Every time you listen to a song on streaming service Spotify, the writers and publishers receive a small fee. To cover this fee and the costs of running the service, Spotify plays occasional audio advertisements to users who are using the free service. These ads can be annoying, particularly when repetitive or for products that don't interest you, but it is possible to block them.
Buying a Subscription
The official way to block ads is to purchase a paid subscription. Pricing and availability may vary from country to country. In most places you have two paid options. The Unlimited package means there are no ads and you have no monthly restrictions on the amount of music you can listen to. The more expensive Premium package is the same as Unlimited but adds in the ability to listen to songs on mobile devices and through some set-top boxes connected to your television. Both options are ad-free, making for an uninterrupted listening experience.
Although several third-party "blocking" services exist, they simply mute the ads, rather than skipping them. When they work, you will not hear the audio as an ad is played, but there will still be the gap before the music begins playing again. Using these services won't remove any restrictions on the total amount of music you can listen to in a month. The services do not work on mobile devices -- but since you need to be on an ad-free package to listen on a mobile device anyway, there's no need for them on a mobile platform.
PC and Mac
The main option on PC is Blockify (see Resources). As well as automatically muting the ads, Blockify lets you use several shortcut key combinations to control Spotify, such as skipping to a new track or changing the volume. It also gives you the option of playing a random MP3 file from your computer in place of an ad; this means you won't get an interruption to your music, but it may still disrupt the "flow" of an album. Mac users can opt for Spotifree (see Resources) which also mutes ads but doesn't have any other special features.
Ethics and Legalities
Muting services are not inherently illegal, as they are simply an automated version of muting your speakers when ads play. Ethically one can argue that listening to ads is part of the "price" of using Spotify without receiving payment; on the other hand, Spotify earns its money for playing the ads, whether or not you mute them. A counter to that is that if muting services became widely used and advertisers knew people weren't actually listening, they would stop paying as much to advertise, threatening the service's survival. Whether to use muting services is thus something of a personal ethical decision.
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images