What is Spotify and how does it work?

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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.

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.

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 and 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”.

How much data does Spotify use?

The amount of data that Spotify burns through will depend on the streaming quality you choose – more on this in a minute. This is a rough guide for how much data Spotify will get through:

  • One hour of music playback will use around 50MB of data when the quality is set to “normal”.
  • At normal quality, you can play around 24 hours of music for around 1GB of data usage.
  • At high-quality 1GB will be used in less than 15 hours.
  • At extreme quality, you’ll use 1GB of data in 7 hours.
  • You’ll use a lot more data with video playback.

You can check and change the quality of streaming and download of songs using mobile data in the settings on your device.

High-quality streaming and audio quality

There are four different levels of streaming quality for Spotify. Streaming is all done in the Ogg Vorbis format and uses the following bitrates for each of the quality levels:

  • Low at 24kbps
  • Normal streams at 96kbps
  • High at 160kbps
  • Very High streams at 320kbps

The quality level you use will depend on your preference and choices around data usage but it’s worth noting that Very High is only available to Spotify Premium subscribers. Also with the web player, Spotify free users only get access to 128kbit/s quality vs 256kbit/s for premium users.

Spotify Friends activity


How to find people and friends on Spotify

Signing up to Spotify with Facebook or connecting your Facebook account at a later date will allow you to easily find and follow friends and see what they’re listening to.

The activity feed is displayed on the right-hand side of the desktop software and is a great way to pick up on friends who listen to the same music as you or poke fun at them for their latest ABBA session.

You can also use the search function within the app to find friends. Head into your profile in settings and tap on the “Find Friends” button, which will allow you to find and follow more friends or artists.

If you’re not on Facebook or don’t want to connect your Facebook account to Spotify you can still find and follow friends, it just might be a bit more difficult in some cases.

According to Spotify, the best way to find and follow a friend is to use the search box on the desktop client and use this format:


Copy this and replace USERNAME with the name of your friend. If this doesn’t work, ask your friend to either copy their profile link directly from their profile page and send it to you. Alternatively, ask if they can share one of their public playlists with you. If they created the playlist, then their username is contained within the URL as a number:

You can either use that number to find them or click on their name in the playlist to follow them. For more detailed guidance on finding friends on Spotify, see Spotify’s official tutorial.

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Spotify playlists, radio and discovering new music

Creating a playlist is as easy as right-clicking a song and clicking “Add to Playlist” or clicking the three dots next to a song on the app.

Grab your favourite songs and stick them in a playlist for your personal listening pleasure. Once you get started you’ll soon find you’re following playlists made by friends or curated by artists.

Spotify is smart too, the more you listen, the more it learns the sort of music you like and that has an impact on the music it will present to you in future. When you delve into the “Home” section of the app you’ll find a number of recommendations based on your recent listening choices. This includes artists similar to those you’ve already been listening to, as well as your “Discover Weekly”, “Release Radar”, “Top Songs of [year]” and “Family Mix” playlists, among others.

What is Discovery Weekly?

“Discover Weekly” is a playlist that’s automatically updated by Spotify each Monday and includes a number of different songs based on what you’ve been listening to recently.

What is Release Radar?

“Release Radar” is a selection of new tracks from artists you follow. It’s worth noting here that if you follow your favourite musicians you’ll get notifications and updates when they release new content too.

What about the other mixes?

“Family Mix” combines music listened to by anyone in a Premium for Family subscription and you can choose between Chill or Upbeat.

“Top Songs of [year] is all the songs you’ve loved the most in the previous year.

To discover new music, you can either tap on the “Home” tab where you’ll find plenty of options, or you can go to the “Search” tab to search for new content by category and genre. These are great ways to discover new music that’s similar to your current taste but ones that you might not have otherwise listened to.

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What is Spotify Enhance?

In September 2021, Spotify released a nifty update to its mobile app to help you upgrade your playlists.

Enhance is a button you can press that sits at the top of your playlists. Tapping the button fleshes out the playlist with extra songs along similar lines. Personalise music recommendations based on your current listening habits.

The enhance button adds extra songs to your playlist, interspersed between those already added by yourself. You’ll get one extra song after every two of your own tracks with a maximum of 30 extra ones being added to your playlist.

If you like what you see then you can click the plus button to add each track permanently. If you’re not a fan of the additions you can click enhance again and it’ll remove what was added like an undo button. Enhance is rolling out to multiple regions, if you don’t see it now, you should in future.

Spotify bluetooth connectivity


Spotify Bluetooth connectivity

One of the obvious benefits of Spotify is if you’re using it on your phone then you can connect to a wealth of different Bluetooth devices and stream your content that way. Whether that means a home audio receiver, head unit in your car, Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth-connected speaker – there are plenty of possibilities. With Spotify Premium you can also take advantage of Spotify Connect.

What is Spotify Connect?

Spotify Connect allows you to play your music through a variety of different Wi-Fi-connected devices including everything from Wi-Fi speakers to your television, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Chromecast, PC and much more.

This is great because it means you can listen to your music in more places and with more devices. It also offers you a choice in how you control the music playing on your Spotify account. For example, if you’re streaming to speakers in your lounge using your phone then you can use it as a remote control to adjust the volume, change tracks or create a party playlist while listening.

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Spotify connectivity with Amazon Echo and Google Home

If you’re the proud owner of a smart home speaker like Google Home or Amazon Echo then listening to your favourite tunes on Spotify is also a breeze. All you need to do is set up Spotify as your primary music service inside the relevant app, then use your voice to command the speakers to play whatever you want.

If you have multiple devices you can also take advantage of multi-room audio functionality to broadcast Spotify tunes throughout your home. Connecting and creating groups for these devices, then broadcasting music or a playlist to those groups with your voice is a straightforward affair and one of the highlights of owning an AI-powered smart speaker.

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What is Spotify Pets?

Spotify has apparently carried out some research and found that a large percentage of pet owners specifically play tunes for their pets.

To help create the perfect listening experience for pet owners, the company has created a tool to help you create a pets playlist. Getting started with it is easy too:

  1. Visit the Spotify Playlist mini-site
  2. Login to your account
  3. Click to choose your pet whether dog, cat, iguana, hamster or bird
  4. Choose a mood and add some info about your pet
  5. Add their name
  6. Click to create the playlist and start listening

These pet-centric playlists are based on your musical preference, only catering to your pet’s mood and disposition.

Spotify Kids

Spotify Kids is an app specifically designed for young children who are part of a household that already has a Spotify Premium plan.

This app caters to children listening from age three and up and is designed to be “safe” and private too. As you’d expect, the music here is more interactive with singalong songs, film soundtracks and even stories.

Listening content on this app also includes tunes hand-picked by a dedicated team of editors to ensure great listening for your little ones.

The app is also designed to be kid-friendly to make it engaging and user-friendly too.

It’s still rolling out, but is available in several regions including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, UK, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand and more. Like the main Spotify app, Spotify Kids is also available for both Android and iOS devices.

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 £16.99/$15.99, Premium for Family isn’t too much extra over a standard Premium plan price, so it’s a worthy investment. There’s also Spotify Duo that costs £13.99/$13.99 a month for two Premium accounts.

For students, there’s a discounted plan that costs just £5.99/$4.99 a month.

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.

Where can you use Spotify for free?

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.

What do you get with Spotify Premium?

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 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.

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.

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What are Spotify Codes?

Spotify Codes is a feature from Spotify that allows users to easily share music with friends and family, as well as their account for others to follow.

You can use it to generate a unique code for a song, album, playlist or your profile, and then get someone else to scan the code to share it with their device and allow them to enjoy it too or follow you.

Spotify Codes works on both iPhone and Android devices, in order to use it you just need to click the ‘…’ button next to what you want to share and you’ll see a pop-up with the album, song or playlist artwork and the code sits underneath. Click that code to zoom so the other person can scan it.

On the other device, tap on the search tab at the bottom, then tap the search bar at the top. There is a camera icon in the top right, which if you launch, you’ll then be able to simply scan the code. Spotify Codes is open to everyone.

Outside of Spotify Codes, you can also easily directly share songs from Spotify across a number of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Tumblr or just a straight link to copy a usable link to wherever you want on the web. Simply right-click on desktop or press the three dots on mobile on the song, album, artist or playlist you want to share and select the appropriate service.

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What is Spotify Time Capsule?

Spotify regularly releases updates to its service to help improve your listening experience. This includes tailored playlists and discovery voyages to help you expand your musical horizons and find new artists you’re likely to enjoy.

Sometimes though, they just add quirky lists which show how well they know you based on your current listening trends. Time Capsule is one example of this wizardry.

This is a personalised playlist which picks out around 60 tracks that you would have listened to as you were growing up. It’s a collection of throw-back songs that’ll fill you with nostalgic joy.

We found Time Capsule to be pretty accurate, scarily so in fact, but it obviously requires Spotify to have a good working knowledge of your musical taste, so get listening!

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What are Spotify 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 to. 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.

Spotify 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 occasions 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.

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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.

Spotifty Audio enhancements

How to make Spotify sound better

Some audio snobs will tell you that Spotify’s quality isn’t good enough, we think it sounds great but there are things you can do to make it sound even better.

Dive into the settings on the app and you’ll see various settings that you can turn on or tweak in order to improve the listening quality. If you’re not worried about data use then it’s worth changing some of these.

  • Normalise volume – there’s an option in the settings to set the same volume for all songs. This way you won’t suddenly find one is louder than another and you’ll have a more pleasant experience. You can also adjust the volume level to your preference in here, choosing from loud, normal and quiet options
  • Audio quality – the sound options including the ability to adjust quality. There are options both for Wi-Fi and cellular listening here. Select very high from the drop-down to make the quality better but keep in mind this will use more data.
  • Equaliser – scroll down in the sound settings and you can access the equaliser. From there you can adjust the settings for this including choosing from various presets like classical, dance, hip hop and more.

How to delete your Spotify account

If you decide you no longer want your Spotify account, you can delete it. It is worth noting though, that you can downgrade from Premium to a free account, so if cost is the issue then we’d recommend considering that first.

If you’re still keen on deleting your Spotify account, then follow these steps:

  1. Visit Spotify’s Support page on how to close your account.
  2. Login to your Spotify account.
  3. Click this link to delete your account.

If this doesn’t work, then you can also try this method:

  1. Login and go directly to Spotify’s Contact Support page.
  2. Choose ‘account’ as the category.
  3. Select ‘I want to close my Spotify account permanently’.
  4. Then click to close your account or cancel your subscription

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