What’s the difference between Spotify Free and Premium?

Spotify is one of the most popular and best music streaming services around but what’s the difference between Spotify Free and Premium? Here we explain how they compare in price, features and audio quality. See: Best streaming music services.

We’re going to focus on the Free and Premium versions of Spotify here but it’s worth noting that Spotify also offers student discount, plus a family package that costs £14.99 per month. See: Spotify alternatives.


As the name suggests, Spotify Free is available to anyone at no cost – we’ll explain why below in the features section. If you want to subscribe to Premium then it will set you back £9.99 per month. If you’re not sure whether you want to sign up, you can try Spotify Premium on a one month free trial.

There are rumours that Spotify is working on its own smart speaker. If that’s true, there may be a discounted subscription for those who buy them.

Also check out: Deezer vs Spotify comparison.


The reason you can listen to music for free on Spotify is because the service is supported by ads. Every few tracks you play, a short advert or two will be played. It works in the same way as adverts on TV and makes it sustainable for the company. You can use the desktop and web interfaces but the mobile app will only let you listen on shuffle mode or pre-made playlists. See also: Spotify vs Google Music comparison review.

Upgrading to Spotify Premium will remove all adverts so you can listen without interruption – but that’s not all you get for your money. You can listen to anything you want, wherever you want (even abroad) via any Spotify interface (desktop, web or app), and you can skip songs as many times as you like.

Another bonus is the ability to download music for offline listening. A Premium subscription allows you to download/sync up to 3,333 tracks on up to three devices.

There’s also superior audio quality which we’ll explain below.

Audio quality

Spotify uses three different quality settings for streaming, all in the Ogg Vorbis format. 96kbps is the standard bitrate for mobile, which then jumps to 160kbps for desktop and web player ‘standard quality’ and ‘high quality’ on mobile.

If you pay the monthly fee for Spotify Premium, you’ll get 320kbps which is ‘high quality’ on desktop and ‘extreme quality’ on mobile.