In the ever-changing world of high-tech gadgets and gizmos, a whole load of jargon is thrown our way that many of us don’t necessarily understand.

In our regular series What is… we tackle a tech term or object and explain what it means so you can understand it a bit more.

[Read more: Spotify and Tinder pair up to get music lovers together]

Here we explain Spotify, an online streaming service that is changing the way we consume music.

Spotify devices

What is Spotify?

Spotify is a leading music streaming provider, which allows users to listen to music using an internet connection.

There are more than 30 million tracks on Spotify, accessible at the click of a button on PCs, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, PlayStations and many more devices.

All you need is an internet connection to play the tracks, although you can download tracks to listen to when you’re without a connection, but only with a paid subscription.

[Read more: Spotify now creates playlists for your 'out of office' email]

How much does Spotify cost?

Spotify offers both free and paid subscription types.

The free account allows you to play any artist, album or playlist in shuffle mode (where tracks are randomly selected). But you can’t select tracks individually as you please, and adverts will be played between every few tracks.

The paid account costs £9.99 a month, which gives you unlimited access to Spotify’s entire catalogue. There are no ads, you can download tracks to play offline - so you don’t always need an internet connection or use your monthly data allowance - and take advantage of better sound quality.

Spotify also offers discounts for families who require more than one account, and students.

What is... Spotify?

[Read more: Downloading music VS streaming music]

What can I listen to on Spotify?

Spotify caters to a range of musical tastes and in 2015 gained the Beatles’ back catalogue along with other streaming services. The music of late singer Prince is back on Spotify now, after he pulled his songs from the streaming service two years ago. 

There are a few omissions, however, namely Taylor Swift’s latest albums. She has spoken out against her music being made available in the free subscription. This is because she doesn't believe the royalties offered by Spotify and others are fair.

What other music streaming services are there?

Spotify is not the only music streaming service around. Other big names include Deezer, Tidal, Napster, Amazon Prime Music and Google Play Music.

Read more about the different streaming services: Make your music mobile with downloading and streaming services.

Do I need Spotify?

Spotify is a great way of trying new music, especially if you have a mobile phone or tablet. They offer a 30-day free trial of the premium subscription, so it could be a good way to see whether it’s right for you. You can cancel at any time too.

But remember, this is a streaming service, not download. This means you can’t keep a copy on your computer or other device – the offline mode allows you to keep tracks within the app. So you don’t get to keep tracks even if you decide to leave afterwards.

If you’ve got lots of CDs that you’re happy with already, it may not be worth using a streaming service. But if you’re looking for old classics you don’t already own, Spotify could still be of interest.


Android app: Google Play

iOS app: iTunes