Less Than One Third Of Spotify's Library Is Available In High Quality For Paid Users

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Most of Spotify’s 15 million tracks are not available at the highest bitrate quality of 320 Kbps, according to a sampling of tracks by Ulysses Shi, a musician and Spotify enthusiast.Shi posted the results of his study on his blog.

Out of a random sampling of 115 songs, Shi found that only 35 were available at 320 Kbps. According to Shi’s findings, that means only 30.4% of Spotify’s 15 million songs are available at the highest possible quality to Premium users.

Spotify’s Premium plan allows access to the 320 Kbps tracks, along with access to the smartphone app and unlimited ad-free streaming. The Premium plan costs $9.99 per month.

(If you want to take a look at the tracks Shi tested, you can subscribe to the playlist on Spotify right here.)

If you’re not familiar with how bitrates work, here’s a quick explainer: The standard bitrate for MP3s is between 100 and 160 Kbps. That’s the quality all Spotify users get from the desktop app and the quality you’re likely used to. The highest MP3 quality available is 320 Kbps.

Spotify’s website clearly states that not all tracks are available at 320 Kbps, but if Ulysses’ results are even close to accurate, then it looks like one of the Premium plan’s best benefits is available less than a third of the time.

We asked Spotify if it was true that most of its 15 million songs were not available at 320 Kbps. A Spotify rep said she could not comment on that.

Instead, the rep reiterated what Spotify says on its website. Here’s the statement Spotify sent us:

All music streamed through Spotify is of high quality (96/160 kbps for mobile and 160 kbps for desktop) and we have a broad catalogue of over 15 million tracks. All tracks are not currently available in high bitrate (320 kbps) for our Premium users, which we make clear on our website, but we are working very hard to transcode the remaining tracks, as quickly as possible. As our catalogue is increasing at an average of 10,000 new tracks each day, you can imagine this is an ongoing task, but a high priority for us at Spotify.

The takeaway:
Keep in mind that this is just one sampling done by just one Spotify user. His random sampling method seems solid (he used a random song generator), but that doesn’t make this a truly scientific study.

Also, as stated above, Spotify makes it very clear that not all tracks are available at 320 Kbps. However, if Shi’s findings are accurate, it would be best for Spotify to clarify that most of its library is not available at 320 Kbps.

Customers should know exactly what they’re paying for.

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