Entertainment

How Much Data Spotify & Your Favorite Music Streaming Apps Kill

Thanks to the glut of streaming services that exist today, it's never been easier to listen to music anywhere, anytime. But that sort of convenience comes at the cost of your precious data. When you're not connected to Wi-Fi, using Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, or any number of other apps that enable you to stream tunes can leave a serious dent in your data plan, and slap you with obnoxious (and pricey) overage charges. 

To give you a better idea of how many megabytes you're blowing through while you rock out en route to work or during a workout, here's how it all breaks down for the most popular streaming services. 

First things first...

The amount of data you use while listening is directly linked to the quality of the stream -- i.e., the higher the quality of the stream, the more data you'll use. Luckily, most major services do allow you to toggle between different stream qualities -- differentiated by the rate of kilobits per second (kbps) -- so you can reduce how much data you're using on-demand. But for sake of uniformity, we'll break things down assuming you're listening to the highest-possible streaming quality offered on the service. 

spotify streaming data
Screenshot via Spotify/Cole Saladino

Apple Music 

Top streaming quality: 256 kbps
One hour of streaming eats through: 115.2 megabytes (MB) of data
Streaming time until 1 gigabyte (GB) of data is used: 8.7 hours

Spotify

Top streaming quality: 320 kbps
One hour of streaming eats through: 144MB
Streaming time until 1GB of data is used: 6.9 hours

Tidal

Top streaming quality: 320 kbps
One hour of streaming eats through: 144MB
Streaming time until 1GB of data is used: 6.9 hours

Tidal HiFi

A Tidal Hifi subscription gives users the ability to stream tracks in lossless quality, which are uncompressed files compared to the Premium subscription's "high quality" tracks.

Top streaming quality: 1411 kbps
One hour of streaming eats through: 635MB
Streaming time until 1GB of data is used: 1.6 hours

Google Play Music

Top streaming quality: 320 kbps
One hour of streaming eats through: 144MB
Streaming time until 1GB of data is used: 6.9 hours

Amazon Music Unlimited

Top streaming quality: 256 kbps
One hour of streaming eats through: 115.2 MB
Streaming time until 1GB of data is used: 8.7 hours

Soundcloud Go/Go+

Top streaming quality: 128 kbps
One hour of streaming eats through: 57.6 MB
Streaming time until 1GB of data is used: 17.4 hours

You don't necessarily need to use a lick of data, though. That's because nearly all premium subscription versions of the above services feature an "offline" listening mode, which allows you to essentially download tracks to your device while connected to Wi-Fi to listen to later without blowing through MBs and GBs. If your goal is to avoid using any data at all, saving playlists and tracks you regularly tune into is a surefire workaround (though it's not free, since premium streaming subscription fees average roughly $10 a month). 

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.