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How Long is Spotify Free? No Expiration for the Ad-Supported Tier

I‘m sure you‘ve wondered – how long can I enjoy Spotify without paying? Well, I‘ve got some good news for you!

Spotify‘s free ad-supported tier does not expire. You can use Spotify‘s free streaming infinitely with no time limit. There‘s no need to renew or re-verify your free account. Just create your Spotify username and password once, and you can continue streaming free.

Now you may be thinking – that sounds too good to be true! How can Spotify offer unlimited free music? Well, let me explain how Spotify makes this work and what limitations the free tier has.

How Spotify‘s Free Service Works

Spotify earns money through audio ads and sponsored content that play between songs for free users. These short ads allow Spotify to offer unlimited free streaming.

According to Spotify‘s 2021 annual report, ad-supported revenue accounted for 10% of their total income. So ads really help sustain the free service.

Spotify also hopes some free users will enjoy the platform so much that they eventually upgrade to the paid Premium tier for $9.99 per month. Premium removes ads and unlocks additional features.

But rest assured, Spotify has no reason to take away or limit the free access. The ads make the free tier profitable on its own.

Free vs Premium – What Are the Limitations?

While the free version offers unlimited streaming duration, there are some limits compared to paid Premium accounts. Let‘s compare the key differences:

Audio AdsYesNo ads
Audio QualityUp to 160 kbpsUp to 320 kbps
Song SelectionShuffle onlyAny song on-demand
Skips Per Hour6Unlimited
Offline DownloadsNoYes
DevicesPhones, PCs, Game ConsolesAll including Tablets and Speakers

So in summary, the free Spotify experience includes:

  • Unlimited streaming duration
  • Audio ads between songs
  • Lower 160 kbps audio quality
  • Shuffle play only, no on-demand song selection
  • 6 skips per hour max
  • No downloading songs for offline play
  • Limited device support – no tablets or smart speakers

Meanwhile, Premium offers an ad-free experience with full features. So deciding between the free and paid tiers depends how much those extra perks matter to you.

Trying Premium via Free Trials

If you‘re on the fence about paying for Premium, Spotify does offer free trials that let you experience the full benefits risk-free.

All new Spotify users can signup for a 1-month free Premium trial. Just provide your payment details without actually being charged.

After your 1-month trial ends, your account reverts to free with ads unless you proactively subscribe to Premium. But at least you get to take Premium for a spin.

Occasionally Spotify runs special deals like 3 free months of Premium for new users. For example, they recently offered some subscribers an extended 3-month trial.

So keep an eye out for special trial promotions. But a standard 1-month preview is always available, and should give you enough time to feel out Premium.

Again though, you don‘t have to upgrade if you‘d rather continue using the free tier indefinitely.

Who is the Free Service Best For?

Even with the limits compared to Premium, Spotify Free adds value for:

  • Casual listeners – If you just want some background music or radio stations while doing other tasks, the free service fits the bill nicely.

  • New music discovery – Browse playlists and use Spotify‘s recommendations to find new favorite artists without paying.

  • Sampling Spotify – Check Spotify out with the free plan before you decide if you want to commit to a paid subscription.

  • Students on a budget – College students streaming music between studying and parties may not want another monthly bill.

  • Supplement to bought music – If you primarily listen to your own song downloads or records, free Spotify fills in the gaps.

Basically, casual streaming that doesn‘t require full functionality makes the free tier a useful Spotify option. But heavy music lovers often appreciate Premium benefits more.

Does Spotify Free Drain Your Phone Plan Data?

One concern with free streaming is burning through your monthly data allowance on a cell phone plan. But Spotify offers data saving options to help avoid overages.

In Settings, enable Data Saver and Download over WiFi Only. Data Saver reduces bitrates for smaller file sizes, while downloads minimize streaming data use altogether.

Here are the data usage estimates for Spotify‘s audio settings based on 1 hour of streaming:

Audio QualityData Usage Per Hour
Low (24 kbps)5 MB
Normal (96 kbps)40 MB
High (160 kbps)75 MB
Very High (320 kbps)150 MB

So based on typical use, free Spotify should consume 75-100 MB per hour streamed at the default High setting. Downloading content over WiFi helps minimize cellular data usage.

But streaming does add up, so track your data regularly. Spotify‘s settings make it easier to avoid surprises on your phone plan.

How Other Free Music Streaming Services Compare

While Spotify is the most popular option, other companies like Pandora, YouTube, and Audiomack also offer ad-supported free music tiers. How do they compare?

Pandora – Pandora‘s free option feels more like customizable radio stations rather than full on-demand streaming. You can thumbs up/down songs to tune your stations but not play any explicit track.

YouTube Music – Google‘s free music streaming through YouTube relies heavily on music videos rather than just audio. But you can find almost any song even without paying.

Audiomack – This hip-hop focused streaming service offers a similar free tier to Spotify with audio ads. Their paid Premium is slightly cheaper at $4.99 per month.

SoundCloud – Originally focused on underground artists, SoundCloud now offers mainstream music via a free ad-supported option. But catalog depth doesn‘t match Spotify.

Overall, Spotify remains the industry leader thanks to its smooth user experience, vast catalog breadth, popularity with young listeners, branding power, andinfluence over hip-hop culture.

But competition keeps Spotify innovating and provides viable free alternatives. Review each service‘s catalog and features to determine the best free option for your musical tastes if Spotify doesn‘t fully resonate.

When Does a Paid Subscription Make Sense?

At the end of the day, what matters most is your listening habits and budget. Here are some signs it may be worth upgrading to Spotify Premium:

  • You stream music for 2+ hours daily and get annoyed by excessive ads
  • Listening without internet like while commuting or traveling is important
  • You have specialized audio equipment that can benefit from higher 320 kbps quality
  • Making playlists and queuing up exact songs you want is more fun than shuffle mode
  • Your mobile data usage creeps higher than expected due to streaming

For many casual listeners, Spotify Free satisfies their needs just fine. But music fanatics tend to appreciate Premium most to unlock full functionality.

Think about your personal preferences and average use to decide if free meets your standards, or paying to remove limitations is warranted.

No choice is necessarily right or wrong here – go with what enhances your listening experience within your budget. And you can always change tiers later as habits evolve.

The Bottom Line on Spotify Free

Let‘s recap the key points:

  • The ad-supported Spotify Free plan does not expire and can be used indefinitely

  • Free provides unlimited streaming duration but with limitations like audio ads and reduced quality

  • Premium removes restrictions for $9.99/month but 1-month free trials are available

  • Free works well for casual streaming, discovery, and supplementing purchased music

  • Consider paid Premium if you stream heavily and value extras like downloads and audio quality

  • Compare to free service from competitors like Pandora and YouTube based on catalogs

  • Determine if free meets your needs or if you should unlock Premium‘s full potential

So while not completely unlimited, Spotify Free gives you free rein to stream music forever. Enjoy discovering new artists, making playlists, and queuing up background tunes without ever paying. Then go Premium later if you need to scratch that music itch even deeper.

Happy listening! I hope this breakdown gives you confidence in getting the most out of Spotify‘s free streaming. Let the music play on!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.