It pains me to think about a time when there was no streaming music. While I did enjoy browsing inside a Virgin Megastore or Tower Records to check out the latest music, buying CDs was an expensive habit.
When iTunes came out, I’d sometimes buy songs, but never really jumped on the bandwagon of amassing a collection of songs that I’d probably only listen to a few times. Considering each song on iTunes is about $1.29, I probably spent over $240 a year.
Then there came Spotify. What I love about this site is that it finally has all my favorite songs right where I want them. Plus I can share them with my family.
In our review, I will tell you everything I learned about Spotify so you can decide if it is right for you.
If you’ve tried other music apps and want to try something different, Spotify or Spotify Premium is definitely a top choice.
Quality of music
Free from Ads
- Larger selection of music
- Ad-free listening
- Listen to music at 320Kbps
- Family plan non-transferable
- 10,000 song limit
Why I Switched Over to Spotify
I made the switch over to Spotify in 2013. I did it to save money. I’ve heard some people gripe about Spotify because you’re just “renting” songs. But at just $9.99 a month, it was less than the $240 I was spending.
When I first signed up for Spotify I joined as a Premium member. The reason I decided to pay the $9.99 a month was because a lot of my friends were using it at the time and I wanted access to their playlists. Spotify makes it easy for you to share with your friends and family. Not only did I have my list, I had dozens of other lists my friends made.
Shazam Integration is Priceless
One of my favorite features of Spotify is the Shazam-Spotify integration.
If you’re not familiar with Shazam, it’s an app that tells you the name of a song. So the next time you’re at a cafe or the gym and hear a great song, turn on Shazam and it’ll tell you the name of the artist, song, and will give you the option to add it right on your Shazam playlist.
This is by far my favorite playlist!
Membership: Free vs. Premium
After being a Spotify Premium member for several years, I decided to revert back to the free version because I was ready to move on to a different music app and wanted to try out Soundcloud’s paid version.
Because I started off as a Premium member, I didn’t realize all the benefits I was getting until I switched back to the free version.
There are many perks to paying the monthly $10 for Spotify.
- Listen to your playlists in offline mode
- Not listening to the same annoying ads constantly
- Creating playlists with your favorite music
- Unlimited ability to skip songs
- Streaming only (no offline mode)
- Shuffle version within playlists (you don’t get to pick and choose what you listen to)
- Limited skips for songs
- Constant ads, although you can watch a 30-second video to skip them for 30 minutes
Spotify Paid Version & Listening Offline
This is by far the best feature that you gain from being a Premium member. You can listen to your playlist when you’re not connected to WiFi or your phone’s data.
I found the offline listening to be especially handy when I was traveling and on the airplane. I also found it useful after landing in an overseas country if I had limited phone data.
It’s also the closest way to actually “download” music. Although, Spotify does not allow you to technically download their music. You can’t burn the music to a CD or copy them to other devices. Spotify is a streaming app only.
With Premium, you can listen and download up to 3,333 songs on up to three different devices.
How to Listen to Spotify
First, you have to download the app on your computer and mobile device. If you only listen to music at home, just use the web version on your computer.
You can listen to Spotify on your desktop computer, mobile, and tablet devices.
Spotify Caters to Music Lovers: 6 Cool Features
In addition to being able to follow your friends and family members’ playlists, Spotify allows you to follow your favorite artists and helps you easily discover new artists and music. Most features are completely free and available to everyone.
1. Free Version: Find People and Follow Friends on Spotify
Because Spotify is integrated with Facebook, it’s simple to find friends and family who are also using the app. You can see what they’re listening to, and of course, you can control which playlist others have access to and can see in your profile.
Once you connect with friends and follow them, you can see an activity feed on the right side of your screen to see what they’re listening to. It’s fun to share new music and artists with friends or family who may appreciate the suggestion.
Any time my friends and I would get ready for a particular concert, we’d create a new playlist with songs from that artist. It was a fun way to get hyped up for the event.
If you want to find more friends or musicians, just type it in the search function. The best way to search is by typing it in this way: “spotify:user:USERNAME.”
Just fill in the username with your friend’s name, or you can simply ask them to share one of their public playlists with you.
2. Free Version: Personalized Music Recommendations
There’s nothing nicer than having Spotify’s suggestions be spot on! I admit this is sometimes hit or miss, but overall, Spotify does a solid job of recommending songs that are similar to the ones I’ve listened to in the past.
If you’re a Premium member, it’s really convenient to be able to skip through songs you don’t like.
These are the different types of recommendations Spotify offers to you.
- Discover Weekly: Spotify collects similar songs so you can listen to it and pick and choose whether you want to add specific songs to your playlist
- Release Radar: This is a playlist of new releases and is updated each Friday
- Daily Mix: Each mix is loaded with your favorite artists plus new discoveries that Spotify thinks you’ll like. Daily Mix is a smart recommendation feature that changes as your taste in music does too.
I actually think the Discover Weekly isn’t bad and I would turn that on each week that it was updated. I’ve used it exactly as it was intended, and really liked some songs I heard, so I’d save it on one of my playlists.
Compared to Pandora’s music choices, I find a lot of value in Discover Weekly because they don’t play the same songs over and over. I admit I haven’t listened diligently to Pandora this year, but I found that to be one of the disadvantages and why I tend to listen more frequently to Spotify than Pandora.
3. Free Version: Radio Stations
Based on music or artists you like, you can create a radio station that will play similar songs.
This feature is available on most other streaming music apps as well and is great for listeners like me who don’t want to sit there and fuss over picking songs or artists. Just turn on the radio and go.
4. Free Version: Listen Along With the Lyrics
Remember that TV show, “Pop-Up Video”? They played music videos with pop-up trivia that you could read on the screen while watching. The trivia would offer interesting tidbits about the artist or band and give you the inside scoop on what happened while shooting the video.
Spotify is sort of doing the same thing in their app. They teamed up with Genius to give you the lyrics to various songs, so instead of Googling it, you can use Spotify to read the lyrics as you’re listening.
For certain songs, you can also learn about behind-the-scenes trivia, including what inspired the lyrics and various facts about the song.
This is only available for select songs and playlists.
5. Premium Members Only: Spotify and Amazon’s Alexa
I have an Amazon Echo Dot at home and noticed that in order to integrate it with Spotify, you need to be a Premium member. For this reason alone, I may end up signing up for Spotify again. The thought of saving time by using Alexa to turn on my music and pick a song really appeals to me.
You can tell Alexa which playlists to choose or what kind of music you want to listen to. This is really handy if you’ve just stepped in the door and need to unwind with your favorite music. Voice recognition is so handy!
6. Premium Members Only: Spotify Connect
With Spotify Connect, you can use your Spotify app as a remote to listen to music in your home speakers TVs, cars, games consoles, smart watches and more. (Of course, it works on additional phones, tablets, and computers too.)
Spotify vs. Other Music Streaming Apps
How does Spotify compare to other popular music stream apps? Let’s take a look at Soundcloud and Pandora.
Soundcloud: Great for House Music & Mashups
I admit, I use Soundcloud as my first choice in music and I pay $6 a month to be able to listen to my playlists offline. The reason why I use Soundcloud is because I really like their options for certain genres of music, including mashups and DJ mixes for house music.
Even though I enjoyed being a Premium member on Spotify for many years, I realized the music choices in this genre were limited. Soundcloud was a better alternative.
For other genres like indie rock and mainstream music, I think Spotify is the best choice simply because of the sheer volume of songs available. It was rare for Spotify to not have a particular song I was searching for.
Pandora: It’s My Backup App
I’ve been a longtime Pandora listener and was even a paid member for a while. I liked creating radio stations with my favorite artists and songs but found they recycled the same songs with not enough variation.
The interface also hasn’t really changed much over the years, and I find it very limiting to only be able to listen to music based on radio stations.
I switched back to the free version and use it from time to time when I feel like I want a change in music streaming apps. However, I don’t stay on Pandora for very long because of the relentless number of ads that are played between songs.
Listening to Music on Spotify: How Much Data Does It Use?
The amount of data you use will depend on the streaming quality you choose. The following should give you an idea of what to expect when listening to Spotify:
- One hour of music playback will use up around 50MB of data when the quality is set to normal
- You can play around 24 hours of music for about 1GB of data
- If you choose high quality, you can use up about 1GB of data in 7 hours
- Video eats up even more data
The three types of streaming quality on Spotify include:
- Normal: 96 kbps
- High-quality: 160 kbps
- Extreme quality: 320 kbps (only available to Premium members)
Of course, the best way to avoid using up so much data is to listen to Spotify when you’re on WiFi. If you’re a Premium member, you may consider saving songs so you can listen in “offline” mode.
Keep in mind this will use storage space on your smartphone but it could be a way to avoid using up so much data if you mostly stream your music outside of a WiFi connection.
I wrote a previous article about cell phone data plans and how to drastically scale back on using data.
Is Spotify Premium for You?
If you’ve tried other music apps and want to try something different, Spotify is definitely a top choice. Here are reasons you may want to join Spotify:
- You care what your friends/loved ones are listening to
- A huge selection of music is important to you
- You want an easy way to create your own playlists
- You want a seamless listening experience from all your devices from desktop to mobile device
If you’re a free user and are considering switching over to Premium, take the following into consideration — it may make the decision easier:
- You want to be able to listen to songs offline (because you travel frequently, don’t want to use too much data, etc.)
- You want to have more control over your music and prefer to have unlimited skips
- Streaming quality is important to you
If you’re on the fence, Spotify is offering three months of Premium for only $0.99.
Do you pay for your favorite streaming app? Let us know what apps you enjoy most!