Music to Our Ears


Claire Wilson

In spring of 2018, the free version of Spotify began allowing unlimited skips, making it an even more attractive streaming option for consumers.

Claire Wilson, Staff Writer

Imagine: You’re on the bus on a Monday morning, waiting to get to school and start the new week. By some miracle, you have no last-minute homework to do, no tests to hopelessly cram for, and no forgotten projects to worry about printing the minute you run through the library’s double doors. This would be a good time to take a break and listen to some of your favorite music. After all, when was the last time you did that?

Well, stop right there.

Some students at Jefferson have excruciatingly long commutes. As one of them, I know how boring it is travelling the same highway every day for so much time. It’s vital to have some good tunes handy, whether you’re listening to them while studying or simply taking a moment to relax. There is one issue: if you’re going to listen to music for an hour or more, you’re going to need a good free streaming service. If you’re looking for one, Spotify is the best there is.

I first got Spotify a few weeks ago, after hearing my friends comment on its superiority to other streaming services. I knew it existed, but I thought it was one of those subscriptions services that would cost me a few dollars a month – a few dollars that I didn’t have to spend on music. However, after curiously perusing Spotify’s website, I discovered that unless you wanted to pay extra to use special features, such as offline listening, you could listen at absolutely no cost. Being the broke teenager that I am, I opted for the free music and signed up.

The first time I tried listening to music with Spotify, I was looking mainly for country music. Being an iHeartRadio user for two years, the lack of good, consistent country music was painful. iHeartRadio is free at the most basic level, which allows you to pick whatever artist you want and listen to their music. However, only one or two songs by that artist are played before you have to listen to an ad or another artist’s song on the same artist’s “radio station.” Spotify is an attractive alternative in that it lets you play any song you want for however long, whenever you feel like it.

After playing some of my favorite songs on loop, I was curious to see what other features the free version of Spotify offered me. The layout was roughly the same as iHeartRadio’s – you could play songs by only one artist, or you could find a playlist from your favorite genre of music. Despite this, there were also some obvious differences. When listening to a certain artist, you weren’t interrupted by music from other artists. I could skip whatever song I wanted to, and I wasn’t listening to ads as frequently as I was when I used iHeartRadio. I could listen to playlists created both by Spotify itself and other Spotify users, and I could create an unlimited number of my own playlists with songs I chose. 

I’ve been using iHeartRadio for two years now, but after this swap, I can now confidently say that it has its downsides. Unlike Spotify, it limits your skips to six skips per artist. You are also only allowed 15 skips per day, regardless of whether you have skips left on a particular artist’s station. In addition, many of the features Spotify offers with a free account, such as the ability to listen to any song and make your own playlists, can only be used by getting a subscription to iHeartRadio for $5.99 a month. You can only listen to music offline for $12.99 a month with iHeartRadio All Access, whereas you can get access to offline streaming and all of Spotify’s identical features for $9.99 a month.

The amount of ads played was also an important factor to me – you use a streaming service to listen to music, not half a dozen ads. iHeartRadio plays a 30-second ad for every couple songs you listen to. While Spotify does play multiple ads between each few songs, and one ad is often followed by an ad about the same topic, the benefit of unlimited skips and similar features definitely outweigh this minor cost. 

Overall, I’m pleased with my switch from iHeartRadio to Spotify. I strongly recommend getting the free version of Spotify to anyone who doesn’t already have it.