tracks, as well. Music in its deepest Dolby Atmos and spatial audio formats. Apple Music recently added some new features that may be attractive to those who choose to do so, including its new “Sing” feature that allows you and your friends to turn Apple Music into a karaoke machine. And for classical music lovers, there’s the new Apple Music Classical app, which offers the largest catalog of classical music in the world.

amazon music

Amazon Prime customers might want to take a look amazon music, which includes nearly 100 million songs and a wide range of podcasts. The service has a free ad-supported tier, a no-ads tier if you already have an Amazon Prime subscription, and offers several options for a high-resolution lossless tier it calls Music Unlimited. That also starts at $11 per month ($5 per month on top of the Prime membership). The interface is similar to Spotify, colorful and easy to use, and allows you to do similar things like create and share playlists. The apps are available for Android, iOS and desktop.

Youtube Music

YouTube Music is another great option for YouTube fans. The service has a free ad-based tier, and for $10 per month ($100 annually), you can subscribe to YouTube Music Premium, which removes them and lets you continue streaming music even when your device’s screen is locked. Allows (you can’t do this when playing music through the normal YouTube app). YouTube Music has an impressive library of songs, joining its rivals with 100 million, and it recently started adding podcasts to the roster. One caveat worth noting is the issue of sound quality – currently, YouTube Music only tops out at 256Kbps, which is lower than Spotify’s highest bit rate.

By Thiruvenkatam

Meet Chinnagounder Thiruvenkatam, a seasoned writer and valued contributor to Tipsclear. With a keen interest in diverse subjects spanning technology, business, lifestyle, and more, Chinnagounder brings a unique perspective and wealth of knowledge to our platform. Drawing from years of experience and a passion for sharing insights, Chinnagounder's articles offer readers engaging and informative content that enriches their understanding and enhances their lives. Explore the world through Chinnagounder's eyes and discover the depth of expertise they bring to our multi-author website

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