Spotify lets you effortlessly listen to your favorite music on your Mac or mobile device, build your own playlists, and discover ready-made ones for various music genres and occasions.
Browse music and build your own playlists: Search by band, album, song, genre, or era, and then assemble your discoveries into playlists, which appear in the left-hand sidebar. If you want to bring over your iTunes playlists, tap File and then select Import Playlists. You can also search for playlists created by other Spotify users and have them appear in your sidebar along with your own by following their lists.
Listen to ready-made playlists: Spotify wants you to do more than just listen to your favorites, so it works hard to expose you to new music. For example, each day, Spotify builds six "Daily Mixes" based on your listening habits. On Mondays Spotify creates a new "Discover Weekly" playlist, exposing you to songs it thinks you'll enjoy. Midweek it assembles "#ThrowbackThursday," collections of songs from recent decades. Spotify also has playlists for a broad range of genres and activities, from country and Christian to Latin and K-pop. In between are lists of songs you'd hear in a coffeehouse or when you want to chill out.
Tune into radio: Along with its playlists, Spotify has artist and genre radio stations, ranging from The Beach Boys to hits and popular misses from the the first decade of the 21st century.
Charts, new releases, and tours: See and listen to daily lists of the top 50 most played songs, find new releases, and discover which of your favorite artists are on tour in your area.
Familiar interface: For those used to iTunes, Spotify takes a similar approach, with music collections, playlists, videos, podcasts, and your library displayed in the lefthand sidebar. Click an item on the left to see its contents displayed to the right.
Connect to friends: You can add friends to your activity feed to see their recent musical activity in the right sidebar. If you've connected your Spotify and Facebook accounts, you can add friends by tapping the Find Friends button at the bottom of your Friend activity feed. You can also search for a friend using their username, if you know it.
Free's annoying ads: The free version of Spotify gives you access to all of Spotify's catalog. You have to listen to strings of intrusive ads, however, which seem at times to run longer than the songs you just listened to. The free version is a fine way to see if you like Spotify, but a paid subscription (for $9.99 a month with a 30-day trial) is a much better listening experience.
Artists get an increasingly small part of the revenue pie: Artists -- especially smaller, newer acts -- express concern that Spotify's subscription revenue model doesn't compensate them fairly for their work. Popular artists such as Taylor Swift have an uneasy relationship with Spotify and over the years have withheld their music from the service.
Can't share songs easily within Spotify: At one time, Spotify had a built-in messaging feature that allowed you to easily send songs and playlists to other Spotify users right from the app. In 2017, Spotify removed its messaging tool and now directs users to share songs via social media. While you can still share, it's certainly more cumbersome.
With its seemingly endless supply of music -- along with curated playlists to help you discover or rediscover artists and songs -- Spotify offers just about everything you'd want in a streaming music service. If you can tolerate annoying ads, the free version is an option, but a subscription offers a much better experience.