Spotify: Everything you need to know!

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Spotify is one of the most popular streaming services in the world. According to Business Insider by way of Edison Research, it's the second most popular audio streaming service next to Pandora. It pretty much has it all, from the biggest artists of today and yesteryear to the indie artists that only your cool cousin Chaz has heard of.

Here's everything you need to know about Spotify!

May 25, 2018: Spotify is rolling back its XXXTentacion policy after backlash

On May 10, Spotify announced it would endeavor to eradicate hate speech and punish artists for misconduct, but following backlash from artists and some of its own employees, it plans to change the nascent policy going forward, though no final decisions have been made.

From Bloomberg:

The company singled out R. Kelly, the R&B singer who has been dogged by accusations of statutory rape, as well as XXXTentacion, a rapper charged with battering a pregnant woman.Spotify stopped including the artists in its playlists, though customers can still find the music on their own.

Being two months shy of its stock market debut, Spotify is now reconsidering things in order to make amends with artists. Reps for various artists, including Kendrick Lamar, threatened to pull their music if Spotify goes forward with current policy.

Stemming from the #MeToo movement, Spotify's policy has been condemned over censorship complaints and has even sparked some internal dissent, according to Bloomberg's sources.

Spotify revamps its mobile app, adds on-demand listening for free users

During a recent event in New York City, Spotify talked about a heap of new goodies that are in the works for its mobile app and free users.

Looking first at the new app, there are visual changes in tow for just about everything – including the search page, now playing tab, and more. The bottom navigation bar is also less cluttered, and Spotify says it's currently in the process of pushing the new UI to all of its users.

Spotify's main focus was clearly on its free members, however, and there's a lot in the pipeline for them.

Perhaps the biggest feature for free users is the ability to listen to certain titles on-demand. Free Spotify members have previously been limited to listening to only shuffled playlists, but now they'll be able to pick and choose which songs they want to listen to as many times as they'd like – as long as those songs are offered in one of Spotify's personalized playlists (such as Discover Weekly, Daily Mix, etc.)

Speaking of playlists, Spotify's also adding "assisted playlisting" to the free version of its mobile app. Previously reserved for Premium subscribers, this will show recommended tracks to add to a playlist you're creating based on what's currently in it.

Along with all this, free members will also be able to turn on a new data-saver mode that'll decrease data usage by as much as 75%.

While these new features for Spotify's free service are great to see, there are still plenty of reasons to pay for its Premium offering. If you want to get rid of ads, listen to any song on-demand, or download your tunes for offline listening, you'll still need to cough up 10 bucks each month.

Spotify and Hulu can now be purchased together for just $12.99/month

In the world of streaming services, Spotify's the top dog when it comes to music and Hulu's one of the most popular for TV/movies. Just like the winning combos of PB + J and ketchup + mayo, Spotify and Hulu are now joining forces so you can subscribe to both platforms for one monthly fee.

For just $12.99/month, you'll get access to Spotify Premium and Hulu's base plan that includes limited commercials. Billing is handled through Spotify, and compared to subscribing to both services individually for a combined cost of $17.99/month, you're looking at a savings of $5 every month.

If you already have Spotify Premium and either never subscribed to Hulu or canceled your account at least 12 months ago, you can pay $0.99/month extra for three months of Hulu before making the jump to the full $12.99 fee.

This offer is similar to the Spotify + Hulu student bundle that was released last September that costs just $4.99/month for both services, and while this new package isn't quite as amazing, it's still a great deal for people that already use both services anyways. Current Spotify Premium customers can sign up for it right now, and it'll roll out to everyone during the summer.

April 6, 2018 - Spotify may announce its first hardware product on April 24

This past February, Spotify created multiple job listings for "hardware production" positions. We initially speculated that the streaming service could be working on a smart speaker to go against the Amazon Echos and Google Homes of the world, but new information suggests that the company will be taking a rather different approach.

On Reddit and Spotify's own support forums, multiple users have claimed to receive a pop-up in the Spotify app for some sort of music player or controller that goes in your car. The device in question looks like a puck and you'll find green lighting around the edge and what's likely a touchscreen display in the middle.

There are two physical buttons on the left for shuffling a playlist and going back a track, and that's about it. Some users apparently saw different variations of the ad, with one saying Amazon Alexa functionality was touted while others report that Spotify was promoting 4G LTE connectivity so the device could work without a connection to your phone's data. These pop-ups were noticed at some point in February, but they've been nowhere to be seen since.

The image of the gadget was accompanied by a pre-order button and a note that the device and a subscription to Spotify's music service would cost $12.99/month with a 12-month commitment for a total of $155. On that same note, however, another user was apparently shown a price of $14.99/month.

Right now, there's still a lot that's unknown about this thing. Will it have a built-in speaker, or will it simply tap into your car's existing audio system? How will it work with older cars that don't have Bluetooth? If it has 4G LTE, will that be another monthly fee users have to pay for?

Although we may have a lot of questions, we likely won't have to wait too much longer before they're answered. On April 6, Spotify announced that it'll be holding a "news announcement" on April 24 in New York City. Is this where we'll get more info on this mystery car dohickey? If I were a betting man, I'd say there's a pretty good chance that's exactly what happens.

November 17, 2017 - The Spotify app now supports iPhone X displays

Die-hard Spotify users rejoice: the music streaming service has finally updated its iOS app to make the best use of your iPhone X's 5.8 inch OLED screen. Prior to the update users had to deal with distracting letterboxing while using the app, which hindered their ability to see all they should have been able to see while viewing tracklists, searching for songs, and checking out album art.

Given that Spotify is one of the most popular apps around, music or otherwise, it's a bit of a surprise that the company would be so late to the iPhone X party. Many other highly downloaded apps were quick to update their interfaces to fit the display dimensions the new flagship model, and since Apple published its human interface guidlines{.nofollow}, there have been multiple developers releasing brand new iPhone X apps built from the ground up. However, Spotify's status as a smartphone staple may have played a part in the delay — it's better to wait for a reliable, beloved company to do something well than to suffer the errors and subsequent backlash of a rushed job.

September 14, 2017: Spotify launches iMessage app for easy music sharing

Though as of right now the app hasn't been officially announced by Spotify, it quietly went live today, and allows you to search for and share music with your friends with just a few easy taps.

If you have iOS 11 and Spotify already installed, all you have to do to get the app is:

  1. Tap the App Store icon in iMessage.
  2. Scroll through the apps on the bottom until you see "More."
  3. Tap on "More."
  4. Turn on the Spotify iMessage app by tapping "Edit" and using the toggle next to it to switch it on.

When you send songs with the app, it will give the receiver a 30-second song preview and display the album art, song title and artist info. They can then tap it to listen to the full version in the Spotify app if they have it installed. This is a bit different from Spotify competitor Apple Music, which allows you to play then entire song right in iMessage.

September 8, 2017 - Spotify no longer lets you stream music in Apple's Safari browser

In a post yesterday on Spotify Community, user riegelstamm lamented they could no longer use Spotify in their Safari web browser despite the fact that Spotify's system requirements page said that the service was compatible with Safari 6 or higher. They contacted Spotify, and a bit later updated the post with the subsequent response:

After taking a look backstage, we can confirm that after recent updates Safari is no longer a supported browser for Web Player. We're always testing things by adding or removing features to make Spotify better overall. We're sorry that this means you're not able to use the Web Player like you could before. We can't say if or when any specific features will be back. But as soon as we've got anything to announce, we'll let everyone know via the Spotify Community.

Sure enough, if you look on the system requirements page today, you'll see that Safari is no longer on the list of browsers supported by Spotify. The list now only includes Chrome 45+, Firefox 47+, Edge 14+, and Opera 32+. When Safari users attempt to stream music in the browser, they receive an error message saying "This browser doesn't support Spotify Web Player. Switch browsers or download Spotify for your desktop."

It seems some individuals who don't wish to install the desktop player or switch browsers - riegelstamm included - plan to take their music streaming elsewhere if Spotify doesn't restore Safari support.

September 7, 2017 - Spotify and Hulu have joined forces to offer an amazing bundle to students

In a press release on Hulu's website, the companies announced that Spotify Premium for Students, now with Hulu, will launch today nationwide - just in time for the school year.

The first-of-its-kind entertainment bundle will offer students immediate access to ad-free Spotify Premium as well as Hulu's Limited Commercials plan for only $4.99 per month. This means students will be able to stream Hulu originals like "The Handmaid's Tale" and "The Mindy Project" in addition to wildly popular fan-favorites like NBC comedy "Parks and Recreation" and gripping horror-drama "The Walking Dead."

What's more, the bundle is available to all qualifying new and existing Spotify premium subscribers, so if you're already using Spotify Premium for Students, you won't be left out. All you have to do is activate Hulu by verifying your student status. However, if you are a student but you're part of a Spotify Premium for Family plan, you'll have to cancel your subscription and sign up for the new package. If you're afraid of losing your account's content by doing this, don't worry - Spotify says that switching plans won't cost you your playlists.

The same rule applies if you're a student with an existing Hulu Limited Commercials plan. As long as you don't have any premium network add-ons and you can verify your student status, your account can be merged into Spotify Premium for Students + Hulu.

Alex Norstrom, Chief Business Premium Business Officer at Spotify, seemed to say it best:

In bringing Spotify and Hulu together, we're now able to offer students – both the millions already on Spotify Premium, and those who are new to Spotify – access to the world's best music, TV and movie content in the simplest possible way.

Now all the rest of us non-students have to do is hope and pray that Spotify and Hulu expand this beautiful partnership to a wider market. Sign me up!

April 10, 2017 - Jay Z's solo catalog has been removed from Spotify

It seems that rapper Jay Z, also known as Shawn Carter, has removed most of his work from Spotify. All of the artist's solo work seems to have disappeared from the service, with only collaborations with other artists still available. It should be noted that Jay Z is a co-owner of Tidal, a competitor to Spotify.

As noted by MacRumors, there has been no definitive explanation given for the removal at this time:

Jay Z's albums appear to have been removed from Spotify recently … Spotify on Twitter today said it can "confirm that some of Jay Z's catalogue has been removed at the request of the artist," but it did not provide a specific reason.

At this time, Jay Z's catalog remains available for purchase on the iTunes Store. It seems likely that in the current streaming music environment, services look for any competitive advantage that they can find, and Jay Z, a popular artist with a large following, may sway some customers Tidal's way.

What is Spotify?

It's quite simply a music streaming library. Think of it like your music library on your phone or computer, but instead of being physically stored on your device, it's in an online repository, so you need an internet connection to access it. It features streaming radio stations, as well as millions of songs by many thousands of artists. Heard this one song one time 10 years ago? Chances are you'll be able to find it on Spotify.

Just how many songs are in Spotify's library?

There are over 30 million songs in the Spotify library. That's one song for every second of every day for almost a year (347 days).

Is it free?

Ostensibly, yes. Streaming on Spotify is absolutely free, but there are certain features that you miss out on. You can skip tracks, but only a certain number. After that, you're stuck listening to the song that's playing for a certain period of time. You'll also hear ads between tracks and have some other on-demand limitations.

A paid subscription is $9.99 per month, which gives you total access to everything Spotify has to offer, including offline listening and Spotify Connect, which lets you use your Spotify app as a remote to play Spotify on supported devices.

Are there family and student rates?

Yup. The family rate is $14.99 per month, and up to 6 users can enjoy full access to Spotify, including their own playlists, which follow you if you choose to upgrade.

The student rate is $4.99 per month; you just need to prove you're a student with your student number. Your account will revert to a regular Premium account after 12 months, which is how Spotify keeps tabs on who's still a student and who's just milking their account. The student rate is available in only 34 countries.

I live in (insert country here). Can I use Spotify?

Spotify is available in over 60 countries. You can check with Spotify to find it if it's available for you.

Which devices support Spotify?

Spotify works on just about any device within reason. Here are all the Apple devices that Spotify supports:

  • iPhone 4s or newer running iOS 8 or higher
  • iPad 2 or newer running iOS 8 or higher
  • iPod Touch 5th generation or newer running iOS 8 or higher
  • Mac running OS X 10.9 or newer

Each device must have a minimum of 100MB of free space.

How does it compare to the other big music streaming services?

As far as all the other music streaming services are concerned, Spotify is a BIG deal. It has over 100 million active monthly users and over 50 million paying subscribers as of March, 2017.

Let's take a closer look:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 SpotifyApple MusicGoogle Play MusicAmazon Prime MusicPandora
Free trial period30 days3 months30 days30 days (with Prime membership)30 days for Premium, 7 days for Plus
Price$9.99/month ($14.99 for family up to 6 people)$9.99/month ($14.99 for family up to 6 people)$9.99 ($14.99 for family up to 6 people)Comes with Prime membership ($99/year), $7.99/month for UnlimitedPandora Premium: $4.99/month, $54.89/year Pandora Plus: $9.99/month, $109.89/year
Library size~ 30 million songs~ 40 million songs~ 40 million songs~ 2 million (may differ depending on location), ~ 40 million (Unlimited)~ 40 million
Number of countries supportedOver 60Over 110Over 60See AmazonAustralia, New Zealand, U.S.A.

Should I subscribe to Spotify?

If you're not married to the whole Apple ecosystem, then absolutely. Its autoplay features and Daily Mixes and Discover Weekly playlists are wonderful and if you love discovering new music or just listening to other albums from artists you love, then I can't say enough great things about it. Plus, it has a fantastic desktop app for Mac and PC that works with your keyboard playback controls.

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Got a question about Spotify? Sound off in the comments.

Mick Symons

Mick is a staff writer who's as frugal as they come, so he always does extensive research (much to the exhaustion of his wife) before making a purchase. If it's not worth the price, Mick ain't buying.