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Spotify Free vs. Spotify Premium vs. Spotify Premium for Family

Spotify's free tier tries to cut most of these strings while you're on a computer, allowing you to play your music in the order you want with fewer ads. That said, those strings are still dangling, and they tangle and strangle free users on mobile devices.

Spotify Premium can be worth every penny on Android, but how many pennies you shell out depends on which plan you use.

Spotify Free

  • Access to over 30 million songs, curated playlists, algorithm-based radio stations and mixes, and podcasts while within the country
  • Ads when you open the app and during playback
  • Shuffle Play only on Android (no listening to albums in order)
  • No offline music
  • Basic sound quality

Spotify Free comes with some strings, but if you're a casual listener who primarily listens through the web player — or listens on shuffle anyway — Spotify Free can be tolerable.

Bless you for your saintly patience with those ads, especially the inescapable ad offering you a 30 day trial of Spotify Premium.

Spotify Premium

  • No ads
  • Play your songs/albums/playlists/mixes when and how you want
  • Download up to 3,333 songs for offline playback on up to 3 devices
  • Access to over 30 million songs, curated playlists, algorithm-based radio stations and mixes, and podcasts even while traveling outside the country
  • Control your music quality when downloading or streaming for high-quality sound or data-conscious playback
  • Listen to your music on other devices through Spotify Connect

Spotify Premium cuts the strings that held back Spotify Free users, allowing you to take full advantage of Spotify's library and masterful mixes. If you're looking to get Premium but want to avoid the monthly charge, consider investing in some Spotify gift cards, which you can keep as a balance on your account Spotify will burn through before it charges your card again. They also make good gifts for the Spotify users in your life.

Spotify Premium ($9.99/month)

Spotify Student

If you can prove you're a college student, you can enroll in Spotify Student, which now gives you access to both Spotify Premium and Hulu for $4.99 a month. Congrats! Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The Spotify Student subscription is ad-free, but the Hulu subscription is not, as it's the "Limited Commercials" subscription, such as the one you'd get for $7.99 as a non-student
  • You can be asked to re-verify your student status whenever Spotify asks, and if you can't, you'll lose the Hulu subscription and be bumped up to a regular Spotify Premium account
  • Spotify Student does eventually run out, and if you're not attentive to Spotify's emails and notifications, you could be bumped to a Spotify Premium plan without a chance to cancel or extend your student pricing

Spotify Student is one of Spotify's crown jewels, as many, many, many Student users are willing to be bumped to Premium accounts once they lose the discount because they get hooked on Spotify's library and features.

Spotify Student ($4.99/month)

Spotify Premium for Family

Now people can share Netflix and HBO subscriptions all the livelong day, but you can't do that with Spotify, even Spotify Premium. If you're playing something on the web player and someone opens the Android app, it's going to ask you if you want to stop listening on the web and start listening on Android. So what if you have three or four people in your house that want to listen to Spotify? That's where Premium for Family comes in:

  • See one $14.99 a month bill for up to 6 Premium accounts at the same address
  • Everyone gets their own Spotify Premium account, so no one's playlists interfere with anyone else's algorithmic recommendations

This sounds like a sweet deal, and you can see savings even with two members, so why doesn't everyone use a Premium for Family account? Well, here's what you need to be wary of before you try to sign up for one:

  • Everyone in your family plan has to be able to be verified as living at the same address. Per Spotify's FAQ: "If we're unable to verify the members of a Premium for Family plan, they are removed from the plan."
  • You cannot change the address of a Premium for Family plan, meaning if you move, the only way to quickly get a new Premium for Family plan is to delete your account, make a new account at your new address, and start your library over. Yikes.
  • You cannot use any specials with a Premium for Family plan. It cannot be combined with the Spotify-Sprint deal, nor can you use gift cards to pay for them.

If you join a Premium for Family plan that falls through, you can revert to a singular Premium plan, but you won't be able to join another Family plan for 12 months.

If all of this sounds like a bit of a pain, there's always Google Play Music + YouTube Red or Apple Music family plans, which don't care what addresses you're registered at.

What made you go Premium?

What's holing you back from premium?

What tipped the scales for you to upgrade to Spotify Premium? Was it retaking control of your playlists or unlocking high-quality streaming? Did the Student or Family discount sway you towards their particular plans? Let us know - and let us know what you're listening to!

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

15 Comments
  • got a great deal per month when I signed up and they have yet to raise the price (from my deal) I find tons of songs I can't get on iTunes for my ipod. so for short trips I just use my phone and spotify. instead of also having an ipod. easier to throw a friend my phone and they can put on there jams without messing with Bluetooth. or the headphone jack. plus the discover playlist usually has something for the music mood im in.
  • The Family Plan looks good but why do UK residents get stung again. £14.99 in UK against 14.99 dollars US. Have they not heard of something called "exchange rate"? Still might go for it though.
  • I used to wonder about that too, but anytime you see a price for the UA remember they put the sales tax on at the point of sale.
    So it won't be quite the difference it first appears to be.
  • Being a student the Hulu and Spotfiy Premium are a good deal, but will later consider the Google play and YouTube red
  • Just remember: get a bottle of your choice and pick a weekend when you intend to switch and add all the music from your Spotify library to your Google Play Music library. It will take a while.
  • I went with Google Play Music instead because they pay artists more than Spotify. I tried both before choosing and I also preferred GPM as an app over Spotify. It's just a shame there's no official desktop app but I use my phone instead.
  • Tried Apple's music service, Google's and Spotify. Much prefer Spotify. I use it more than SiriusXM.
  • It's hard to justify Spotify premium vs Google play paid version with all the additional features they add-in (youtube red, youtube music). I love Spotify's interface and new music discovery way more than google but I've downgraded to the free version and decided to pay for Google Play music.I wish Google had a $5 Youtube Red only thing. Thay way I'd feel better about using both.
  • I used Spotify for years for free. Especially when it was desktop only. When they released the Android app and made it premium I made the switch. I loved spotify for the fact that I no longer had to download (illegally :/ ) the music I want and keep it organized by some means. Instead of 2-3 harddrives with all my music backed up for fear of losing it, I could now pay a nominal fee for all the music I wanted and without ads. I listen to music all the time so $10 a month (less on the family plan split 6 ways) seems like a bargain. I was willing to pay for the service when it just gave me a huge catalog of music to listen to but the truth is that it's only gotten better. From the weekly playlists, to the years in review, the radio mixes, etc. Spotify would be the last subscription service I'd let go of if I had to.
  • Similar situation here. I had two 18TB servers that a portion was used for music. Obtained through ripping of CDs or downloads. Maintaining the servers and the music catalog was fun for a few years..
    It gets to be a hassle, and you find less new music overall. Been a Spotify subscriber since 2011/12. And wouldn't want to give it up. My music selection is greater than I could ever accumulate, and it just plays when I want. Google play just isn't the same, and I don't really need YouTube red.
  • I moved to premium because I was a dedicated Groove Music user. When Microsoft partnered with Spotify, it was great having a nice transition into it. Loving it!
  • I got a pretty good deal on Spotify for three months. So I'm checking it out right now. I like that I can log on from a different phone and still control my music simultaneously that was pretty cool. But I think I will go back to my T-mobile 4.99 plan on Napster. They have a neat UI and I like their album covers lot more.
  • Unlimited data? Hacked Spotify apk FTW, lol! Although I'm grandfathered on Google Play Music at $7.99 which I primarily use YouTube Music for stuff not on either Spotify, Apple or Google Music My kids use Apple Music on their iPhones and I do too occasionally on my Fiio X5 (it has better SD card support, lol!)
  • The Spotify premium family plan was a no brainer for me. Especially when you take into account the fact that capital one will pay for half of your Spotify subscription, even the family plan.
  • Premium for album listening! and HQ audio