Spotify is a digital audio streaming platform that is available as a free or premium service. Its free service offers access to a robust library of copyright-restricted content with advertisements and limited features. Paid subscribers have more control over the content they consume without advertisements.

Music, podcasts, and audio books can be added to a user’s playlist or saved to an online library, but it cannot be downloaded, exported, or otherwise saved locally to a user’s device. Spotify is supported by numerous mobile devices, computer operating systems, web browsers, smart home devices, gaming consoles, and automotive audio systems. However, streaming is restricted to one device at a time, meaning users cannot stream audio from a smartphone and a web browser simultaneously on the same account.

History of Spotify

Spotify was launched in 2008 by two Swedish entrepreneurs in response to the prevalence of music piracy with platforms like Napster and LimeWire. Initially, it was available in the United Kingdom on an invitation-only basis. Spotify became available to users in the United States in 2011 shortly after it reached one million paid subscribers in Europe. In March 2012, it removed streaming duration limits for free subscriptions, and one year later it had more than doubled its active user count to 24 million, a quarter of which were paying for the service.

Spotify opened its first U.S. office in New York City in 2017 and has continued to experience significant growth. It debuted on the New York Stock Exchange above its reference price in April 2018, and in 2019, it surpassed Pandora as the top audio streaming service in the United States. It is currently available in 92 markets globally, has 320 million active monthly users, and maintains more than 60 million tracks in its music library.

Spotify account types

In general, Spotify has two main account types: free and Premium. Both account types allow access to Spotify’s entire library of songs, audio books, and podcasts with a few caveats. Unlike users with free accounts, Premium subscribers can travel abroad with their music for more than 14 days, pick and play any track on a mobile device, listen without an internet connection, and enjoy the highest music quality with no advertising interruptions. In addition to an individual Premium account, Spotify also offers three subscription plans that fit some users’ unique needs:

  • Premium Student: A Premium account that’s discounted at 50% for up to four years for students who are enrolled at accredited colleges and universities. The current price of Premium Student is $4.99/month USD and also includes access to Hulu and SHOWTIME streaming services.
  • Premium Duo: A subscription that provides two Premium accounts at one discounted price for two users who live together (a shared street address is required for both Premium Duo users). With this subscription, both users have access to a combined “Duo Mix” playlist that is regularly updated with music recommendations based on each user’s music tastes. The current price of Premium Duo is $12.99/month USD.
  • Premium Family: A subscription that provides up to six Premium accounts for users living at one address (a shared street address is required for all Premium Family users). With this subscription, the managing user is able to restrict explicit content for individual users, and all users have access to a combined “Family Mix” playlist that is regularly updated with music recommendations based on each user’s music tastes. The current price of Premium Family is $14.99/month USD.

Spotify vs. competitors

Spotify has a number of competitors in the audio streaming market. The table below offers a few comparisons of Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon Music, and YouTube Music.


Apple Music


Amazon Music Unlimited

YouTube Music


Parent company



Sirius XM Holdings



Music library size

60 million

70 million

30 million

50 million

40 million







Maximum streaming quality






Free account?

Yes, with ads


Yes, with ads

Yes, with ads

Yes, with ads

Pricing (USD)





$9.99 (as standalone product)

Spotify for Artists and Podcasters

In April 2020, Spotify announced that it would be merging its Spotify Analytics with Spotify for Artists. Currently, artists (and their managers, labels, and distributors) are able to manage their photos, biographical information, featured tracks/playlists, merchandise, and tour schedules. They can also track performance over time and pitch songs to relevant playlists. Most recently, Spotify launched its Spotify for Podcasters platform that offers similar metrics, dashboards, and reporting for podcast performance.

Kaiti Norton
Kaiti Norton
Kaiti Norton is a Nashville-based Content Writer for TechnologyAdvice, a full-service B2B media company. She is passionate about helping brands build genuine connections with their customers through relatable, research-based content. When she's not writing about technology, she's sharing her musings about fashion, cats, books, and skincare on her blog.

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