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The Economics of Spotify Premium

August 18, 2018

Author: Bianca Yang
Email: ipacifics@gmail.com

I recently signed up for the $.99 3-month Spotify Premium trial. I figured, 3 months and only $1? How could it not be worth it? The service comes with no ads, the ability to download playlists, the ability to play any song I want on mobile and higher quality tracks. Since my trial period expires in 1 month, I thought now would be a good time to evaluate whether sticking around for the $4.99/month student discount would be worth it.

The alternative to using Spotify in this way is to download the songs onto my phone through iTunes or Soundcloud. I say my phone only because I rarely use Spotify on my desktop, opting to use YouTube instead. The ads are exceedingly annoying. In fact, ever since I had bought Spotify Premium, I had forgotten how much I hated the ads, especially when they became more frequent. I was always getting trash like Home Depot ads for Behr paint or men’s hair loss and sexual wellness ads or ads about hard lemonade. I’m not male and I don’t like drinking and I’m not trying to rennovate my home, so absolutely zero of these ads are relevant to me. Oh, but the Spotify ads were absolutely the trashiest of the trash. They hired the worst voice actors, the least motivated script writers, the most dull and conformist visual designers and mashed them together to produce ear-vomit inducing noises. I am beyond happy I don’t have to listen to ads anymore.

I have only 42 songs in my playlist. At 3MB a song, that is 126MB, a trivial number in today’s world of cheap storage. Let’s say I download 5 other playlists, each with 30 songs. That is an additional 450 MB. I haven’t even broken a GB yet and I probably have all the songs I want.

So there’s no concern over storing my songs. And, if I keep my own songs on iTunes, I don’t have to worry about advertisements. What about the value of using Spotify to discover new music and to create new daily playlists for me? I’ve never been particularly satisfied with the Spotify daily playlists. Song orders tend to stay the same from day to day and song selection doesn’t change that much on a daily basis. I don’t frequently discover new music I actually like on the Release Radar or Discover Weekly playlists, so those don’t add much value to me. So, really, I’m not paying for much value with Spotify Premium.

Perhaps the concern about downloading songs would be an issue for people who are on rate-limited cellular data plans. Since that is not the case for me, this point is moot. But, if I’m storing things locally, why would I ever want to play Spotify on cellular data?

At $4.99/month, Spotify Premium would be taking only $60 out of my pocket every year. It’s not a significant amount, but I don’t think the service is worth any of money, really. I can live with the ads and the lack of downloads. I can deal with the mild inconvenience of finding m4a’s or mp3’s online and then syncing them into my phone. I can live with an extra $5 in my pocket each month. Your mileage will vary.

Send me comments for discussion to my email.