What is Spotify and how does it work

Spotify is a digital music streaming service that gives you access to millions of songs, podcasts and videos from artists all over the world, like Apple Music and Amazon Music Unlimited. 

Spotify is immediately appealing because you can access content for free by simply signing up using an email address or by connecting with Facebook. If you’re not keen on monthly subscription fees for Spotify Premium, or just want to dip your toe in and test it out, it’s easy to get started and there’s no commitment.

You can find out the main differences between Spotify Free and Premium in our separate feature but as a quick summary, the free version is ad-supported, much like radio stations. The free version of Spotify can be accessed on PC, laptop and mobile phone, but the full service needs a Spotify Premium subscription.

How does Spotify work?

Getting started with listening to music on Spotify is easy:

  1. Visit the Spotify website and sign-up. We’d recommend signing up with Facebook if you have an account as it’ll make it easier to find and follow friends, see what they’re listening to and share songs with them.
  2. Choose a subscription level. We’d recommend going for Spotify Premium as it gives you access to more features, is more flexible and will connect with more devices.
  3. Download and install the free Spotify application. There are versions for desktop and iPhone/iPad and Android phones.
  4. Sign into your account on those devices and get listening.

The basic setup is pretty straightforward but there’s much more to Spotify once you delve in and it gets smarter the more you listen.

How does Spotify work

Can you download music from Spotify?

Yes and no. With Spotify Premium you can set music to be available “offline” but it’s not the same as downloading music in the traditional sense. For example, you can’t try to game the system by downloading an album then cancelling your subscription at a later date. And you can’t download the tracks to burn them to a CD or copy them to other devices.

The idea of Spotify’s offline mode is to allow you to have access to your favourite music when you’re trying to save mobile data or travelling somewhere where access to the internet might not be easy.

With Spotify Premium you can have up to 10,000 songs available to listen to offline on up to five different devices. Downloading songs, albums or playlists on Spotify is simple too, which is great. Just switch the toggle next to Download on the album you’d like to download to listen offline. Alternatively, click the three dots in the top right and click “Download”.

What are Daily Mix Playlists?

Spotify learns what you like as you use it. The more you listen, the more intelligent it becomes. This music streaming service is brilliant for this sort of intelligence. Automatic playlists are then created based on your preferences.

This includes automated playlists like Summer Rewind which features all the songs you’ve been listening to the most over the last few months. 

Daily Mix playlists are slightly different, they’re like a radio station which mixes your favourite tunes with similar music Spotify thinks you’ll enjoy. Multiple Daily Mix playlists are available for the different styles or genres of music you listen too. These individual mixes keep playing for as long as you want to listen and can be improved by liking the songs you enjoy or removing the ones you don’t. 

Like Discover Weekly, Daily Mix playlists are a great way to discover new music that you’ll love. 

How much is Spotify?

Spotify comes in two main forms – free and Premium. Spotify Premium is £9.99/$9.99 a month, which includes access to features such as ad-free streaming, unlimited skips, extreme quality streaming and Spotify Connect.

If multiple people in your house use Spotify, you might consider Premium for Family which gives up to six people access to their own unique Spotify account under one bill. All users have to live at the same address so it’s not a package to include your friends on, but it’s a good way to split the cost.

At £14.99/$14.99, Premium for Family isn’t too much extra over a standard Premium plan price, so it’s a worthy investment.

For students, there’s a discounted plan that costs just £4.99/$4.99 a month. 

How much is Spotify

What do you get with Spotify Free?

You can use Spotify for free, but its features are limited. On the free plan, music can be played in shuffle mode and you can skip up to six times per hour, every hour. Spotify Radio isn’t available, but you can access Daily Mix playlists. 

With the Spotify free plan, you can access all playlists, discover new music and share tunes with friends. You can also play any playlist, album, or artist but only while in Shuffle Play mode.

Spotify is free to use on mobile, desktop or tablet – so it’s accessible with ease, wherever you are. You can access the free version using the smartphone app, desktop software or website. 

Spotify’s Premium tier gives you access to everything but doesn’t force adverts – whether you’re listening on desktop, mobile, or tablet.

Premium users can also skip any track, listen offline, hear high-quality music and use the Spotify app on their mobile device as a computer remote control.

Premium users can play any song they want (on demand), as well as find and hear playlists, discover new music, create and edit playlists, plus share music and playlists.

Podcasts

Spotify is more than just a music streaming service. If you have a Spotify account you can also use it to listen to thousands of different podcasts that include everything from comedy to sports, lifestyle, news and more.

These podcasts are available in both the app and desktop browser and it’s easy to hunt down and follow your favourite podcasts and access the latest episodes wherever you are. 

Private listening mode

Listening on Spotify can be a social experience. If you’ve connected Spotify to your Facebook account, for example, then friends and family will be able to see what you’re listening to and you can share your favourite songs with them.

There might be occasion though where you don’t want people to know that you’re listening to a certain album or song on constant repeat. We all have the guilty pleasure that we don’t need the world knowing about.

Spotify accounts for this with a “private listening mode” that you can activate from the settings in the app, under Social, and a quick click of a button on the desktop browser.