Make the Most of the Spotify Free Plan
Spotify’s free product is a strong introduction to the full Spotify experience. But those on a free plan get only the tip of the iceberg in terms of all the benefits.
You have to deal with three drawbacks to having a free account (and they’re big ones):
Time and play restrictions, which come into effect after six months
You also get a load of other benefits as an Unlimited or Premium subscriber that you don’t on a Free plan.
Spotify Free time and play restrictions
Everyone has instant access to Spotify’s massive catalogue, but as you probably know, those on the limited Free plan get only a certain amount of listening time after six months of use.
It works like this: You enjoy unlimited listening for the first six months — an almost unbeatable introduction to the service. But then, after six months, the restrictions kick into your account: From now on, you get only 21/2 hours of free streaming per week and can save up to only 10 hours of free listening time per month.
What’s more, you can listen to a song only five times. Ever. Yep, after five plays, Spotify tells you to upgrade your account or buy the track from its store.
Some sneaky types are thinking: Why not sign up to Spotify over and over again, using a fresh e-mail address I’ve created through a free webmail account, and subscribing to my own playlists I created earlier?
Well, you could do that, but you’d have to import all your friends again (difficult if they aren’t all Facebook friends). As of September 2011, all new Spotify accounts require an associated Facebook login. You’d need to keep setting up a new Facebook account in order to use Spotify, and then you’d miss out on most of the social music-sharing features that make music discovery so fun.
All that effort, when the Unlimited plan gets rid of the ads, has no time limits, and costs as little as £5 a month? You can barely get a decent lunch for that price nowadays — bringing a homemade sandwich into work once a month means you can pay for your Spotify.
Advertisements on Spotify Free
With a Free account, every few songs, you have to sit through a broadcast advertisement. Many people are happy to put up with the ads because they’re short, and you definitely hear a lot less advertising than you would on commercial radio stations.
But the ads do tend to interrupt the flow of your listening experience — you can’t skip them unless you pay to get rid of them, and you can’t press Mute on your computer to silence them either because this just pauses the ad until you un-mute!
Banner ads, skyscraper ads, and other marketing phenomena also clutter your Spotify window, using up precious real estate. These ads aren’t massively intrusive.
Spotify does try to provide targeted messages based on location and demographics, so the ads aren’t always completely irrelevant, and occasionally, they even let listeners click a banner ad to hear a specific album from a featured artist.
Roaming restrictions for Spotify Free
Those of you who have a Free account are barred from accessing your music from abroad after 14 days of use, unless you upgrade. Spotify knows the country you’re connecting from, and if you aren’t logging in from one of the places in which it operates, you get told off and blocked (in the nicest possible way).
People who think they can bypass the restrictions may be sorely disappointed because they can’t even log into the Preferences screen after the 14-day limit.