Is Spotify Premium Worth It? Should You Look at Alternatives?

Author: James Potts | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

Spotify is the most popular music streaming service, with over 96 million subscribers and over 170 million users overall.

But to what does it owe this popularity? And is Spotify Premium worth it, or is it all just hype?

When looking at what makes something worth the money, it’s important to look at what you’re actually paying for. With Spotify, your subscription covers the cost of the advertisements that fund the free version.

Seeing what else is on the market is also worthwhile. Today’s streaming services are highly competitive, and each has different benefits. So is it worth upgrading?

Yes! Spotify Premium is worth it. No ads, higher audio quality, personalized playlists, and bigger music libraries are just a few of the reasons why it’s worth upgrading. Whether Spotify is the best choice, however, is up to you. But it’s fairly competitively priced and offers a gigantic library of songs.

What Makes Spotify Great?

A key feature of Spotify that not many other apps offer is a free version of the service. While most apps offer a free trial version that you can use before your subscription starts, with Spotify, you can continue using the free version forever and never spend a penny.

Free vs. Premium

But there are some concessions you have to make for free access to all that music.


This is the main one and the thing that drives most people to a paid subscription. Without a subscription fee, Spotify has to cover the cost of running a streaming service, and they do that with adverts.

If you have Spotify free, your listening experience will be interrupted every few songs with a short, unskippable advert. This can be really annoying and will completely pull you out of the listening experience.


Spotify has a massively limiting feature on its smartphone app (interestingly, not on its tablet or desktop app) that restricts free users to listening to shuffled playlists and albums. Currently, there are 15 selected playlists for free users to pick and play at will – everything else will shuffle!

Skipping and Replaying

With the free version of Spotify, users are limited to how many times they can skip and replay songs. Specifically, six skips an hour. In addition to this, users of the Spotify mobile app with a free account will not be able to repeat songs or playlists.

Audio Quality

For audiophiles, this is the biggest reason for upgrading to premium. In the free version of the app, streaming is limited to ‘normal quality,’ or 96kbps (kilobits per second), or ‘high quality,’ 160kbps.

Beyond that, only premium users have the option to opt for higher-fidelity streaming. With the paid version of the app, a “very high quality” feature is unlocked, which streams songs at 320kbps.

Offline Access to Songs

A major plus point for listeners who may not be able to access the internet at all times, the ability to download songs directly onto your device for offline listening is another feature that only unlocks with a paid Spotify subscription.

How Much Does Spotify Premium Cost?

The big question on everybody’s lips – how much does Spotify premium cost? Well, the going rate for a standard premium subscription is $9.99 a month.

Other subscription options are also available, like the premium for family option, which provides up to 6 users with their own premium account for $14.99 a month. The only catch is all users must live at the same address, so apart from roommates, this option is more for the family than friends.

Spotify also offers a Duo premium plan for two accounts, which costs $12.99 a month.

Finally, there is a student account for $4.99 upon provision of the relevant student documentation.

In terms of other music apps, it’s about the same across the board. Here’s how the other main music streaming apps compare with Spotify premium:

  • Apple Music
    • $9.99/month standard
    • $14.99/month family (6 accounts)
    • $4.99/month student
  • Tidal
    • $9.99/month Hi-Fi (standard)
    • $19.99/month Hi-Fi plus
    • $14.99/month Hi-Fi family (5 accounts)
    • $29.99/month Hi-Fi plus family (5 accounts)
    • $4.99/month Hi-Fi student
    • $9.99/month Hi-Fi plus student
    • $5.99/month Hi-Fi military/first responders
    • $11.99/month Hi-Fi plus military/first responders
  • YouTube Music
    • $9.99/month standard
    • $14.99/month family (6 accounts)
    • $4.99/month student
  • Amazon Music Unlimited
    • $9.99/month standard
    • $8.99/month standard with prime membership
    • $14.99/month family (only with prime)
    • $0.99/month student (for the first year with prime, $4.99 after the first year)
  • Deezer
    • $9.99/month standard
    • $14.99/month Hi-Fi + family plans
    • $4.99/month student

Wow! There are a lot of options there if you’re considering signing up for premium music streaming. And as you can see, they’re all pretty similar when it comes to the standard/family/student accounts.

Tidal has a lot of different plans available, and this is because they are focused on super-high-quality music. With a Tidal Master account, songs can be streamed at up to 9216kbps – provided the correct hardware and a fast internet connection are used.

The app prides itself on the bigger cut of royalties that goes to the artist.

But the price isn’t everything… What else separates the most popular streaming services from each other?

Audio Quality

When discussing audio quality, it’s only fair to mention that while some services do mention incredibly high bitrates in their ads, listening at this level of quality is not as straightforward as you might think.

This level of audio quality is only attainable on certain tracks, must be streamed with an incredibly fast internet connection, and played through high-end speakers or wired headphones.

In Tidal’s case, super-high-quality audio is only available with the $19.99 Super Hi-Fi plan.

Let’s get an overview of each platform’s capabilities:


Tidal uses a mix of FLAC and AAC file types, both of which are lossless formats. A selection of tracks is also available in MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) format, another new lossless codec. These are the bitrates for Tidal:

  • Normal Quality: 96 kbps (AAC)
  • High Quality: 320 kbps (AAC)
  • HiFi Quality: 16 bit – 44.1 kHz (equivalent to ~1411 kbps)
  • Tidal Masters: 24 bit – 192 kHz (equivalent to ~9216 kbps)


Spotify offers differing rates of quality for its free and premium account holders, whether you’re listening in a web player or on a desktop or mobile/tablet app. Spotify only uses MP3 formatted files. All the bit rates below are for the premium account:

  • Web player: ~256kbps
  • Low Quality: ~24kbps
  • Normal Quality: ~96kbps
  • High: ~160kbps
  • Very High: ~320kbps

Apple Music

Apple Music uses the AAC lossless format, which is a high-quality audio format. Until recently, this meant all music on the Apple Music platform would play at around 256kbps, but with the upgrading of the entire Apple Music library to ALAC format in June 2021, much higher bitrates are now streamable.

Again, these super high-quality files have the same hardware requirements as Tidal’s to be truly appreciated, and when only a poor data connection is available, songs will play at lower bitrates.

These are the minimum and maximum bit rates available on Apple Music:

  • Low Quality: 16 bit – 44.1 kHz (~850kbps – ~1411 kbps)
  • High Quality: 24 bit – 192 kHz (~3730kbps – ~9216 kbps)

YouTube Music

Although YouTube Music uses the lossless file type AAC, its highest-quality audio is still fairly unimpressive and is the basic standard on other platforms.

  • Low Quality: 48 kbps
  • Normal Quality: 128 kbps
  • High Quality: 256 kbps

Amazon Music Unlimited

Amazon is able to offer a range of audio qualities, from standard lossy files like Mp3 to ultra-HD lossless tracks. Here’s a breakdown of the service’s potential:

  • Standard Definition: ~96kbps – ~320kbps
  • HD Quality: 16 bit – 44.1 kHz (~850kbps)
  • Ultra-HD: 24 bit – 192 kHz (~3730kbps)


Deezer has three audio qualities available and uses two different file types: Mp3 for low and high quality and FLAC for Hi-FI. Higher quality is only available when using appropriate hardware and on desktop apps.

  • Low Quality (free account): 128 kbps
  • High Quality (premium account): 320 kbps
  • Best Quality (Hi-Fi account): ~1000 kbps

Music Library Size

Tied for first place are YouTube Music and Apple Music, which both boast over 100 million songs available to stream and download with their standard subscriptions.

Next up is Deezer, Tidal, and Amazon Music Unlimited, with 90 million+ tracks.

And finally is Spotify, with over 80 million tracks.


The usability of an app and how well it works for its users are just as important as audio quality and music library size.

Spotify is the winner in this round. The fact that it is the most used music streaming service speaks volumes for its ease of use and effective algorithm to generate recommended playlists for users. It’s worth noting that while the app is pretty responsive, it’s not bulletproof in terms of occasional lags and sluggishness.

Tidal is also rated highly by its customers for its sleek design and easy-to-use interface.

Apple Music, while loved by regular users of Apple products, probably for familiarity, doesn’t make quite such a big impression and lacks the personalized playlists that make Spotify so popular.

YouTube Music’s main strength is its desktop app, which outshines the other services, which generally focus more on mobile.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a music streaming service is no small task. With all the options out there, it can seem quite overwhelming. The main thing to remember is to consider what you want from the app.

If you’re not on a budget and are a serious audiophile, maybe Tidal is better for you.

If you only use Apple products, consider Apple Music.

But if you want a great app that functions smoothly and has the best recommendation algorithms out there, Spotify Premium is the one for you.

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About James Potts

James is an amateur guitarist and home-recording enthusiast. He loves all things music related - writing songs, playing in a band, and finding the best ways to listen to it. It all interests him, from the history of acoustic guitars, to the latest Bluetooth headphones, to his (ever-growing) collection of vinyl records.

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