How to get started with Spotify

Spotify just rolled out in the U.S., allowing users in America to get their first taste of the online music service. We cover the basics to help you get started using Spotify.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
3 min read

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

It's been a long time coming, but Spotify has finally launched in the U.S. As the latest entry into the online music service, Spotify is sure to turn the online music industry on its head.

So how do you get started? How does it work? Those questions, plus many more, will be answered while we help you get started using Spotify.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

Currently there are three different account types offered by Spotify:

  • Free: Available by invite only. Limited to using only a desktop app to listen to music. You can still create and share playlists with friends. There will be limited commercials and advertisements with the Free account.
  • Unlimited: An Unlimited account will run you $4.99 per month and provides the same benefits of a Free account, but with no advertisements.
  • Premium: A Premium account provides all the same benefits of both the Free and Unlimited accounts, as well as adding the ability to use Spotify on your mobile device, and cache music to playback offline. A premium account is $9.99 per month. (There are more features available with a Premium account, such as being able to connect your Sonos system to Spotify.)

You can sign up for either the Unlimited or Premium accounts on Spotify starting today. If you want an invite to the free service, request one on the Spotify U.S. landing page, or check your Klout score to see if you are eligible for an invite as a perk.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

To use Spotify, no matter what type of account you sign up for, you will need to download a desktop client. Currently Spotify has a client for both Mac OS X and for Windows.

If you signed up for a Premium account, you can use the Android or iPhone app [iTunes link] along with a desktop client. No, you can't share your account info and listen to music on multiple devices at the same time. Once you start playback on a second device, the first device will stop playing.

Once you have downloaded and installed any of the apps, sign in to get started.

Click on the image to enlarge Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

Spotify will immediately connect to your local music library, importing any playlists that you currently have and display any music you already have on your computer.

You can search for music, create playlists, share playlists, save music for offline playback, connect your account to Facebook and Twitter, plus much more, all within the desktop app. One thing to note: playlists are shared publicly by default, meaning when a friend views your Spotify account they will be able to see all of your playlists, and even subscribe to it if they so choose. If you don't want a playlist to be public, right-click on the playlist and remove the check mark next to Publish.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

To save a playlist for playback offline, you have to toggle a switch located at the top of the playlist. The songs will then be saved locally on your computer or mobile device for playback when you are sans an Internet connection.

One of our favorite features so far with Spotify is the option to create a Collaborative Playlist, which gives any Spotify user with the link to the playlist the ability to add songs. We created one, titled "Favorite Childhood Songs", and it's turning into a trip down memory lane. If you have a Spotify account, and would like to listen or contribute to the playlist, follow this link.

There are many more features hidden throughout Spotify that we weren't able to cover in this post. We just wanted to give you a good idea of how to start with the service.

Make sure to leave comments with links to your favorite playlists; we would love to hear them!